Anthropology cover girl
I am looking forward to reading Alfons’s posts; meanwhile, a PhD student at VU’s anthropology department, Erella Grassiani, has made it to the cover of the student newspaper, Advalvas. I am not clear yet whether this paper is really edited by students, but at least it does discuss political controversies. In this instance, it is about Erella’s activism in opposing Israel’s intervention in Gaza. Erella, herself an Israeli, recently completed her dissertation about Israeli soldiers who serve in the occupied territories, and recently was instrumental in setting up a group of Israelis in the Netherlands critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza. The cover story, entitled “”Erella Grassiani may not criticize”, is about the reaction of Dutch Jewish groups, which have rejected her initiative, even as they support “dialogues” with Arab intellectuals who are similarly critical of Israel’s policies. Erella’s position is quite mainstream within Dutch academia (or dare I say it, “among Dutch intellectuals”), and her conflict with Dutch Jewish organisations may well be due in part to the challenge this poses to the latter in their role as spokespeople for the Jews vis-a-vis the Dutch government. Yet what makes it a more complex issue is that (as I speculated in an earlier post) anti-semitism may be rising in Europe, and though the synergies between the current popularity of anti-Israeli political positions and antisemitic conspiracy theories should not be overstated, they cannot be ignored either.
In Hungary, the front lines are drawn in a strikingly different way. Leftish/liberal Hungarian press has been full of condemnations of a prominent leftist intellectual, Tamás Gáspár Miklós, who had condemned fellow intellectuals for their cowardice in not protesting against Israel’s invasion, and stated that this had nothing to do with one’s opinion of Hamas. Although among my colleagues here and probably in Australia this position would probably be quite mainstream, the responses, ranging from conservative-liberal philosopher Agnes Heller to committedly left-wing sociologist Vásárhelyi Mária, were furious. They insisted that it was not possible to ignore the context of Hamas, and indeed some of them bid TGM farewell, saying he had parted ways with them. By contrast, the Hungarian nationalist press, which often publishes antisemitic articles, cheered TGM, although he is one of its most implacable and vitriolic opponents.