This essay argues that the more the State or the political is treated as an autonomous from society, the more the specific conception and history of the Jews dissolves into a universalised category. From this perspective, the emancipatory Rights granted to Jews appear as exercises of an arbitrary Sovereign power rather than the product and compromises of social interests in which Jews are present. This thesis is articulated through a discussion and comparison of two anti-emancipationist radical thinkers; Bruno Bauer and Giorgio Agamben. Where Bauer demands the Jews’ emancipation from Judaism as a precondition for the granting of Rights, Agamben dissolves the specific Jewish dimension of the holocaust into a universalist notion of domination and the figure of the Musselman. I conclude by noting that, in the wake of this dissolution, any reference to Jewish specificity, even in death, can be interpreted as the Jews demanding “special privileges” over and above others, thereby running the risk of the Holocaust taking its place in the chain of the antisemitic imagination.
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=IJC The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Law in Context, 3 (4), pp 373-387 2007, © 2007 Cambridge University Press.