I followed the Judith Butler debate in the German newspapers these past 6 weeks or so, but didn’t post on it. The following article from Muzzlewatch however is worth calling attention to as it is a good summary of the craven & unwarranted opposition to Butler being given the Adorno prize:
The announcement of a prestigious international academic prize doesn’t typically generate endless sturm und drang on the pages of major newspapers around the world, threatening to turn into an international incident. But when that prize is given by a German city, and the recipient is Judith Butler, one of the great thinkers of our time– who also happens to be a vocal critic of Israeli policies—apparently it signifies the end is near.
Within minutes of announcing that Judith Butler, who can best be described as the Mick Jagger of left academia, had won the prestigious Theodor Adorno prize for her extraordinary and wide-ranging body of critical theory work, the hapless judges of the Frankfurt prize were besieged with complaints by those who said it should be revoked immediately.
Writing in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Richard Landes and Ben Weinthal claimed the decision to give Butler the award would threaten Germany and Israel’s “special relationship”, and compared it to
Germany’s circumcision bans, Berlin sending submarines to a newly belligerent Egypt, and ugly revelations of German behavior in the Munich Olympics terror attack.
Elsewhere in Opposite-landia, the weird through-the-looking-glass world created by those who would defend Israel at all costs, right-wing critics claimed Judith Butler is anti-Semitic. Judith Butler loves Hamas. Judith Butler is too political. Judith Butler isn’t political enough . Or my favorite, Judith Butler is ignorant.
But the truth is Butler became a lightning rod because one of the world’s best-known philosophers, who happens to be Jewish, is also deeply engaged in questions of Judaism, Jewish ethics and Zionism. Her lifelong investigation of these questions, in the spirit of Arendt and Buber who inspired because they walked their own paths—led her to keep one foot solidly in Jewish culture while placing the other in solidarity with precisely the people much of the Jewish world want us to forget, Palestinians.
Equally unforgivably, her intellectual and personal journey led her to support a movement that mainstream Jewish institutions are desperately trying to claim as anti-Semitic: the Palestinian-led, nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. (My use of the the worddesperately is deliberate. As more and more individual Jews and Jewish organizations support some form of boycott or divestment to pressure Israel into being accountable to international law and basic Jewish ethics, the argument that doing so is essentially anti-Jewish reveals itself for the emptiness that it is.)