Is Judith Butler the New Edward Said?
Is Judith Butler the New Edward Said?
Of all the non-Middle East specialists writing on the Middle East, few have been as prolific or as indecipherable as Judith Butler. More than an academic, she has become a pop culture figure. In an age of identity politics, Butler's identity as a Marxist, feminist, lesbian practitioner of critical theory who writes prolifically about gender and transgenderism have made her among the most-interviewed active college professors. But her anti-Israel advocacy has made her a star, and a possible successor to the late Edward Said, another academic whose fame rests more on tendentious scholarship and agitprop than rigorous, objective research.The UN’s Long, Shameful History on Israel
With a Ph.D. in philosophy and a professorship at UC Berkeley's Comparative Literature department, Butler might have led a career as a big name academic, which is to say very well known by perhaps as much as one tenth of one percent of the American population. But as the face of academe's Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, she reaches and influences a much wider audience.
Butler's turn away from literature and language theory in favor of Middle East politics, criticism of U.S. foreign policy, and demonization of Israel came in a collection of essays titled Precarious Life (2004) in which she focused on the effects of the 9/11 attacks on America. What many people would describe as an atrocity, Butler describes as a "dislocation from first-world privilege, however temporary." Her condemnation of terrorism rings about as hollow as Kofi Annan's or Yassir Arafat's.
Not only is Butler unwilling to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, her tepid equivocation contains more than a hint of comradery: "Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements." Despite the great admiration that the Left has for Hamas and Hezbollah, neither group shares any of the Left's ideals and anyone claiming otherwise is delusional.
The Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post was originally called The Palestine Post. It adopted its current name in 1950, two years after the creation of the state of Israel.Brandeis Hires Anti-Semitic Islamist With Al-Qaeda Links
When the paper first appeared in 1932, the word “Palestinian” generally referred to those living in the British Mandate of Palestine. It was viewed by people everywhere as an appropriate word to describe the Jewish minority living in the area.
Languages change. Sometimes a word takes on a meaning that contradicts an earlier definition. Occasionally, different forms of a word reflect both meanings. Think of “awful” and “awesome” in English today. We can be filled with awe because something is terrible (awful) or wonderful (awesome).
In 1947, when “Palestine” still sounded like it might refer to a Jewish state, the United Nations voted to divide the territory into two countries: one Jewish and one Arab. The UN intended to create two independent states that would live together in peace and harmony.
One of the two halves — Israel — accepted its independence. The other side did not. On the day that Britain left and Israel declared its independence, five Arab nations invaded the whole territory, with the intent of conquering, and destroying, the Jewish half. Besides pushing the Jews into the sea, it was not clear what they wanted to do with the actual territory had they been victorious. Yet when the war was over and Israel controlled more land than the UN planned to give it, the remaining Arab territory went to Jordan and Egypt. There was no movement for an independent Palestinian Arab state.
In 2016, Brandeis University hired an anti-Semitic Islamist formerly linked to al-Qaeda to teach students about Islam.
Brandeis offered Boston-based cleric Suheil Laher a job in its Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department despite his long history of involvement with extremist causes. That history includes his leadership of a now-defunct charity that raised funds for jihadist causes in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.
This academic year, Laher is teaching two courses at Brandeis: “Introduction to the Qu’ran” and “Muhammad: Life, Teachings, and Legacy.” Given Laher’s past, what strain of Islam is he likely to promote?
Before Brandeis, Laher was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Muslim chaplain for almost twenty years. While at MIT, he also served, from 2000, as head of a Boston-based charity named CARE International (not to be confused with the current charity of the same name). Originally named the “Al Kifah Refugee Center,” the charity was founded by Abdullah Azzam, a founding member of al-Qaeda and a mentor to Osama Bin Laden.