Zionists Need Embrace Critical Theory

There are three historical phases to Anti-Semitism in the broader sense of the term, these are Anti-Judaism (Roman, Christian and Muslim), Anti-Semitism (in the narrow racializing sense of the word) and Anti-Zionism, the most prominent form of Anti-Jewish prejudice today. Critical theory is an excellent tool for exposing the bigoted nature of Anti-Zionism as a form of structural oppression and structural discrimination against Jews in discourse. It is not just that Anti-Judaism reinvented itself as Anti-Semitism which in turn reinvented itself as Anti-Zionism; Anti-Jewish bigotry mutated twice, first in the 19th century and second in the 20th century. While Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism (in the narrow racializing sense) have been well studied by science, Anti-Zionism which is a far lager complex of discourses, has not been studied in the detail required, something which necessitates careful deconstruction. What is necessary is a Zionist reintervention of critical theory, nothing short of a Jewish reappropriation of this originally Jewish academic field.

BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) has mainly had an impact on universities and colleges and this is almost entirely due to the insidious influence of Anti-Semitism through critical theory. Academic lecturers read Anti-Semitic postcolonial theory and Anti-Semitic works of postcolonial critical theory such as Edward Said’s “Orientalism” are required reading in many academic courses. This poisons the academically educated young generation and future social elites who become negatively predisposed against the indigenous Jewish nation in Israel in thus undermining the indigenous Jewish state’s future relations with other sovereign nations. Zionists have indeed made a major error in leaving the field of critical theory to the Anti-Semites despite critical theory originally being a Jewish academic field.

Critical theory is in fact an excellent tool for exposing the structures of discursive bigotry of enemy propaganda, including by many critical theorists, particularly in postcolonial theory. Enemy propaganda is founded on several foundational myths. The Anti-Semitic apartheid libel is based on (1) the Nazi notion of the Jewish nation constituting a single racial group. Critical theory is largely founded on taking the side of the oppressed against the oppressors (what Nietzsche referred to as slave morality) and Anti-Semitism in critical theory is therefore based upon (2) the Nazi notion that Jews are oppressors. It is often claimed that Israeli attempts to protect its citizens against the enemy genocidal agenda, including genocidally Anti-Semitic terrorism, constitutes oppression in (3) denying that Jews are the ones who are structurally oppressed in discourse and not the Palestinians who are not structurally oppressed in discourse and who simply suffer the consequences of needless armed conflict which they themselves uncritically initiate and spearhead without regard for the consequences. There are thousands of specific structural expressions of discrimination against Jews and the Jewish state in circulation in contemporary Anti-Jewish discourse (Anti-Jewish discursive discrimination), but the above are the most foundational ones which most urgently need to be addressed in beginning the Zionist reappropriation of critical theory.

What is critical theory? This is a wider academic field which is engaged in studying structures in discourse. This is ideal for exposing the structural Anti-Jewish bias of many discourses, including in critical theory itself as critical theory is very much about critiquing previous generations of critical theorists. Academia has become the new center of Anti-Semitism and it is about time that Zionists no longer take it on the chin and do some thing about it.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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