Subscribe: Comments on: Implicated and enraged: an interview with Judith Butler
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Comments on: Implicated and enraged: An interview with Judith Butler

Secularism, religion, and the public sphere

Last Build Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2017 21:37:10 +0000


By: Steve Murgaski

Tue, 13 Mar 2012 19:39:01 +0000

Michael wrote: "to gloss Israeli policies as the sheer racism of a “clever security state” is laughable and insulting to the ethnically, racially and culturally diverse citizens of Israel, the majority of whom support Palestinian autonomy but find few practical options for establishing it." I believe your point actually reinforces Ms. Butler's 'gloss.' What else but a clever (sophisticated?) security state could implement policies that go against the wishes of a majority of its citizens, while still maintaining a democratic veneer?

By: Christina Crosby

Sat, 30 Apr 2011 00:31:22 +0000

I agree with Ali Altaf Mian's characterization of Judith Butler's ethical stance, and I admire the lucidity of her presentation. There are too few public figures who can articulate an ethical understanding adequate to the complexity of the world.

By: Ali Altaf Mian

Thu, 07 Apr 2011 19:22:32 +0000

Judith Butler's responses to many of the questions above illustrate acute ethicality and a sense of responsibility toward issues of justice. The point is not to expect those who critique Israel for its draconian political and policy practices to also critique every form of political injustice in the world, such as those in Africa and Kashmir, for example. Such an expectation presupposes that every individual should be concerned about every political problem, and such an approach neglects how our relationships and context-based notions and practices of self are important. Rather, the point is that Butler models for us how to think critically and ethically in a trans-contextual framework. If I'm more concerned about Kashmir than Palestine, then questions from that context should be brought into my criticality and ethicality. I also think that it's a grave misreading of Butler to think that she's assuming Israel to be Idi Amin's Uganda---a misreading that either willfully or unknowingly only becomes an obstruction to realize the ethical impulse in Butler's remarks.

By: Rachel

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 18:27:41 +0000

To Michael (commentator, above): It is absolutely vital that we get out of this binarist thinking that one must be "pro-Israel" or "pro-Palestinian," in a black-and-white sense. To pursue a resolution to that conflict is to be interested in a better situation for that region as a whole, and the world at large. The concentration of violence and hatred between Israeli Jews and Palestinians is a microcosm of broader legacies of colonialism across the world. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are, like racism, wrapped up in collective memories of oppression on behalf of both parties. And lastly, democracy is an empty, lifeless word if it looks anything remotely like what we see in Israel and the Occupied Territories today.

By: Deborah

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 09:57:39 +0000

A very interesting interview. I will give it to my students to read. I really don't see Butler speaking of Israel as it if were "Idi Amin's Uganda." This is a misreading. Also, to say that Israel is a vibrant democracy may be true for Jews is to ignore that it is not a vibrant democracy for 20% of its citizens who as I write are increasingly under attack from Israel's right wing "government." To simply repeat cliches about Israel---ones we were all taught as children, like the "vibrant democracy" one---is in the present moment to fall back on habit. I doubt that there are any "vibrant democracies" in the age of securitizing the globe and in a period of tremendous wealth transfer. States cannot afford it, if they are to manage populations that are restive. We have to suppress a lot of changes going on in statecraft in reaction to global forces to cheerlead in this way for any state right now.

By: Myron Joshua

Mon, 04 Apr 2011 07:36:02 +0000

I would like to hear responses to the question of in what ways Israel is a "Jewish" State, in the religious sense and in what ways it is secular. Her understanding seems superficial. Judith Butler claims that the creation of Israel as such created a "new stateless class." Israel does face the challenges of discrimination and equality, civil rights and the rights to collective expression vis-à-vis its Palestinian and other minority citizens. But these citizens are not "stateless." The plight of the "stateless" Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (and Lebanon, etc.) was not caused by the establishment of Israel per se, but due to the actions of all sides of the conflict in the wake of the war on the fledgling state in 1947. So unlike her claim that the creation of the stateless class led to conflict, I would say the conflict, non-acceptance of a democratic state of Israel, led to the creation of a stateless class. Israel faces multiple ethical challenges of state and religion, discrimination, potential racism and occupation. Its report card in these areas may not be sufficient but it is important to examine each "subject" individually and understand the uniqueness of each challenge rather than conflate them all under the title of Jewish Religious Sovereignty and a "stateless class."

By: Michael

Sun, 03 Apr 2011 02:43:50 +0000

I am endlessly perplexed by the cultivated incapacity of my fellow Left intellectuals to think clearly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I am mystified by Professor Butler's claim that many of us are reluctant to engage it for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. On the contrary, every single fellow academic I know has strong and explicit pro-Palestinian views. Indeed, most, like Butler, speak of Israel as if it is in all relevant respects comparable to Idi Amin's Uganda. The American academic Left, including Butler, conveniently overlooks such minor details as the fact that Israel is a vibrant democracy—far more vibrant than the U.S. There are dozens of active political parties, overwhelming voter turnout, and extraordinary levels of education and political engagement. So to gloss Israeli policies as the sheer racism of a "clever security state" is laughable and insulting to the ethnically, racially and culturally diverse citizens of Israel, the majority of whom support Palestinian autonomy but find few practical options for establishing it. On the other hand, I search in vain for public signs of Professor Butler's outrage about China's treatment of Uighurs, Tibetans and countless other ethnic and religious minorities. Why is it that, despite her supposed concerns about charges of anti-Semitism or self-hatred, she finds it so much easier to express her outrage at Israel than she does at China, or Somalia, or Yemen?