Eva Illouz on the award of the Adorno prize to Judith Butler - an excellent article. Good criticisms of Butler herself, and a principled defense of the committee that awarded the prize to her. A sample:
Criticism of Butler
At first blush, the case against Butler seems strong. Her anti-Zionism does not always seem to be fully aware of the tangled history of this country, and her calls to boycott and divest from Israel would disempower the groups most likely to help fight the cause of justice here. More perplexing is the fact that she has made statements expressing partial support for Hezbollah and Hamas. In response to a question at a public talk, she claimed that the two well-known Islamic military and religious groups are members of the global left. The syllogism behind this stunning proposition is that anti-imperialism and anticolonialism, in all its forms, define the global left, that Hamas and Hezbollah fight against Israeli imperialism, ergo they belong to the “global left.” (What is the mysterious entity called “global left,” I cannot say).
Defense of the committee
3. While I fully understand the source of the distress expressed by the German Jewish community, their interference represents a tactical and moral mistake. The place to fight opinions like those of Judith Butler is in the public sphere. Increasingly, Jewish groups inside and outside Israel are using what can be easily interpreted as bullying tactics to silence their opponents. Israeli policies toward Palestinians, Eritrean refugees and non-Jewish immigrants are morally indefensible; the critiques against these policies will be increasingly strident, and among these critiques some will be worthy, some unworthy. Muzzling critiques, even the unworthy ones, cannot be a valid response. In fact, it only proves the main point of the critiques, namely that Israel and the people supporting Israel are increasingly relying on undemocratic politics and tactics. Democracy is nothing more than agreeing to oppose both worthy and unworthy opinions in the same way. Some of Judith Butler’s political opinions are unworthy, but the only proper way to fight them is through argument and debate, not through institutional muscle power.