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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



An Island Named Zion

Yaniv Feller • Wesleyan University

March 7th @ 6 P.M. via Zoom

“The Jewish settlement in Palestine,” wrote Hannah Arendt in 1952, “will always remain a comparatively small island in an Arab sea.” This talk traces Arendt’s islandic metaphor by exposing the relation between Jews and islands in the German imperial imagination. Ideas about sending the Jews to island colonies on behalf of Prussia and Germany were circulating since at least the late eighteenth century, as part of debates about the Jewish Question. At the same time, Jews were not viewed as Germans, but as the internally colonized. Two case studies exemplify this ambiguity: the thought of Rabbi Leo Baeck, the leader of German Jewry during the Nazi period, and the utopian novel Old-New Land by Theodor Herzl, father of political Zionism. Their work shows how island imagery shaped early twentieth century views of Palestine as space that is empty and a view of Zionism as having a civilizing mission.

Islands as Metaphor and Method
View Spring 2022 Lecture List

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