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February 20, 2014 9:28 pm

Judith Butler Talk at New York’s Jewish Museum Canceled

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Judith Butler at a lecture at the University of Hamburg, April 2007. Photo: Jreberlein.

JNS.orgAnti-Israel professor Judith Butler on Thursday withdrew from an event at The Jewish Museum of New York that she was scheduled to address, the museum said.

The March 6 event titled “Wish You Were Here: Franz Kafka“ was set to feature several experts on 20th-century literature speaking on the works of Jewish existentialist author Franz Kafka.

Butler, a professor of comparative literature and critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley, is an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies and a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Despite the event being non-political, critics contended that hosting someone who advocates against Israel at a museum that receives charitable contributions from the Jewish community crossed the line.

“The hosting of [BDS] advocate Judith Butler by The Jewish Museum is a slap in the face to every Jew,” Richard Allen, head of JCC Watch, told

The museum said in a statement, “[Butler] was chosen on the basis of her expertise on the subject matter to be discussed. While her political views were not a factor in her participation, the debates about her politics have become a distraction making it impossible to present the conversation about Kafka as intended.”

This is not the first event involving Butler that has sparked controversy in the New York region. Last year, pro-Israel groups at Brooklyn College sought to pressure the school to drop Butler from an event there. Brooklyn College, however, held the event, citing academic freedom.

Butler said in The Jewish Museum’s statement, “I was very much looking forward to the discussion of Kafka in The Jewish Museum, and to affirm the value of Kafka’s literary work in that setting.”

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