Israeli Apartheid Week Day 3 – Judith Butler and the Universal Boycott

Tonight I saw Judith Butler speak at U of T in support of a boycott of all Israeli firms towards 3 demands: End the Occupation, Equal Rights for Palestinian Citizens of Israel, and the Right of Return. Except I didn’t really see Judith Butler, because I was at the front of the line when they stopped letting people into the room – arriving nearly 2 hours early was not good enough to ensure a seat. But, we had a great, if strange view in the overflow room. Many people were turned away even from that – the room held 250 people, and the overflow room 150. About 900 showed up. I feel the sheer number of people who showed up is significant.

I’ll write a comprehensive summery/analysis of her talk, but I’m too tired right now and I’ve got to teach in the morning. Hopefully I can bring this to you guys tomorrow afternoon.

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4 thoughts on “Israeli Apartheid Week Day 3 – Judith Butler and the Universal Boycott

  1. On the very day which any of these three demands is passed Israel’s demise will also be signaled. For what is Israel if not a vital depth for the Western powers into the very core of this region. Any of these three demands being passed means that Israel has lost that vitality and might as well be done away with. Distance is Israel’s raison d’être and must be maintained by sheer force and must build facts upon the ground and must make certain things understood. Should there be no distance, should these three demands pass, then why should Israel continue to exist.

  2. Pierre,

    If “Israel” means “the state of the Jews”, then I agree that it should cease to exist. But, if Israel becomes a state of its citizens, and a state with a special relationship to refugees of all colours and creeds, then it could regain a new vitality as a state against oppression. That would be a difficult and complex transition, on account of Israel’s statehood being built on a contradiction – the “law of return” comes at the expense of the creation of refugees – but not impossible.

  3. For Israel to undergo such a fundamental change we all know that it would cease to be “Israel.” Its character, role, and function will all be changed. As I said, for Israel to accept the “law of return,” she would have to to overturn it’s reason for existence and become something else. I am an Arab and I feel that Israel is an integral part of the Western world; a sort of spear shot into this region’s heart. For Israel to be a state of its citizens, the dynamics of power — between the Arab world and the West — would have to change (and a Ghandian approach — although by itself is a tremendous help and indeed necessary — will not suffice.) Blood will be shed…

    I recognize Palestine — neither the de facto Israel nor the Israel for all its citizens.

    I realize that this might come out a bit blunt, but that is how I feel.

  4. ” we all know that it would cease to be “Israel.””

    Appeal to popularity

    “Its character, role, and function will all be changed.”

    Exaggeration

    “she would have to to overturn it’s reason for existence and become something else”

    Something can become something else, and yet still be what it is. Transformation is not an either-or but a continuity.

    “For Israel to be a state of its citizens, the dynamics of power — between the Arab world and the West — would have to change”

    That would be a great thing.

    “Blood will be shed…”

    This assertion depends on the assumption that non-violent means of resistance are always less effective/forceful than violent means. I think this is simply wrong, since violent resistance “justifies” state violence.

    “I recognize Palestine — neither the de facto Israel nor the Israel for all its citizens.”

    I think recognition is a practical issue. For now I recognize Palestine as a state established by the Arab territory conquered in 1967. Moving forward I hope states wither away entirely, and this is not an entirely impossible idea.

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