This essay evaluates the connection Aryeh Cohen innovatively draws between the relatively unheralded early twentieth-century rabbi and critic of Zionism from the Russian province of Grodno, Aharon Shmuel Tamares, and the midcentury French Judaic philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas. While endorsing Cohen's view that both figures progressively and somewhat provocatively interpret the covenantal exhortation in Exodus 19:5 to seek peace also entails an injunction to resist rather than match the tactics of domineering powers, it moves beyond Cohen to argue that Tamares and Levinas, both, could arguably be construed as critics of contemporary day Israel's too easy acquiescence to military options in defending its interests. In due course, the essay draws out the implications of Cohen's comparison of Tamares's “ethics of galut” (exile) to Levinas's alter-centric philosophy. Ultimately the essay suggests that Tamares and Levinas can be seen as critics of “Jewish nationalism,” and in specific, critics of the notion that tribal identity, often construed as the core such a nationalism, can ever serve as a justification for employing violent means to defend a Jewish homeland.

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