Judith Butler, well-known feminist theorist and winner of the “bad writing contest” (
), will talk about “What is Critique?”. If we look at Butlers critique so far two trajectories occur: one concerned with feminist concepts of bodies, sex and gender and one concerned with slandering Israel. Yet in her most restrained comments she accuses Israel of the systematically “Killing of civilians”.
This Attitude of “I have never said this” and “Surprisingly I was misunderstood on that” – is stereotype from Judith Butler, well-known for amnesia. Directly or indirectly: in many other occasions she proclaimed the boycott of israeli universities:
If we ask Butler about any clearance she will give us some hogwash like this:
According to the speech in the video, just two companies who are indirectly involved into the production of israeli weaponry, should be boycotted. This calls for the disarmament of Israel in a total denial of the self-defensive character of the israeli military. Anyway, Judith Butler calls explicitely for the withdrawal of investive capital of universities in the USA from “the state of Israel”. (135) Not just two companies, but “the state of Israel”.
To be correct: Judith Butler critisizes at least in one quote a boycott that seeks to expell israeli scientists from universities. (145). But she does not question the way, her signature got into appeals that she herself claims to be anti-Semitic. And she denounces Summers through comparing his argument for Israel that she modifies to her liking with the mentality of those who boycott israeli scientists while mixing up jewish and israeli. (145f) Remembering this confusion it is not clear, if Judith Butler is against boycotting PRO-israeli scientists or just against mixing jewish identity with PRO-israeli identity.
She wants to have the term “slaughtering” used for palestinian fatalities – of a war that she always determines as being planned and wanted by Israel. Israel, so she states, “slaughters” Arabs in the same way Daniel Pearl had his head cut off in front of the camera by djihadists. The ritual murder of a Jew perpetrated by Djihadists should, referring to her, be thought of as the common method of Israeli military. (Gefährdetes Leben, 29, 31: “In welchem Ausmaß hat die Weigerung, den Tod von Palästinensern als “Abschlachten” zu verstehen, eine maßlose Wut auf Seiten der Araber erzeugt, die irgendeine legitime Anerkennung und Lösung für diesen anhaltenden Gewaltzustand suchen?”)
This is not singling out, it is malicious propaganda. Israel is not “singled out” from a pool of genocidal states like Congo or Sudan, but slandered, as it is far away from anything happening in these states.
She sees the primordial cause for 9/11 in American foreign policy. (20) She asks, why Israel calls terrorist acts terrorist but determines its own policy not as “terrorist”. (21) She blends the Chechen war into a “War of Independence” in which she does not mention fundamentalist terror or islamism (as she is far away from analyzing the violent and abusive Putin-Regime). The pre-2001 Taliban-Afghanistan to her was just a “souvereign state”. (25) She does not mention at all the racist tribal mentality of Pashtuns or the terror against women. In American foreign policy she sees a “circle of revenge”. (27) American foreign policy has according to her “desolated” (verwüstet) the world and from this world Bin Laden is made of. (27) She questions, if Palestinians are granted the status of life in American media. (29) In short, 9/11 was a reaction toward “US-Imperialism”. (31: “…unter denen diese Reaktionen [9/11] auf den US-Imperialismus weniger wahrscheinlich wird.”)
She does call for a “Gemeinschaft”. (36) She insinuates that Israel would make citizenship dependent on religious membership (119) – “forgetting” that one fifth of Israelis are arab muslims with full citizen rights. She votes for an international consensus establishing the right of palestine for self-determination against the supposed “… aufgeblähten und gewalttätigen Ausübung der souveränen Prärogative von seiten Israels”. (120) In a double-sentence she compares Israel to Nazi-Germany. (Which she later recalls in a perfect Freudian denial: 152): The accusation of anti-Semitism against Jews (… ruft Erinnerungen an jüdische Kollaborateure der Nazis wach. [...] Werden wir schweigen (und ein Kollaborateur illegitimer gewalttätiger Macht [Israels] sein? 123).
There is an irrational subject in Butlers text and this is Israel and the USA. Their politics are not thought to be in defense of precarious lifes, they are portrayed as cynical nazis, denying human status to the muslim victims of wars. This is a delusional perception at least.
She furthermore plays naive when she imputes to Summers that his critique of her slandering of Israel would be “calling any critique against Israel anti-semitic”. (126)
Her definition of anti-Semitism is crude. In the postscriptum for the German edition she suggests some particularities for German pettishness with the charge of anti-Semitism: “Wenn einige jüdische Stimmen entscheiden, daß ein Buch wie das von Ted Honderich antisemitisch ist, weil es Opposition gegenüber Israel (oder Sympathie mit der Intifada) ausdrückt, kann ich mir gut vorstellen, daß es für einige Deutsche sehr schwer ist, sich gegen diese Stimmen auszusprechen.” (149). Here we have again the picture of a jewish lobby at work denouncing honest, intifada-loving books as anti-Semitic while upright Germans are not able to speak out against this due to a guilt complex. As if the critique against Honderich was just uttered from jews and if there would be no rationale in such a critique. To proof the irrationality, Butler ironically suggests to censor books like Frantz Fanon or Lenin because they “support violent resistance against colonial rule or exploitative economical and political systems”. (“…dass sie auf verschiedene Weise gewaltsamen Widerstand gegen Kolonialherrschaft oder gegen ausbeuterische ökonomische oder politische Systeme unterstützen.” 149) It is very clear that Butler definition of power and violence is a blurring term, not capable of defining the particular historical, social and political layers that conflicts emerge from. She wants to use the “same passion” for figthing the “illegitime” violence used by Israel and the one used against Israel. (151) In this definition, the quality of death removes the quality of the cause of death. A dead person is dead. To Butler it is not important, if the person was killed by a maniac fighting against global jewry through suicide attacks or a soldier accidentially missing his aim. To any social scientist who IS interested in causes of violence and therefore preventing it, it is important if you suggest better military training, precise weaponry, cross-cultural training of soldiers to avoid ANY causalities (not only civilian, as Butler proposes in her outmoded division between civilians and “terrorists” and resistance fighters) or if you have to analyze the psychology of islamic anti-Semitism and the economy of terrorism.
One further quotation makes the ignorance of Butler evident: “Ein paar Tage später besuchte ich eine Konferenz, auf der ich einen Vortrag über die wichtigen kulturellen Bedeutungen der Burka hörte, darüber, wie sie für die Zugehörigkeit zu einer Gemeinschaft und Religion, zu einer Familie, zu einer umfangreichen Geschichte von Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen steht, daß sie eine Übung [SIC!] in Bescheidenheit und Stolz, einen Schutz vor Scham [SIC!] symbolisiert und daß sie auch als Schleier dient, hinter dem und durch den die weibliche Handlungsfähigkeit wirken kann. Die Sprecherin fürchtete, daß die Zerstörung der Burka [...] zu einer erheblichen Dezimierung der islamischen Kultur führen würde und zu einer Ausbreitung von US-amerikanischen kulturellen Annahmen, wie Sexualität und Handlungsfähigkeit zu organisieren und darzustellen sei.” (168)
Thus she quotes in a sympathizing way while critisizing US-military for feminist statements. In this passage her blunting, cynical impudence to follow the propaganda of terrorists who terrorize women throughout the world, imposing on them destructive sanctions if the don’t comply under the veil, becomes more than evident.
Surely Butler is not anti-Semite in a way that she hates Jews. But she is anti-Semite in a way that she does not give a damn on checking facts, on how she is repeating propaganda in a performative way, not questioning it. It is highly likely that her slandering of Israel is intertwined with the future casualities of humans (“Palestinians” and Jews) as she does not contribute to the solution of the conflict but on fudging the way her fans “read” the conflict between Israel and its haters and in instigating hatred against the rationale in Israels politics. She does, in her own theories words, not question the popular discourse about Israel that creates binaries in which Israel is not considered as a rational option but in which it is forced upon the signature of the irrationale, the other, the alien, the queer. Her theory defends queers. Her political opinion defines Burka-Fans as queers, defines Israel as the discoursive power that is threatening Islam, the queer of todays culturalists. Last but not least Butler has outspokenly supported Hamas as “part of the international left”, an organization that kills anything regarded as queer or feminist by the theory Butler propagates. Maybe we can not state that Butlers theory has lead to her collaboration with anti-Semitism, her anti-Semitic denials and her blindfolding. but we can at least say that Butlers theoretical work did not include any reflection on what Islamism and anti-Semitism is today and that therefore she should at least shut up as long as she has nothing else to contribute than the well-known hegemonic discourse of power imposed on Israel.
Citations from “Gefährdetes Leben. Politische Essays.” 2004, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp Verlag.