web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Judith Butler Comes To Brooklyn College

Judith Butler

Judith Butler

Since the enemies of Israel neither slumber nor sleep, it should come as no surprise that at the center of the current storm over the acquiescence of Brooklyn College in an academically sponsored campus event designed to expel Israel from the family of nations stands Professor Judith Butler of the University of California.

Butler is to be one of the featured speakers at the February 7 rally, sponsored by Brooklyn’s Department of Political Science and other “activist” groups, on behalf of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) campaign, an offshoot of the longstanding Arab boycott of Israel (which was declared illegal by Congress in 1977).

Although she had gained considerable attention in academia for promoting the notion that masculinity and femininity are merely social “constructions” and for winning, in 1998, first prize in the annual Bad Writing contest of the journal Philosophy and Literature, it was not until a decade ago that Butler achieved national prominence as an anti-Israel agitator.

In September 2002 Harvard president Lawrence Summers had charged that “at Harvard and …universities across the country” faculty-initiated petitions were calling “for the university to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university’s endowment to be invested.”

In August 2003 Butler, already a signatory of nearly every major anti-Israel petition, including the “divestment” one, circulating on American campuses, published a rebuttal of Summers called “No, It’s Not Antisemitic” in the London Review of Books. Summers had chivalrously gone out of his way to say that “Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent”; to annihilate this distinction was a primary aim of Butler’s counter-attack. Using the tu quoque (you too) strategy, she called Summers’s accusations “a blow against academic freedom, in effect, if not intent.” His words have had “a chilling effect on political discourse.”

Apparently the chill had not taken hold at Harvard itself, which that November would confer honors on Oxford’s Tom Paulin, famous for urging that Jews in Judea/Samaria “should be shot dead.”

Butler perfunctorily assented to Summers’s recommendation that anti-Semitism be condemned, but she seemed incapable either of recognizing it in such (to her) mild “public criticisms” as economic warfare against Israel or calls for its dismantling or assaults on Zionism itself or interfering with suicide bombers. Indeed, she saw no difference between Jews intentionally murdered by terrorists and Arabs accidentally killed by Israeli efforts to repel the murderers.

Butler asserted that nobody examining the divestment petitions could take them as condoning anti-Semitism. “We are asked to conjure a listener who attributes an intention to the speaker: so-and-so has made a public statement against the Israeli occupation, and this must mean that so-and-so hates Jews.”

But Summers was perfectly correct in stating that one need not “hate Jews” in order to perform actions or utter words that are “anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”

Take a well-known case: when Dickens wrote Oliver Twist he harbored no hatred of Jews or intention to harm them. He said of Fagin: “He’s such an out and outer I don’t know what to make of him.” The reason for Dickens’s puzzlement was that he did not indeed “make” Fagin, and therefore didn’t know what to make of him. Fagin was ready-made for Dickens by the folklore of Christendom, which had fixed the Jew in the role of Christ-killer, agent of Satan, inheritor of Judas, thief, fence, corrupter of the young; to which list of attributes Butler and her comrades now add “Zionist imperialist and occupier.”

Has Oliver Twist often been “anti-Semitic in effect”? Of course – or does Butler think it is for their concern over the homeless in Victorian England that Arab publishers keep cheap translations of the novel in print?

Butler’s ultimate use of the tu quoque strategy was to make Summers himself guilty of what he attacked. Why? Because he assumed that Jews can only be victims. Apparently the hundreds murdered and the thousands mutilated by Arab terrorists between September 27, 2000 and the time Butler published her essay were not sufficient to meet her stringent requirements for (Jewish) victim status.

But if Israelis were not the victims of Palestinian aggression, why did Jewish schools in Jerusalem require protection by armed guards while Arab schools in Nazareth did not? Why was getting on a bus in Jerusalem or going to a cafe in Haifa a form of Russian roulette, far more dangerous than prancing about as a “human shield” for Yasir Arafat?

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “Judith Butler Comes To Brooklyn College”

  1. One of Butler's more astonishing pronouncements:

    :
    The move from a structuralist account in which capital is.
    understood to structure social relations in relatively.
    homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations.
    are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation.
    brought the question of temporality into the thinking of.
    structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian.
    theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical.
    objects to one in which the insights into the contingent.
    possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of.
    hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies.
    of the rearticulation of power.

  2. Edward Alexander says:

    Prof. Rosenthal neglects to mention that it was for this piece of stupefying opacity that Judith Butler won her first prize in the Bad Writing Contest conducted annually by the Literature/Philosophy journal.

  3. I must vomit my guts out even just by looking at that photo attached to the article. Otherwise, Well done Edwin Rosenberg!

  4. I must vomit my guts out even just by looking at that photo attached to the article. Otherwise, Well done Edwin Rosenberg!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS in Quneitra
Updates from Kuneitra, Syria [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

More Articles from Edward Alexander
Judith Butler

Since the enemies of Israel neither slumber nor sleep, it should come as no surprise that at the center of the current storm over the acquiescence of Brooklyn College in an academically sponsored campus event designed to expel Israel from the family of nations stands Professor Judith Butler of the University of California.

An old saying has it that “liberalism is always being surprised.” That is the only possible explanation of Jewish expressions of “surprise” and “shock” that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in late October urged the South African Opera troupe to cancel its engagement to perform “Porgy and Bess” in Israel.

Given the current academic atmosphere, it is a safe bet that what might delicately be called Churchill’s shortage of sympathy in the Jewish direction made him a strong candidate to head Colorado’s Ethnic Studies program.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/judith-butler-comes-to-brooklyn-college/2013/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: