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August 30, 2012 11:29 am

Judith Butler and the Crime of Academic Inverse Liberalism

avatar by Dovid Efune

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Judith Butler. Photo: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel.

In September philosopher Prof. Judith Butler is slated to receive the prestigious Adorno prize awarded by the City of Frankfurt, Germany every three years, for excellence in philosophy, music, film, and theater.

The decision has attracted intense criticism from Israel’s top diplomat in Germany, and Jewish groups from across the political spectrum, as Butler has expressed positions relating to Israel which are morally perverse at best and could feasibly be interpreted as bigoted.

The comments deemed most offensive, were made at a 2006 teach-in at UC Berkeley. Addressing a question about the relationship between ‘The Left’ and terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, she responded, “I think, 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.”

Following the recent criticism voiced, Butler penned a column defending her statements. After a long introduction explaining her personal understanding of Judaism, she writes; “My remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah have been taken out of context and badly distort my established and continuing views.”

She continues, “I was asked by a member of an academic audience a few years ago whether I thought Hamas and Hezbollah belonged to “the global left” and I replied with two points. My first point was merely descriptive: those political organizations define themselves as anti-imperialist, and anti-imperialism is one characteristic of the global left, so on that basis one could describe them as part of the global left.”

It is clear to the observer upon reading her precise statement and watching the video of it, as pointed out by others, that in fact her point was by no means descriptive but strongly prescriptive.

But what is further troublesome, and equally worthy of consideration by those responsible for highlighting her personality by presenting her with the award, are the comments she wrote in her own defense.

She admits that the claims of Hezbollah and Hamas in “define(ing) themselves as anti-imperialist” are basis enough for her to describe them as part of the global left.

In doing so, she has starkly debased her own academic integrity, as the reality of these organizations couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in deed, action and mantra, Hamas and Hezbollah represent the embodiment of imperialist behavior. Hezbollah militarily occupies large swathes of Southern Lebanon, as a well-documented proxy of a foreign power, Iran. Hamas occupies Gaza which it seized in a military coup, and exercises totalitarian control over its inhabitants.

Both organizations are constitutionally mandated to extend their imperialist ambitions over the neighboring sovereign state of Israel.

Butler has done away with all semblance of critical thought and swallowed the words of an internationally recognized terror group’s parroting apparatchiks as fact. There is not a shred of evidence to support their ‘anti-imperialist’ claim and her support of it.

It is sad that her positions are by no means unique in academic circles, but the prominence of the award provides an opportunity for the moral community to highlight and protest the spreading of her particular brand of what one might simply refer to as ‘Inverse Liberalism.’

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at

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  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    As a Frankfurter Jewish German more than familiar with Adorno himself from our common academic time at the Frankfurt University and with the Adorno award, which is intended to recognize outstanding achievement in CULTURE, mainly in philosophy, theatre, music, and film.
    Judith Butler would most probably have been Adorno’s choice, too, would he still be alive. Judith is one of the greatest academic and cultural minds of the first dozen of years in the new millennium. Something Mr. Efune certainly can’t claim, despite his attempt to denigrate the object of his inquisitor mind when it comes to the (majority of the world’s) Jews who still are as they were until the end of the 19th century: non-Zionists …

    The dogs bark in the dark while the caravan passes by. It already happened to many of the brightest Jewish minds since 1948: They became victims of the Zionist aggressiveness against all who refused to embrace their ethno-religious nationalism and segregationism. Judith experiences today what Hannah Arendt hat to go through 50 years ago.
    Judith, we stand by you.

    • Gil Franco

      So, are you saying that she should be awarded the prize because of or despite her support of nationalistic and chauvinistic organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and her quite transparent lies about her position?


      “Educated beyond your ability for rational thought”

      Not to mention brainwashed beyond belief…

  • Esther Sarah Evans

    If I correctly remember Adorno’s response to the Shoah, I can scarcely imagine that he would feel ok about this prize allotment.
    When the upholders of those who would murder some more of us (and already have murdered some)are granted this recognition, then Hitler, yemach shemo, won.
    This appears to be another proof of what I have observed before, that many Germans did not, do not, will not understand or feel a thing – except maybe for themselves and are therefore in danger of committing the same crimes again.

  • Marilynne Mellander

    Egads! Another obviously lesbian New Ager! God save us
    from the likes of this woman

    • Chaya

      Can someone please explain to me
      why feminists aren’t protesting against
      Sharia law?

  • Edouard M. Marelli

    If for Pr. Judith Butler the argumentof anti-imperialism is sufficient to describe “left & leftist, please dear Pr explain to me what is nationalism. And then U.S are the center of left movment in the world. By the way, what does mean “anti-imperialism”?. This concept was created in the early ’50 ies by the mopst “left” regim at that time, I mean USSRand comparses.
    Dear Pr, do yo mean that China, Iran, Algeria Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos…etc…etc are left- anti-imperialist countries? Thank you for your semantcal explanation.
    P.s.: I apologise for my english, I’m not english- or amercan- mother tongue.