General Antisemitism

Slavo Zizek muses on Jewish supremacism, poisoned wells and a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Slavoj Žižek is a Guardian commentator, philosopher and unreformed communist who has attributed the attacks of 9/11 to the “antagonisms of global capitalism”, and has argued that Hitler’s greatest sin was that he was “not radical enough” in that he didn’t “dare to disturb the basic structure of the modern capitalist social space”, adding that the Nazi dictator “was not violent enough…not ‘essential’ enough.”

He has also recently joined a growing list of Guardian and CiF columnists who have opined that the Jewish state should not exist.

Writing for British left-wing political magazine The New Statesman, in an essay titled “Israel’s best hope lies in a single state“, Žižek begins by characterizing the wish of Jews in Israel to marry within the faith as a sinister, intolerant, and irrational hatred towards “the other”, meant to maintain racial purity – a fantastical tale which mocks Israeli “Guardians of Jewish purity” and manages to conjure “vigilante-style patrols work[ing] to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls.” [emphasis mine]

In Žižek’s imaginary Middle East, Israelis (and certainly not Hamas, PFLP, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) are the only real terrorists in the region: sinister political actors who – as anyone schooled in the dark history of Jewish malevolence in the world surely would not be surprised to know – are not above literally “poisoning” [Palestinian] water” wells.

The only just and final solution, according to Žižek, to this wretched nightmare named Israel is not a two-state solution but rather, to “abolish the apartheid [state] that exists” and replace it with one majority Arab state.

Žižek’s advocacy for the political destruction of the first sovereign Jewish polity in 2000 years should not be judged too harshly as, not unlike Mya Guarnieri, he’s clearly only trying to save Jews from themselves, to save – as Guarnieri so subtly put it – “Judaism’s very soul“, and indeed closes by sagely moralizing to Zionists, these “Israeli defenders of Jewish purity”, that “they want to protect [Israel] so much that they are ready to forsake the very core of Jewish identity.”

Adam Kirsch, reviewing Žižek’s book, In Defense of Lost Causes, for The New Republic, observed that to Žižek:

“Jews are a mere abstraction, objects of fantasy and speculation, that can be forced to play any number of roles in his psychic economy.”

Thus, it’s indeed very likely that his philosophical musings on the moral failings of Jews, and the moral necessity of the Jewish state’s demise, will continue to be welcomed at the Guardian.

19 replies »

  1. The old Grauniad has gone from being a respectable newspaper to being worse than the redtops. When did the rot set in? I read it sporadically for decades. It was leftish, of course (and apparently lacked a proofreader), but otherwise it was sane–or so I thought. Now it has become a sinister joke. When did it start being so rabidly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic?

  2. That’s a good question, Sarah. Can anyone provide even a rough time frame? When did the Guardian begin to turn on Jews and Israel?

  3. Possibly after 9/11 – but could have started well before then.

    Possible time frame: sometime between the Salman Rushdie riots in 1989 and 11 September 2001.

    Of course, there are also events in the Middle East itself to consider (something which the Guardian is singularly inept at) and it could have something to do with the successive intifadas).

    Another possibility: the rise and rise of London as the capital of Hamastan … during the 90s and noughties.

    And as for Zizek … a botched reading of Lacan, raising the risible spectre of nineteenth-century Romanticism, masquerading in this instance as the Big (M)other of Judaism’s Soul … Anthony Perkins eat your heart out, Zizek has the answers … for now.

    Pure gobbledygook … but reading Zizek is painful in a sillyly enjoyable way … until he starts (w)righting about real issues where he joins the other vile, liberal-left-fascist bastards at the Guardian.

  4. The G began to turn on Israel when Israel began to lose the propaganda war.

    The G panders to its readers’ prejudices – for purely venal reasons, to sell copies – but it didn’t necessarily create them and the core resdership of the G, the well-to-do chatterati, became thoroughly anti-Israel when Israel forgot to worry about getting its messages across.

  5. Add Global Muslim Rage (GMR) to the list – which has obviously infected the staff and distaff at the Guardian.

    What better to get the goat of those peace-loving Muslims than an independent Jewish state – the very idea! Pass the rubbing salts, Matilda (or Harriet, depending on who is on duty)!

    In a rage about Muslim Rage — see the Tyrus W. Cobb – a former special assistant of Ronald Reagan writing in the Nevada Appeal:


    We must not underestimate the nature of the threat posed by “Islamo-fascism.” It represents what has correctly been labeled the “clash of civilizations.” It is a threat that will not be mollified by appeasement and tepid responses. It is a challenge that must be met by firmness, resolve, and unity, by our society as a whole, not just by a few soldiers sent to distant lands to combat the threat. This is the consummate struggle between two ways of life, two ideologies, two cultures. Are we ready?


  6. Sarah like you I used to read The Guardian back in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
    When did The Guardian accelerate downhill?
    When Alan Rusbridger became Editor, in the 90s.

  7. Sarah,

    Gerald is right.
    It also has much to do with the fall of the USSR.
    The Guardian needed to find something to attack.
    And along came the Gulf war…

  8. “Reading about that poison has made me want to vomit!”

    I wonder if you could possibly head on over to the Guardian and do it over Rusbridger.

  9. Thanks for your enlightening comments about the decline of the Guardian, everyone. The early idealists associated with it would be appalled at what it has become. The link to the piece by Tom Gross was very interesting–thanks for that, Hoi Polloi. Rusbridger seems to have performed a feat of DIY brainwashing on his trip to Israel, reversing everything he saw and finding “apartheid” where it didn’t exist. Would you trust him on any subject if he can’t even report his own experience honestly?

  10. I’ve suddenly remembered a story Alastair Cooke told once in a “Letter from America”. He had taken a trip to California and wrote a piece about it for the Manchester Guardian, as it then was. There was a photo of him fishing in the Pacific surf, but when it was printed he saw that it had been turned around, and he asked the editor why. The answer was that the original picture had shown the Pacific Ocean on the right, whereas the readers would expect to see it on the left, as that was the way it appeared on the map! Maybe there is a longer history than we think of pandering to the Guardian readers’ expectations and prejudices!

  11. I don’t know about the when, but the why of the Guardian’s turning on Israel is clearly the same as to the Left in general: The demise of the older, patriotic Social-Democrat Left at the hands of the Marxist Left, beginning in the West in the 1960s under Antonio Gramsci’s ideas of “The Long March Through The Institutions.”

  12. Remember when it was “plucky little Israel” working hard and building a country out of deserts and swamps, planting citrus groves where there had been nothing before and having to defend itself against barbaric neighbours? I think at one time the Guardian would have agreed. As for me, I have stayed in that mode.

  13. The problem is that “plucky little Israel” has defied the expert opinion of the british elites, and survived rather than failed as the elites smugly expected.

    THAT the Israelis prevail over its enemies surrounding it and those on the european continent, that is too much to bear.

    I am glad that europe, which has a long history of Jew hatred, is now being overrun by the other Semites, the ones who bomb London buses and the undground, create Muslim only areas in the UK, riot over cartoons.

  14. As a great fan and reader of Zizek I see this article as about as biased, ignorant, and destructive as the attack on NPR by James O’ keefe. (I imagine most of the posters here are by folks who have not read his work.) zizek is a trickster in the best sense fo the word and the quotes cited are defintely out of context ala James O. The state of Israel is a Jewish state. Just as saudi arabia is an oppressive Islamic state. To pretend that this does not conflict with modern secular values around equality and liberty is absurd. Rabin was killed by the right wing. Zizek would undoubtedly characterize elements of hamas as rascist. Unfortunately this doesn’t break down into a neat binary argument. Jews have undoubtedly been the object of the projections of others and Zizek examines this in a thoughtful manner. To denigrate him for polemical purposesis to miss out on a brilliant intelect. To see Jews set up ghettos for Palestiians, for whatever reason, is both ironic and tragic. The abused have become the abuser. and like all abusers, feels like the eternal victim under constant threat. Peace process? Promises… promises.

  15. joshua is the only commenter on this thread so far who understands Zizek’s work. He is inherently anti-Israel nor remotely anti-Semitic. He is anti-fundamentalist and if you read, for example, his book Violence, his most damning condemnations are of fundamentalist Islamic groups. The comments about Hitler are meant in a descriptive sense, in reference to how the proletarian resentment of the capitalist system was mis-manifested in anti-Semitism and he certainly would not have referred to that mistake as “Hitler’s greatest sin.” As a Jewish person I am severely disapointed when people are unreasonably inflamed by rational, level-headed criticism of the actions taken by an increasingly right-wing, radical Israeli government. Please take a moment to calm yourselves and respond to ideas you find objectionable with clearly articulated argument rather than distortions and rhetoric.

    • he is, he is not, ..

      strange that zizek`s followers cannot bring sentences which show a friendly attitide towards israel, zionists or even jews
      they just interprete, very bravly, what their master could have meant