“On Friday evening, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek gave a lecture in a bookstore in Central Tel Aviv teeming with familiar faces of leftwing activists. It was hosted by Udi Aloni, an Israeli-American artist and BDS activist, who just completed a book entitled What Does a Jew Want, which is edited by Zizek.
Many seem to have come with the expectation to hear Zizek rip into Israel and use his wry wit and charisma in such a bourgeoises Tel Aviv setting to endorse the BDS Movement. Indeed when Udi Aloni introduced Zizek, he identified himself as an activist on behalf of BDS and said he chose the bookstore as a venue in order to not cooperate with any formal Israeli institution.
However, Zizek did not officially endorse or even talk much about BDS – and when he did it was because he was prompted to during Q&A. His two clear statements about BDS were that a) he is not 100% behind it and b)he supports a movement that is initiated jointly by Palestinians and Israeli here in the region.
Rather, Zizek spent almost two hours with the crowd’s undivided attention talking about antisemitism, capitalism and the place of the Jew in the world. He warned that antisemitism is “alive and kicking” in Europe and America and asserted that the State of Israel should worry more about Christian right antisemitism rather than wasting its energy on self-proclaimed Jewish anti-Zionists. He said that the Christian Zionists in America are inherently antisemitic and that Israel’s willingness to embrace their support is baffling.
After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic. He also spoke about his well-known argument regarding Zionist antisemitism, whereby Zionists use antisemitic language towards fellows Jews in accusing them of not being Zionist enough. This was his main critique of Israel – its witch hunt against those Jews it finds not “Zionist enough.”
Raincoat Optimist comments:
“What to some might appear like Zizek withholding sympathy for Palestinians, is in actual fact highlighting the paternalism and snobbery of some pro-Palestinians, who believe those who are lesser off than them should be pitied, left to their own devices, and if they express antisemitic views, well, who can blame them, ‘eh, after all they don’t know any better do they, they’re poor – and as all people know poor people are stupid and don’t deserve to be told they’re wrong to blame the Jews for their plight.”
For: Dr. John Chalcraft
Arguing in favour of the motion will be Dr. Chalcraft, who having studied at Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford, gained a doctorate with distinction in the modern history of the Middle East in 2001. He is currently a reader in the History and Politics of Empire/Imperialism in the Department of Government at the LSE.
Against: Prof. Daniel Hochhauser
Arguing against the motion will be Professor Hochhauser, who is Kathleen Ferrier Professor of Medical Oncology at UCL. He is a consultant medical oncologist at UCLH specialising in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer.
For tickets email Su.Soc.Israel@lse.ac.uk by 6pm tomorrow (12th January)
Do go along and give Daniel, and the anti-boycotters at LSE some support.
A joint event hosted by the LSESU Israel Society and LSESU Palestine
6 pm – 7.30 pm
Thursday 13th January 2011
Old building, Old Theatre, LSE
The New Israel Fund is a Jewish Israeli not-for-profit-organisation that, in its own words, is “committed to equality and democracy for all Israelis”. In the past year, NIF has found itself in an unusual position – under attack from all sides: from both right wing activists in Israel, as well as international left and anti-Zionist activists calling for the boycott of Israeli civil society.
In a recent article in Zeek magazine (Don’t Divest; Invest), NIF’s Naomi Pass slammed boycott, sanctions and divestment as a “blunt force” that “penalizes the innocent” and contributes to the rightwards shift among moderate Israelis:
“We see global BDS as a tactic that embodies the message that Israel cannot and will not change itself, and for that reason, we think it is inflammatory and counter-productive. We see proposals that would ban Israeli academics, no matter what their personal and political views may be, from participation in the free exchange of ideas in international conferences. We see artists and musicians, who often come bearing badly-needed messages of peace and tolerance, being urged to take Israel off their tour itineraries…
The Australian Workers Union believes that “a-worker-is-a-worker-is-a-worker“.
“I am proud of the fact that our union believes in, and supports, democratic societies, democratic institutions. I am proud to say our union has a long history of supporting the building of democratic civil society groups – like unions.
Well, how am I to apply AWU tradition in the context of the Middle East? I think I am upholding that union tradition when I work to support the development of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions as an independent, democratic, civic society institution.
I think I am upholding that union tradition as I stand with the union movements of both Israel and Palestine, as they fight for workers rights on both sides of the Green Line.I think I am upholding that union tradition when I support the trust-building co-operative projects that the Israeli trade union movement – led by the Histadrut – and the Palestinian trade union movement – led by the PGFTU – are promoting.
If you truly believe that a-worker-is-a-worker-is-a-worker then the function of any trade union is to ensure fair pay for a fair day’s work and a safe and healthy workplace. This applies to an Israeli worker , this applies to a Palestinian worker. I can’t see how you can discriminate between an Israeli worker and a Palestinian worker. (Let alone a foreign worker from Asia or Africa working in Israel).
Our task now is to support and ensure that trade unions – Israeli or Palestinian – have the capacity to address these issues; and to do so co-operatively. It is because of these principles that I joined with fellow union leaders in the UK and the USA to establish Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP).
That leads me to the new threat to Israel – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).”