The Independent ‘fixes’ Slavoj Zizek’s anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism op-ed, refuses to print his clarification
Outcry over a bad faith reading of Zizek’s op-ed on the conflation of criticizing Israeli policies with anti-Semitism led the Independent to change a controversial part of the text. It wouldn’t publish his explanation, though.
Writing about Israeli-Palestinian politics is like navigating a publicity minefield. Take a wrong step, and you may get attacked as either a rabid anti-Semite secretly wishing for a new Holocaust, or an apologist for a fascist Zionist apartheid regime, depending on who you’ve rubbed the wrong way. A piece by philosopher Slavoj Zizek, which goes into this conundrum, tripped the former wire.
Published last week by British newspaper the Independent, the op-ed challenged both forms of bad faith criticism to argue that there is no conflict between fighting anti-Semitism and fighting against Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the building of settlements. “The two struggles are part of one and the same struggle for emancipation,” he wrote.
Zizek also lashed out at Zionists who hijack anti-Semitic tropes – like the historical perception of Jews as inherently suspicious for not having a land of their own – to subvert them for the Zionist cause.
“Antisemitism reproaches the Jews for being rootless; Zionism tries to correct this failure by belatedly providing Jews with roots,” he wrote. “However, the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.”
That “trouble with Jews” part, taken out of context, caused quite an outcry. Two days later, the Independent changed it into “the trouble with the settlement project,” saying the original didn’t meet their editorial standards.
Zizek says he wanted to set the record straight and have a follow-up printed in the Independent to make it absolutely clear that the “Jews” he was referring to were those choosing the “path of rooting” at the expense of Palestinians. The newspaper refused, citing the election coverage crunch and how it would be a “tricky space” to enter, he told RT. It wouldn’t even have his response posted in the readers’ comments section (which is mostly filled with “brutal attacks” on him, he says).
RT has published Zizek’s response to the controversy. You can read it here.
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