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Philosophy award for pro-Palestinian academic Judith Butler angers Jewish groups
German and Israeli groups criticise award of philosophy prize to pro-Palestinian Jewish-American Judith Butler
Mohammed Saad, Wednesday 29 Aug 2012
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Philosopher Judith Butler
Philosopher Judith Butler

The award of a philosophy prize to the pro-Palestinian Jewish-American philosopher Judith Butler has angered a number of groups in Germany and Israel.

The city of Frankfurt awarded Butler the Theodor Adorno Prize for her work in philosophy which made her "one of the key thinkers of our time."

“Someone who boycotts Israel can’t be an Adorno prize winner,” a German scholars' groups was quoted as saying by the Jewish Chronicle Newspaper.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany also criticised the decision, referring to Butler as "morally corrupt” and "confessing to be an Israel-hater," according to Spiegel Online.

The Jerusalem Post attacked Butler and condemned Frankfurt for awarding such a prestigious prize to a “US advocate of boycotting Israel." The newspaper called on the city to rescind the prize, which is due to be presented on 11 September, the anniversary of the birth of Theodore Adorno, an academic who fled Frankfurt due to the Nazis.

Jewish academics accuse Butler of supporting Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon and describing them as "progressive," while accusing Israel of carrying out "state violence."

Butler angered pro-Zionist  academics when she led a campaign in the United State to boycott Israeli cultural and academic institutions in protest at its policies towards the Palestinians. She also supported a divestment and sanctions campaign against the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Butler has written a prolonged response to the attacks, refuting the claims that she supports Hamas and Hezbollah and is anti–Semitic.

"The accusations against me are that I support Hamas and Hezbollah (which is not true), that I support divestment and sanctions (partially true), and that I am anti-Semitic (patently false).

"I do not endorse practices of violent resistance and neither do I endorse state violence, cannot, and never have," she added.

Butler expressed her dismay at the charges, stressing that she defends the Jewish tradition.

"Perhaps I should not be as surprised as I am that those who oppose my receiving the Adorno Prize would seek recourse to such scurrilous and unfounded charges to make their point. I am a scholar who gained an introduction to philosophy through Jewish thought, and I understand myself as defending and continuing a Jewish ethical tradition that includes figures such as Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt,” she said.

Yet the famous philosopher repeated her criticisms of Israel and its policies:

"In the United States, I have been alarmed by the number of Jews who, dismayed by Israeli politics, including the occupation, the practices of indefinite detention, the bombing of civilian populations in Gaza, seek to disavow their Jewishness. They make the mistake of thinking that the State of Israel represents Jewishness for our times, and that if one identifies as a Jew, one supports Israel and its actions. And yet, there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values."

You can read Butler's full response here

The story of awarding Butler the prestigious 50,000 euro prize generated little disquiet in the global media.

Butler, a post-structuralist philosopher, works mainly in the fields of feminist theory, queer theory and political philosophy.

The Adorno prize was launched on 1977, to celebrate the memory of Theodore Adorno, who is a prominent figure of the Frankfurt School. Adorno fled from Germany when it was under Nazi rule to the United States. He returned to Germany after the fall of the Nazis.

The award acknowledges outstanding performances in the fields of philosophy, music, theatre and film.

Butler is the Berkley Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature.





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Loni Eliot
30-08-2012 07:04pm
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Not Anti-semitic............
There are many of us, Jews and non-Jews, who are opposed to the actions of the present Israeli government and we are able to differentiate between those actions of this government toward the Israeli Palestinians and the fact that this is a Jewish state and not all Jews in Israel or outside of Israel, agree with what this government is and has been doing. This government and it's supporters are on the defensive and anyone, anywhere, who raises a question regarding the treatment of Israeli Palestinians is being vociferously attacked as being anti-Jew. And that is something patently wrong. I and others like me, feel strongly that the actions of Netanyahu's government is wrong and must be made to realize that the path they are taking is wrong. This does not mean that I nor others like me who disagree, are anti-semitic. Just realistic. If it were any other country, there would have been actions taken against that government on the simple fact that those actions are wrong and destructive an
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6



Alaa Murad
30-08-2012 11:40am
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On the 'Jewishness' of Israel
Congratulations to Judith Butler. I truly hope more people become more vocal challenging the idea that Israel represents Jewishness. Zionism simply tried to unify the Jewish experience into one discarding and erasing all the rest. This is often done in extremely barbaric and totalitarian ways even when they do not appear to be. Consequently, any challenge to Israeli policies or inclinations is automatically deemed 'anti-semitic,' which is not only false but extremely demeaning and insulting. That said; the comment opposed to Judith's achievement saying “Someone who boycotts Israel can’t be an Adorno prize winner,” is at best misguided. There is no way such an ardent critic of industrial society, fascism and the 'culture industry' would appreciate such a banal militarized society as Israel's.
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5



Aladdin
30-08-2012 07:00am
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Pyscho-Morans
SHe give back confidence in Euro-Zionisits who committed crimes from ethnic-cleansing to murder and land grap of Pals. Euro-zionists need clinincal psychatrich help for spreading anit-sametic virus in ME for their hateful, ungrateful attitude toward Arabs. Allah AKber.
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4



Samantha Criscione
30-08-2012 03:20am
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By the way, the Germans opposing Butler getting that award are Leftists, not Rightists
To Dalou, regarding Einstein, since you accept his word as your guide on Israel, you should know that after he signed Sidney Hook's letter to the Times, and until the hour of his death, he was a passionate supporter of Israel, i.e. Zionism. This is documented in hundreds of articles in the New York Times. In his dislike for the Irgun, Einstein had something in common with many Egyptians today, who love Egypt but loathe the Brotherhood. Dalou, if you honestly endorse Einstein, then you must endorse his dream: the Jewish state of Israel (which was his lifelong passion) in warm relations with Arab neighbors. Regarding Prof. Butler, my objection to her getting an intellectual prize is her low intellectual level -- unfortunately, no obstacle in Western academia today -- as demonstrated by her claim that Hamas and Hezbollah are part of the international left. (You can watch her say that on video by searching in google for "Judith Butler" and Hamas.) So, Hamas, child of the Brotherhood
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Dalou
03-09-2012 02:21am
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Einstein is not my guide on Israel
And what you're saying about Einstein is compleately FALSE! In 1947 news came out of Deir Yassin massacres, Einstein stood before the media and stated (and i read it), "I am against the creation of the State of Israel because a terrorist like Menahem Begin could one day become the Prime Minister", and he was right! In 1950 Begin founded the Likoud boasting about Deir Yassin, so i dont think Einstein was "passionate suporter of Israel" Zionism! He was a passionate supporter of his people, and wished them to cohabitate with the Palestinians in friendship and respect.
Dalou
02-09-2012 10:31pm
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Hamas childe of Brotherhoud? Google?
Hamas was created by Mossad in 1983, as a rival to secular Arafat after his exile to Tunisia. Your propaganda is very poor, in such a small blogg were people dont have acsess to Archives and History. Einstein hated Sionism till his last breath said his best friend upon Einstein's last moments. P.S. Hezbollah was born in 1982, after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Sabra Shatila massacres. Ariel Sharron was endited in own countrie, at the time American Secretarie of State James Backer, told Sharron that he was not welcome in the US, times have changed since. US is not a Sovereign country anymore!
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Dr. Malek Muhammad Towghi/Tauqee (Baluch)
30-08-2012 12:39am
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Dreaming for the day ...
Dreaming for the day when a Muslim intellectual talks for the Jewish (e.g., Banu Qurayzah) victims of Muslim injustices --- and gets a similar award from a similar institution in a Muslim-majority / Muslim-ruled country ! (MMT)
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Amina Soliman
30-08-2012 10:45am
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What victim of Muslim injustices
What victim of Muslim injustices that a Muslim intellectual could talk about Muslim are the victim thier land was stolen from them and thier homes are demolished every day.
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delia ruhe
29-08-2012 09:10pm
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You go, girl!
Congratulations, Judith, on a well-deserved award. Don't be too disturbed by the hysteria among right-wing Jews. As you no doubt know the debate over the occupation has become a Jew-on-Jew massacre. Genuine antisemites must replete with Schadenfreude.
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Dalou
29-08-2012 05:06pm
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Jewish Nobel Prizes
The first Jewish Nobel Prize to warn about Fascist Zionism was Albert Einstein, in "Letter to NYT Editor December 4, 1948" against the Stern Gang and Irgoun terrorists groups, asking for American Jews funding. It turned out to be a prophecie. Irgoun chief Menahem Begin founded the Likoud in 1950.
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