Friday, September 27, 2013

Come back Emma Goldman

Dr. Judith Butler, professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, talks at Vassar College about Zionism, anti-Semitism, and Palestinian rights.

She was great and the hall was packed full of people. What more did I want? Well maybe the recording could have been better; I did it on my iPhone.

No, there was something else missing. The students thought so anyway. By the end, they were playing video games on their phones or just dozing the way college students can do if they have been up too late the night before.

Maybe it was passion. Dr. Butler says the right things: Zionism has taken a militaristic turn, has fused the Jewish religion to the fascist state of Israel, and has excused that state's apartheid ways by using the Holocaust.

According to Dr. Butler, Jews have always taken the side of human rights victims against their oppressor. Now influential Jews in America attack the critics of apartheid Israel by calling them anti-Semitic. How that cheapens the term, and makes it unusable in really fighting the anti-Semitism that still exists worldwide.

But the talk left me wishing for that fiery Emma Goldman. She would have left the crowd cheering or maybe chasing her out of the hall. Social justice can't be divorced from passion. Human rights should get us worked up; it should be the center of our being.

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