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December 5, 2019 4:12 pm

‘The Trouble With Jews Today’: UK Newspaper Embroiled in Antisemitism Row Over Trendy Philosopher’s Op-Ed Attacking Israeli ‘Occupation’

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Philosopher and author Slavoj Zizek. Photo: Flickr.

British newspaper The Independent on Thursday amended an article in its opinion section to remove the phrase “the trouble with Jews today” after readers slammed the outlet for publishing a generic attack on Jewish people.

An opinion piece by Slavoj Zizek — a Slovenian philosopher and critic whose work is regarded as seminal by postmodernists — that ran on Tuesday began a paragraph with the sentence: “However, the trouble with the Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.”

Carrying the weighty headline “There is no conflict between the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against Israeli occupation,” Zizek’s piece was a robust defense of the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who faces a general election on Dec. 12 dogged by the accusation that Labour has become “institutionally antisemitic.”

Attacking Zionism for allegedly bowing to the antisemitic idea that Jews do not belong among non-Jews, Zizek argued that the Jewish presence in Israel was also problematic because of its impact on the Palestinian Arabs.

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On Thursday, the sentence containing the wording “the trouble with Jews” was corrected by one of The Independent‘s editors. The sentence now reads: “However, the trouble with the settlement project today is that it is now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.”

An accompanying clarification at the top of the article noted that the text “was amended on 5 December 2019.”

Said The Independent: “We acknowledge that an earlier version of this piece did not meet our own editorial standards.”

Among the critics of the Zizek piece was the media watchdog Honest Reporting, which remarked that the philosopher had made sure “to give himself immunity from accusations of antisemitism by claiming that he ‘of course, indisputably reject[s] antisemitism in all its forms.'”

The same article observed that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism “includes: ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.'”

It continued: “For [Zizek], Israel is ‘the trouble with Jews today.'”

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