Judith Butler, a noted literary theorist who is the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Visiting Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, has called off a talk she was supposed to give at the Jewish Museum in New York City, amid criticism of her support for the boycott of Israel.
InsideHigherEd reports that “Butler’s talk was not to have been about her views on the Middle East, but on Franz Kafka, who died well before the State of Israel was created. A statement from the museum said: “She was chosen on the basis of her expertise on the subject matter to be discussed. While her political views were not a factor in her participation, the debates about her politics have become a distraction making it impossible to present the conversation about Kafka as intended.”
“In an email to Inside Higher Ed, Butler said: “I did decide to withdraw when it became clear to me that the uproar over my political views (actually, a serious distortion of my political views) would overtake the days ahead and the event itself. As I understand it, the Jewish Museum also felt that it could not handle the political storm, and we were in complete agreement that the event should be canceled as a result.”
“She continued: “What is most important now, in my view, is for both educational and cultural institutions such as these to recommit themselves to open debate, not to become vehicles for censorship and slander, and not to become party to forms of blacklisting. It certainly should not be the case that any of us are forced to give up speaking in public on scholarly topics that have no bearing on the political issues that are so controversial. It constitutes discrimination against a person on the basis of political viewpoint, implying that the speaker ought not to be allowed to speak on any topic given the political viewpoint in question. It is one thing to disagree, say, with my political viewpoint and to give reasons why one disagrees, even to call for an open debate on that disagreement, and to ask the Jewish Museum to exercise its authority and commit its resources to such an open debate. It is quite another to say that anyone with my political viewpoint (itself badly distorted in this case) should not be able to speak at a Jewish cultural organization…. Continue reading “Butler withdraws from talk at the Jewish Museum”
A new law being proposed in Israel’s Knesset seeks to get rid of the gender category on the country’s identity cards, reports the Jewish Telegraph Agency. “Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz Party introduced the bill this past Monday, at the start of international LGBTQ month. Zandberg explained, “There is a minority that experiences an incongruity between gender and biological sex, and those who want to change their sex in the registry but experience difficulty with Interior Ministry bureaucrats, the Health Ministry and the establishment.”
“Zandberg cited as precedent Israel’s removal of the nationality category from identification cards. Before 2005, ID cards included a category with the Hebrew word l’ohm, which is translated as nationality, but was more about ethnicity, not citizenship. The most common ethnicities were Jewish, Arab, Druze, Circassian. While it seems like something of a technical issue, there have been legal dust-ups over the categories. In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that a Reform convert qualified to have Jewish on their identity card, despite the fact that the chief rabbinate does not recognize Reform conversions. The Sephardic Orthodox Shas party subsequently backed the removal of the whole category.
“Still, there is little international precedent for removing the category of gender, though that seems to be changing. Nepal, Australia and New Zealand currently have options for gender-neutral documentation, while two British lawmakers joined a petition asking the government to allow for gender-neutral IDs. In the United States, San Francisco eliminated gender from city-issued IDs; a similar measure is slated to be enacted in late 2013 in Los Angeles.”
Read more: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/04/news-opinion/the-telegraph/doing-away-with-gender#ixzz2VJnazpZ0
In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. Today’s issue of Le Monde carries a story on nuclear conflict in the Middle East. “They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.
“This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.
“Iranian cities — owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities — are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, “Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,” published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region. Continue reading “The Middle East nuclear option”
When sporadic rocket-attack alarms blared in his Isreali neighborhood in recent months, Lucky would often freeze in confusion as the human residents of his Moshav Gea home ran to their safe room. But during the past week, in which rocket fire and alarms have become routine for the southern community, the large golden dog jets to the shelter automatically. “He follows us to the shelter, he knows,” Kineret Rozen-Edelman, a teacher at Sha’ar Hanegev Regional High School and Gea resident, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “He gets up with us and runs to the shelter.”
Rozen-Edelman was speaking with the Post on Monday morning at around 11 a.m., and she was happy to have had a night of relative quiet from 1:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Since rescuing the one-and-a-half-year-old Lucky from an Ashkelon shelter about a year ago, Rozen-Edelman and her husband have been training the dog to grow accustomed to using the shelter when necessary. Continue reading “Israeli pets are worried about rocket attacks”
Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarized nations, according to the latest Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC). This information is detailed a story in today’s Asia Times entitled “Israel ranked as most militarized,” with brief excerpts below:
“Singapore ranks second, followed by Syria, Russia, Jordan, and Cyprus, according to the Index, which is based on a number of weighted variables, such as the comparison of a country’s military
“Israel’s main regional rival, Iran is far behind at number 34.
Six of the top 10 states, including Israel (1), Syria (4), Jordan (5), Kuwait (7), Bahrain (9), and Saudi Arabia (10) are located in the Middle East, while yet another of Iran’s neighbors, Azerbaijan, made its first entry into the militarized elite at number 8.”