Why Does Hannah Arendt's 'Banality of Evil' Still Anger Israelis?

Nearly 60 years after she attended and wrote about the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt remains a controversial figure among intellectuals in Israel

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The Eichmann trial, 1961.
The Eichmann trial, 1961.Credit: Gjon Mili / The LIFE Picture Col

“A time will come, that you will not live to see, when Jews will erect a monument to you in Israel… and they will proudly claim you as their own,” the philosopher Karl Jaspers wrote to his close friend Hannah Arendt in 1963. That monument remains unbuilt in Israel 2019. Nearly 60 years have gone by since the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and Arendt’s name continues to generate fierce criticism among many Israeli intellectuals. Although she is considered by many one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, and even though she was a Holocaust survivor and a Zionist (at least for a certain period) – she was boycotted in Israel for many years and most of her writings have only recently been translated into Hebrew.