History - October 7

In the aftermath of the October 7 attack, the expression “hayot adam,” used by several Israeli leaders to describe Hamas terrorists, shocked the public and stirred controversy. Variously translated as “animals,” “wild beasts,” and “human animals,” the phrase is striking for its symbolic violence and, for those sensitive to the resonances of the Hebrew language, for the echoes it finds in biblical and rabbinic texts. David Lemler undertakes an archaeology of this problematic term, drawing on the memory of pogroms and Nazism as well as the deeper roots of the representation of the non-Jew in traditional sources.

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