Honoring Judith Butler a Setback to German-Israeli Relations

September 10, 2012 -- Berlin -- AJC called a German foundation’s decision to honor American philosopher Judith Butler “a major step backwards for German-Israeli understanding.”

Butler, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, will receive the Theodor Adorno Award in Frankfurt tomorrow. The award, bestowed by the Adorno Foundation in Frankfurt to outstanding proponents of Theodor Adorno’s philosophical approach of critical theory, has touched off a major controversy, given Butler’s admiration of terrorist organizations that seek Israel’s destruction.

“It is difficult to understand why a major German award is given to a leader of the global anti-Israeli movement to delegitimize and demonize the state of Israel,” said Deidre Berger, Director of AJC Berlin. “Further, it is not the first time Germany has honored a notoriously anti-Israel Jewish figure. Human rights attorney Felicia Langer received the German Federal Cross of Merit in 2009.”

Butler has called Hamas and Hezbollah progressive left-wing social movements. “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” she said.

A leading advocate of the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) campaign against Israel and a regular speaker at anti-Israel apartheid events on North American university campuses, Butler urges the boycott of all Israeli institutions that do not expressly condemn Israeli occupation.

Butler’s supporters claim that the prize is being awarded solely for her path-breaking gender studies and other theoretical works. 

“While we are disappointed with the Adorno Foundation’s decision, Butler should use this opportunity to distance herself clearly from Hamas and Hezbollah, two global terror organizations supported by Iran and Syria,” said Berger.

During his exile in the U.S., Theodor Adorno wrote portions of his famed work “The Authoritarian Personality” for AJC’s research division, which was founded in 1944 by his colleague Max Horkheimer.

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