Hannah Arendt wrote that “emancipation” of the European Jews should have been their admission into humanity as Jews. But attempts at assimilation actually made their future more precarious. They seemed to become part of European society but were neither admitted into society nor, indeed, into humanity. This chapter argues that assimilation does not end when Jews become sovereign citizens of their own state. Expanding on Patrick Wolfe’s theorizing on assimilation, it argues that self-determination in the Jewish state is also a form of self-elimination. Zionism is the ultimate Kafkaesque attempt at assimilation, an attempt to gain acceptance by mimicking those by whom one has been oppressed. The modern state was supposed to create the conditions in which Jews could flourish “as Jews.” Yet, because of the conflation of “religion” and “nation” in the figure of the Jew, the modern state actually limits the possible ways of being Jewish.
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