Featuring Dr. Corinne E. Blackmer, Professor of English and Judaic Studies, Southern Connecticut State University, United States
Although antisemites have made effective use of intersectionality theory to appropriate progressive social movements, this course will explore, in addition to intersectionality, other significant rhetorical weapons they employ—including sloganeering, intimidation, name-calling, simplifications, assemblages theory, and pseudo-intellectual obscurantist prose. This course will canvass these strategies, propose methods for countering them, and consider how antisemites have made successive waves of social movements (i.e., disability, women’s, LGBTQ) antisemitic through appropriation and corralling in Israel into areas of study and advocacy with which it, as a nation, has little in common.
Part I: Introduction: Hijacking Israel
Israel, a thriving, vibrant, high-tech democratic nation in a region surrounded by autocracies, failed states with endemic violence, and havens for terrorism, has a strong if, of course, the humanly imperfect record of legislative, cultural, and policy-oriented protections for women, LGBTQ and disabled people, Jews of color, and various racial and ethnic minorities. In a reasonable and even rationally self-interested world, such characteristics would make Israel the natural ally of those across the world looking to improve their structures of government, as well as the status of women and other recognized minorities. However, because of the fashion in which the conflict with Palestinians has played out in antisemitic contemporary leftwing and, increasingly, mainstream circles, Israel has been jettisoned from the circle of reputable nations. This introduction will examine some of the means Israel might be reclaimed from antisemites.
Part 2: Sarah Schulman and Angela Davis: The “Queer International” and the“Intersection of Movements”
A one-dimensional simplicity that borders on the childish characterizes the prose and mental processes of Schulman and Davis. In her salmagundi-like travel memoir, Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, Schulman distorts, dissimulates, and simplifies to press home her anti-Israel agenda, while Davis, in Israel/Ferguson and the Foundation of a Movement, substitutes Kimberle Crenshaw’s intersectionality for an intersection of movements that assumes that all “liberation” movements across the world are unproblematically the same. An effective means of calling out antisemites like Schulman and Davis is to reveal the contradictions and consequences of their intersections, as when, for instance, Davis avows her solidarity with Hamas, a terrorist organization that engages in African organ trafficking in the Sinai to fund its jihad against Jews.
Part 3: Jasbir Puar and Dean Spade: Anti-Israel Hate as Intellectual Fashion
Puar and Spade, sporting extreme antisemitism both as affectation and postmodern intellectual fashion, use two diametrically opposed strategies to engage in their favorite pastime of Israel-bashing. Puar combines obscurantist prose with a practice of so-called “assemblages,” which enables her to relate anything she desires to something else without providing cause and effect, other than to advance her general argument that Israel is a demonic nation. Spade, for his part, engages in extreme simplification and legibility as he uses various antisemitic guerrilla tactics, including everything from disrupting conferences to repeating egregious lies in public spaces.
Part 4: Judith Butler and the Audience for Anti-Zionist Theoretical Fantasy Fictions
In Parting Ways, her book-length series of essays, Butler does everything from compiling an ersatz anti-Zionist Jewish tradition to accuse Israel of abusing the memory of the Holocaust, to forward her central argument that Israel, because it purportedly committed the Original Sin of settler colonialism, must unwind the Zionist spool of history, and embrace a one-state solution. Widely critiqued on the basis that this fantasy solution would lead to endemic violence and the breakdown of civil society, Butler can be even more effectively challenged according to how she treats Israeli-Jews, who would be most directly impacted by her theoretical fantasies should they come to pass. While literally relegated to the footnotes, two Israeli Jewish diasporic critics’ works lie at the heart of her project, whose theoretical fictions are not directed at Israelis but rather at privileged audiences of Western academics.
Live sessions will occur on the following dates and times:
Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 – 1:00pm EST
Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 – 1:00pm EST
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 – 1:00pm EST
Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 – 1:00pm EST
Recordings will be made available to registered participants who are not able to attend live sessions.
Limited student scholarships available upon request: [email protected]