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What Does a Jew Want?On Binationalism and Other Specters$
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Udi Aloni

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157599

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157599.001.0001

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Local Angel

Local Angel

To Walter Benjamin

Chapter:
(p.148) Local Angel
Source:
What Does a Jew Want?
Author(s):

Aloni Udi

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231157599.003.0025

In this tribute to Walter Benjamin, the author talks about the local angel of history. He first mentions the Palestinian Christian cemetery in Jaffa and the angel placed in it by a stonemason. The angel, he says, looks as though he is about to move away from something he has been guarding. He then describes how one pictures the local angel of history: He faces the East, and his back is turned to the sea. Where we perceive a chain of events, which we call the history of Israel–Palestine, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurling it in front of his feet. He cannot resist the calling of the West, whose voice calls him backward into what we call progress. Meanwhile, the pile of debris before him grows skyward.

Keywords:   angel of history, Walter Benjamin, Israel, Palestine, West, progress

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