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February 19, 2014 6:20 pm

Anti-Israel Professor Judith Butler to Speak at NYC Jewish Museum

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Judith Butler. Photo: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel.

Jewish anti-Israel professor Judith Butler will be featured by New York’s Jewish Museum in an event about existentialist Jewish writer Franz Kafka, and her critics on Wednesday were quick to call out the institution and its chief curator for their “Kafka-esque” move.

Israeli artist, playwright and professor, Dahn Hiuni, who pilloried Butler last week in an interview in The Algemeiner, on Wednesday said he was “speechless” and that the news of the Jewish Museum event was “horrible, but upon reflection, I’m not surprised.”

Hiuni said that Chief Curator Norman Kleeblatt, who “likes to travel in those academic circles,” should be criticized for the decision to host Butler at a  Jewish venue because of what she represents. “As PhDs in art history, they are aligned with ultra-left, politically correct bodies, such as the College Art Association (CAA), where there is much anti-Israel sentiment.”

Last week, Hiuni, son of the late Israeli film producer and writer Amatsia Hiuni, described to The Algemeiner how he was so ashamed at Butler’s recent anti-Israel commentary that he petitioned Penn state, the university where he received his doctorate, to strike all the references to her in his 2005 thesis.

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Hiuni said he had created a new movement called RDS -Retractions and Disavowals in Scholarship – to discourage Butler’s brand of academic support for BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanction movement.

His goal, he said, is to transform the public debate over BDS into one about RDS by encouraging academics to revisit their work to excise all the references from scholars who have lost credibility in the past few years as public intellectuals because of their support for radical anti-Israel groups, especially those academics whose specialties have nothing to do with the subject matter.

Butler is a Comparative Literature and Critical Theory professor, at University of California, Berkeley, visiting professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, in New York, and is the Hannah Arendt Chair, European Graduate School, in Switzerland. Rather than for work in her field of expertise, Butler is being criticized for her  “extra-curricular activities,” in Hiuni’s words, namely, her political writing against Israel.

In an article entitled The Voices of BDSpublished by The Algemeiner, Asaf Romirowsky, Middle East analyst and adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defense for Democracies and the Middle East Forum, wrote that Butler “loathes Israel to a point where she has unapologetically whitewashed Israel’s foes, labeling Hamas and Hezbollah [now recognized internationally as terrorist groups] as ‘social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.'”

Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon described Butler‘s writing on Israel as “trying to use ‘Jewish ethics’ to prove that Zionism is illegitimate.”

Her critics, including Hiuni, also point out that Butler, a Jewish, American, lesbian intellectual, might thrive within modern Israel, but could be executed by the very same Hamas and Hezbollah movements that she praises.

“I am very frustrated with their ambivalence, people who have never even been to Israel,  a Jew, a lesbian, an intellectual, faulting Israeli democracy and praising its opposite, Hamas or Hezbollah,” Hiuni said last week. “The world has gone mad, but it’s our duty as artists to find ways to tell the truth.”

Fittingly, the March 6th Jewish Museum event is entitled, “Wish You Were Here: Franz Kafka.” The museum describes the Butler event as a “conversation between Franz Kafka, represented by Judith Butler, and Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs,” from the museum.

The second event in its 10-part ‘Wish You Were Here’ series, the show features Hoffman re-interviewing a subject of Andy Warhol’s 1980 iconic collection, ‘Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century,‘ with the luminaries now portrayed by “prominent experts, as if each were coming to the Museum to have a conversation in the present day.”

In December, Dr. Sigmund Freud was interpreted by Freud scholar Michael S. Roth, and the museum said on Wednesday that future events will include George Gershwin and Gertrude Stein. Warhol’s collection also featured paintings of Golda Meir and Louis Brandeis.

In a statement to The Algemeiner, The Jewish Museum’s communication department said: “Dialogue and the sharing of multiple perspectives related to art and Jewish culture are central to The Jewish Museum’s public programs.”

“Judith Butler is a noted scholar and author who has lectured and written extensively on Franz Kafka,” it said. “Her politics were not a factor in her participation. Program speakers are chosen on the basis of their expertise in the subject to be discussed not their personal political views.”

Hiuni said: “Of course, she is welcome to speak about Kafka anywhere she is invited, I just think it’s in poor taste.”

“I cannot help but come back to the irony of her name,” he said. “Judith, Jewess, from Judea. It’s so ridiculous.” The BDS movement insists Judea should not belong to Jews. “How Kakfa-esque.”

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