Israeli envoy slams ‘anti-Israel’ US academic award

Ambassador to Germany says he is "disappointed" by award granted to academic who had called for a boycott of Israel.

September 12, 2012 02:36
2 minute read.

YAKOV HADAS-HANDELSMAN 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Israeli Embassy in Germany))


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BERLIN – Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman ratcheted up on Monday Jerusalem’s criticism of the city of Frankfurt for its decision to grant an award to a US academic who has called for a boycott of the Jewish state.

The Theodor Adorno Prize and its cash grant of 50,000 euros was given on Tuesday to Judith Butler, a gender studies theorist at the University of California at Berkeley.

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In an emailed statement to The Jerusalem Post, Handelsman wrote that he was “disappointed” by Frankfurt’s decision to recognize the American academic.

“In the center of her agenda it states that Israelis should be boycotted because they are Israelis,” he noted, adding that “it is disconcerting that a prize that memorializes the victims of the German Nazi boycotts will be presented to someone who sees a boycott as a legitimate method.”

The award, which is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of philosophy, theater, music and film, is named for sociologist and philosopher Theodor Adorno. Adorno, a critic of the Nazis and son of a Jewish man, lived in exile during World War II.

The envoy said that Butler had put herself “in the front line of those who advocate a boycott of Israel.”

Speaking to the Post on Monday from New York, Phyllis Chesler, an emeritus professor of psychology and women’s studies at City University of New York, accused the Germans of “hiding behind Butler,” saying that “by valorizing her anti-Israel views they justify and elevate their own anti- Israel views.”

Jewish organizations and pro- Israel leftist groups demonstrated on Tuesday at the location of the award ceremony, St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt am Main.

Butler triggered worldwide criticism in 2006 by saying, “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”

Speaking from the rally on Tuesday against the decision to award Butler the prize, Sacha Stawski, the head of the pro-Israel media watchdog group Honestly Concerned, told the Post via phone that 150-200 people were at the demonstration. He said “a mix of Jews and non-Jews and the pro-Zionist left group” turned out under the motto “No honor for hatred of Israel.” He also said a rabbi from Frankfurt will address the group.

Stawski was also scheduled to speak and to announce that his group no longer plans to use Frankfurt for pro-Israel events because of the city’s honoring of Butler, who, he says, supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

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