The march against antisemitism on November 12 in France was considered a success. But it took place in a strange context: on the one hand, a historically antisemitic party took part in the march in good spirits, declaring itself “the best shield for the Jews of France”; on the other hand, a party that claims to be historically in the anti-antisemitic camp refused to take part in the march, spreading the idea with increasing insistence that there is a “state philosemitism” in France. In such a situation, it’s easy to get confused about antiracism. Last weekend “everything revolved around the question: not what it means to be (specifically) antisemitic, but who is (really) antisemitic”. Such are the times we live in, very specific but ultimately not very innovative in terms of the malign association of Jews with state power. Despite this continuity, it is urgent to ask ourselves what it means to be antisemitic in France today.
It is deplorable that first-year students express their outrage by claiming in their slogans and tweets that Israelis are committing “genocide”. In itself, of course, the outrage is understandable. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the deaths of Palestinian civilians represent a critical reality that it would be unworthy not to face, and it is perhaps not surprising that for some the refusal to trivialise this tragedy can lead to a disregard for the correct characterisation of reality. Today in K. we are publishing two texts that respond to this verbal inflation. The first, which is in itself a brief clarification, is written by four of Germany’s leading intellectuals, representatives of the Frankfurt School or working in its wake: Jürgen Habermas, Rainer Forst, Nicole Deitelhoff and Klaus Günther. That “the criteria for judging [the situation] get completely out of whack when genocidal intentions are attributed to Israeli actions” is the clarification that the centre of critical theory is making in the current public debate.
Our second article on the question of the right words focuses more specifically on those whose job it is to analyse and understand. It is intellectually concerning to witness a Professor at the Collège de France claiming to offer a “deciphering,” in line with the “social sciences’ role,” by stating there are “alarming similarities” between the mass extermination of the Hereros by the Germans in the early 20th century and the current events in Gaza, while also taking pride in their “historical responsibility to prevent what could be the first genocide of the 21st century.” “Comparisons cannot be considered as reasons,” notes Didier Fassin in his article titled “The spectre of genocide in Gaza” published in AOC. Fassin’s sentiment is shared by us, and numerous writings have raised the matter of the incompatibility of his analogies with the situation, which he uses as a form of ‘thinking’ that social sciences rejected for their lack of scientific validity. Such usage can only be seen as a symptom of thoughtless writing. A group of philosophers, historians, and sociologists, including various members of K.‘s editorial team, collectively addressed Didier Fassin in AOC. They emphasized that regarding Jews as allochthonous colonisers as part of a genocidal logic can undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel’s very existence. (Note: No changes required as the original text adheres to the given principles.) In Philosophie Magazine and K. The article raises the issue of safeguarding the accurate meaning of words, such as “genocide,” and maintaining the historical facts’ integrity. The article specifically pertains to the Middle East’s history and the legitimacy of Israel. Didier Fassin has responded to some criticisms that he received, which are somewhat unclear, as stated in “Ne pas renoncer à penser,” published in AOC. “At no point have I questioned the legitimacy of the State of Israel,” he writes. However, the comparison he draws between Hamas and the Herero loses its significance if Israel is accepted as a legitimate state. Either Israel is a legitimate state or it can be likened to a colonial power as violently and immorally atrocious as the German colonisers in Africa, if the Israelis respond to Hamas attacks the same way Germans responded to Herero uprisings. It bears no resemblance whatsoever with German colonisers in Africa if Israel is legitimate.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas is causing people’s opinions to become very confused and unexpected partnerships to emerge. What motivates militant groups like Queers for Palestine, Gays for Gaza, Sexworkers supporting a free Palestine, Black Lesbians for Free Palestine, and others? They are defending a cause backed by a totalitarian Islamist group that seeks their end. They display remarkable ingenuity in employing paradoxical rhetoric amidst Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas. Behind the seeming paradox, our former colleague Karl Kraus aims to determine the underlying logic: is it masochism or the want for freedom? This is the question he must answer. But what if it is something else entirely?
|1||The text published this Wednesday in K. appeared on Monday evening on the Philosophie Magazine website, which we thank for letting us publish it in turn.>> According to sociologist Eva Illouz in her analysis of historian Didier Fassin’s work, there are two similarities between history: the Germans who colonised in the early twentieth century and their alleged similarity to twenty-first century Israelis, and the Herero revolt that led to their genocide at the hands of the Germans allegedly similar to the Hamas attack.|