The Israeli Radical Left

An Ethics of Complicity

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Fiona Wright
The Ethnography of Political Violence
  • University Park, PA: 
    University of Pennsylvania Press
    , July
     208 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


In The Israeli Radical Left, Fiona Wright traces the dramatic as well as the mundane paths taken by radical Jewish Israeli leftwing activists, whose critique of the Israeli state has left them uneasily navigating an increasingly polarized public atmosphere. This activism is manifested in direct action solidarity movements, the critical stances of some Israeli human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and less well-known initiatives that promote social justice within Jewish Israel as a means of undermining the overwhelming support for militarism and nationalism that characterizes Israeli domestic politics. In chronicling these attempts at solidarity with those most injured by Israeli policy, Wright reveals dissent to be a fraught negotiation of activists' own citizenship in which they feel simultaneously repulsed and responsible.

Based on eighteen months of fieldwork, The Israeli Radical Leftprovides a nuanced account of various kinds of Jewish Israeli antioccupation and antiracist activism as both spaces of subversion and articulations of complicity. Wright does not level complicity as an accusation, but rather recasts the concept as an analysis of the impurity of ethical and political relations and the often uncomfortable ways in which this makes itself felt during moments of attempted solidarity. She imparts how activists persistently underline their own feelings of complicity and the impossibility of reconciling their principles with the realities of their everyday lives, despite the fact that the activism in which they engage specifically aims to challenge Jewish Israeli citizens' participation in state violence. The first full ethnographic account of the Israeli radical left, Wright's book explores the ethics and politics of Jewish Israeli activists who challenge the violence perpetrated by their state and in their name.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Fiona Wright is a Research Associate in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.


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