SARATOGA SPRINGS– Saratoga Jewish Community Arts (SJCA), will present a Zoom panel discussion of the film by Margarethe von Trotta, “Hannah Arendt,” on Thursday, May 18, at 7 p.m. 

A poster for the film, “Hannah Arendt.” A Zoom panel discussion is set for May 18 by the SJCA.

Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the ordinariness of the Holocaust’s perpetrators. She was a thinker and writer, often referred to as a philosopher, considered herself a political theorist. She was struck by the danger of thoughtlessness and spent her life thinking about thinking.

The German-born Jewish American intellectual and Jewish activist covered the infamous Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem for The New Yorker magazine in 1961. 

The film is not a story of Arendt’s life, but the controversy of her thoughts and ideas written about the kidnapping and trial of Eichmann, who faced execution for crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in a criminal organization.

According to Arendt, Eichmann was neither a fanatic nor a sociopath. He was an ordinary man who accepted the rule of his state, his party, and his fuhrer. Arendt suggested that he became an embodiment of evil as a result of an inability, or an unwillingness to think. 

“Arendt’s articles and her later book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, across the years became something to defend or condemn,” said Phyllis Wang, coordinator of SJCA. “Her work unleashed a civil war amongst intellectuals. She was cursed as a self-hating Jew, a Nazi lover, and it damaged her friendships.”

Registration is required at [email protected]. “Hannah Arendt” may be viewed online.