September 11 is Theodor W. Adorno’s birthday and the anniversary of history’s worst Islamistic terror attack. In Frankfurt/Main, Germany on that day the Adorno Award will be awarded. For some it may be a good thing to bestow one award after the other to the greatest social critics - but this years choice can only be called preposterous.
The reason: At the will of the city of Frankfurt this award shall this year be given to the American philosopher and literary scholar Judith Butler, whose prominence primarily consists in her being a mentor of the so called gender studies. She became known recently as well for her participation in campaigns to delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel. She is a leading activist in the “Campaign of Boycottes, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel” (BDS) which was founded in 2005. Within BDS she specifically calls for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions. Another prominent anti-Israel activist is Norman Finkelstein, who just recently freely admitted in an interview that BDS campaigns are dedicated to Israel’s destruction.(1)
Judith Butler considers mortal enemies of the Jewish state - Hamas and Hezhbollah - to be progressive leftist movements: “Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.”(2) Both are terror organizations whose declared goal is Israel’s annihilation as well as the murder and expulsion of the Jews from the Middle East and the establishment of an Islamist theocracy founded on terror and murder. In a perfidious twist of reality Butler not only belittles these Anti-Semitic gang of killers with their aspiration to establish theocratic-fascist dictatorships but also to equate the only democracy in the Middle East - Israel - with Apartheid South Africa and the War on Terror after 9/11 with the actions of the Nazis against the Jews.
Adorno, who himself was a victim of the monstrous Nazi race laws, not only was forced to save his life by going into exile; he was deprived of academic teaching because he was considered Jewish. His insight that Jewish statehood may be the only means to protect Jews from persecution arose his concern for Israel’s ever present endangered existence. More than 20 years after the Shoah he wrote: “We are in extreme worry about Israel… One can only hope the Israelis will be superior enough to the Arabs militarily for the time being to uphold the situation.”(3)
This year’s Adorno laureate calls for the boycott of Jewish academics and creative artists.(4) With her declarations and her anti-Israel involvement she contributes to the legitimization of forces pursuing the extinction of the state of the Shoah survivors and the replacement of that democracy by dictatorial theocracy. To associate this with Adorno’s Critical Theory is a way of post-modern discourse which found its way into the new German Anti-Semitism.
The board of trustees - whose members include former Lord Mayor Petra Roth as well as the leaders of the Institut für Sozialforschung and the Sigmund-Freud-Institut - called Butler one of the leading thinkers of our time. Were this the case it would first of all tell a lot about “our time” and the members of the board of trustees. Frau Roth should have skipped participation in the “I Like Israel” day and Frankfurt’s town twinning with Tel Aviv.
Such a prize giving ceremony means more than a mockery of its name giver; it’s part of the right now ongoing campaign in the academic world to separate the state of Israel from its home for the survivors of the Shoah, of seperating Zionims from Judaism and to take away Israel’s legitimacy. This inversion of reality re-labels the democratic state into an occupational regime; in the same way Anti-Semitic terror gangs are turned into freedom fighters. Consequently, there’s the propaganda designation of Israelis as today’s Nazis.
Adorno’s sentence, “You only need to look into the maniacally frozen eyes of those who maybe by invoking us turn their rage against us”, (5) - dropped after the Israeli ambassador was shouted down by delegates of the studens’ movement - applies all the more for events like these. Given the decision to award Judith Butler the term “foolishness of being bright” (6) imposes itself onto the affair.
But all those still being able to think critically, independently and impartially are called upon to join this demand:
No Adorno Award for Judith Butler
as a representative of the new Anti-Semitism!
Coalition: "No Adorno Award for Anti-Semites!"
All information and who have sign the Petition at
(1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONlacD6f1cg&feature=related (from 8:17 min.; last viewed: Aug.19, 2012)
(2) http://contested-terrain.net/jbutler-hamas-hezbollah-global-left http://radicalarchives.org/2010/03/28/jbutler-on-hamas-hezbollah-israel-lobby
(3) W. Kraushaar (ed., 1998), Frankfurter Schule und Studentenbewegung. Vol. 2, p. 652
(4) http://www.bdsmovement.net/2010/us-campaign-for-academic-boycott-gaining-strength-622#.T80fMVIWJRW (last viewed: Aug. 18, 2012)
http://rabble.ca/news/2011/03/judith-butler-speak-israeli-apartheid-week-toronto (last viewed: Aug. 18, 2012)
(5) Adorno, T.W./ Tobisch, L., Der private Briefwechsel (Graz/ Wien 2003), p. 197
(6) Horkheimer, M./ Adorno, T.W., Dialektik der Aufklärung. Aufzeichnungen und Entwürfe "Gegen Bescheidwissen", (Frankfurt/ M. 1988), p. 218 (Original: New York, 1944)
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