Sacks’s essay offers a reading of Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism to argue that it offers a critique of sovereign violence. Taking as a point of departure the hermeneutic and interpretive violence occasioned in Israel’s “Operation Pillars of Defense” in November 2012, and the statement offered by Israeli Minister Eli Yishai that “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years,” this article considers that violence in relation to the older European, philological legacies it receives and imparts. By considering and drawing upon the readings of Freud’s Moses and Monotheism pursued by Edward W. Said, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Michel de Certeau, Judith Butler, and others, Sacks argues that Freud’s text both repeats and teaches us to place in question the categories that operate and render legible acts of sovereign violence in the institution of the colonial state.

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