Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.” ― Bob Marley
Judith Butler, a notorious anti-Semite whose morally bankrupt notions of justice entail praising Hamas and Hezbollah as “progressive” organizations, was invited to speak at the Jewish Museum at New York. That an anti-Zionist — one who by definition espouses the abrogation of the Jewish right to self-determination in their historical homeland — would be invited to speak at a Jewish museum, (an entity one would think would champion the cause of their own civil rights,) is in and of itself a tragedy. The museum claimed that her politics were “not a factor” but that “debates about her politics have become a distraction.” By that standard, a Jewish culinary center should be perfectly comfortable with inviting a pseudo-intellectual who viewed Hitler as “progressive” but who was simultaneously skilled in whipping up various flavors of ice cream. His politics would not matter.
But what’s perhaps more disturbing is the paradigm through which Butler views the world. With regards to Zionism and the Arab-Israeli conflict, her contentions are unnecessarily pedantic, fatuous, rife with contradictions and fabrications, and indicative of her willingness to forgo the truth in order to prove to herself what she already believes.
In an interview with Open Democracy’s Ray Flair, Butler states that Hamas’s call to push Israelis into the sea is, according to most Palestinian politicians, “of course… not what we want.” It is not exactly clear which politicians she is referring to; the ones who invest billions of dollars in children television programs which incite Judeophobia or the politicians who launch the rockets in Gaza? Those who ruled in a court of “law” that selling land to a Jew was punishable by death or the tyrannical octogenerian who claimed the Holocaust never happened and cheered with demoniacal glee as murderers who’d stabbed and axed Jews to death were released from prisons? Indeed, if she could point out what exactly it is these elitists want when they abuse their own people by preaching to them that the greatest thing they could do in life is kill themselves, that would be much appreciated.
It should be noted that despite this nonexistent good will toward Israel on the part of Palestinian politicians, Butler does concede that Hamas’s call to exterminate Jews is nevertheless “noxious.” Thats really wonderful; I’m glad she came to that enlightened conclusion.
When asked about her solutions to the conflict, Butler talks about the notion of “cohabitation” in a binationalist state, (i.e. the end of the Jewish state) which she says “can be unhappy, wretched, [and] full of antagonism… but without recourse to expulsion or genocide. And that is our obligation, to stay in the sphere with whatever murderous rage we have, without acting on it.” “Stay in the sphere” with people who chant “death to Israel.” “Stay in the sphere” with people who chant “death to the Jews.” “Stay in the sphere” with people who deny the Shoah and call for the next. “Stay in the sphere” with individuals who name streets after suicide bombers.” In other words, Butler is unwilling to grapple with the fact that a) many Arabs who have lived with Jews have had murderous rage, and have acted upon it, and that therefore b) the ramifications of her proposal would more than likely lead to the very thing she hates: expulsion and genocide.
What we have here then, is a severe case of moral ambivalence and, whether she knows it or not, the promotion of ethnic cleansing, both on a philosophical and a literal level. Philosophically, because, for Butler, identity is something that should be eschewed. Indeed, she says that binationalism “makes a mockery of identity” and that it represents “a decentering of the nationalist ethos.” Distinctions, demarcations, identities, these are all forms of discrimination to Butler, and therefore contrary to cohabitation. It logically follows that a Jewish state–defined in contrast to what Butler defines as “Jewishness” — is proof positive of discrimination, and thus must be dissolved.
Butler states that authentic Jewishness is “itself an anti-identitarian project…” She has the audacity to believe she can speak for all of world Jewry and define something which she claims has no definition. She suggests that an ethnic group is merely a blob devoid of all identity.
The abject irony is that to assert that a people’s identity is meaningless and vile is itself expressing discrimination against that people. It is in essence saying that they as a distinctive people do not matter. That she would try to even speak at a museum labeling itself “Jewish” is to contradict the central premise of her treatise.
Therefore, in the literal sense, Butler indeed advocates for ethnic cleansing. This is the extrapolation of her doctrine to its logical conclusion. Cohabitation is her highest moral order. Even if the people one is cohabiting with want to kill you. Cohabitation is the ends. Ignoring the facts on the ground, denying a people their right to an identity, and therefore discriminating against them, and lying about Palestinian society, these are all the means. This will inevitably lead to genocide and murder, and therefore, ethnic cleansing, the exact opposite of what Butler claims to want.
But we who live in the real world filled with tyrants and dictators who desire to murder and annihilate populations from off the face of the earth are not duped by the pseudo-intellectual ramblings of a confused professor who contradicts herself at every turn. Indeed, we cannot afford to be swayed by her musings. We will not adopt her inane circular arguments at the expense of our children’s lives. We recognize anti-Semitism when we see it and it is no less odious when it comes from a prominent figure in academia.
So in this endeavor for morality and justice, we, the proud Zionist community of America, rose up. We lit up the phone lines of the Jewish Museum in New York and demanded that this event be canceled. We organized on social media, we emailed, we protested. We, this people, with a history, and a creed, and a culture, and a cause, which we intend to perpetuate with every fiber of our being, rose up and affected positive and meaningful change. And we have every intention to continue this fight for the right to be free.