Slavoj Žižek: Hamas massacre must be condemned, no ifs or buts

todayNovember 4, 2023 4

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Slavoj Žižek, a Slovakian philosopher, cultural critic, and self-described “moderately conservative communist”, affirmed Israel’s right to destroy Hamas in Gaza, and further spoke on the subsequent rise in antisemitism in an interview given to the YouTube channel PoliticsJOE published on Friday.

Žižek has been a permanent fixture of leftist philosophy and thinking for many decades stretching all the way back to his time as a Communist Party member in Slovenia when he quit the party in protest of the Trial against the Four, which was the start of the Slovenian Spring and led to the eventual collapse of Yugoslavia.

He has often taken a very critical stance against Israeli policy, particularly in the West Bank and this has led to accusations of antisemitism. He references at the beginning of his interview that he gave a speech in Frankfurt that condemned terrorism and affirmed Israel’s right to destroy Hamas but also criticized Israeli policy in the West Bank for contributing to the event.

Thus, he started an op-ed piece for Project Syndicate, an online opinion site that hosts a variety of commentators, by writing that “the barbarism that Hamas has unleashed on Israel should be condemned unconditionally, with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts.’ The massacres, rapes, and abductions of civilians from villages, kibbutzim, and a music festival was a pogrom, confirming that Hamas’s true goal is to destroy the state of Israel and all Israelis.”

He expressed his horror during the interview with PoliticsJOE at how Hamas deliberately attacked communities of people who had been pushing for peace with those in Gaza and had worked to make that a reality, “by hiring them and helping them [to go to hospitals in Israel]”. 

Israeli soldiers inspect the burnt cars of festival-goers at the site of an attack on the Nova Festival by Hamas gunmen from Gaza, near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 13, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

They attacked there “not only because it was most practical,” he said, “Because the real aim of this attack was to eternalize war, to prevent any possibility of peace for decades.” 


He attacked both Hamas as well as Netanyahu and his government, specifically National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, for producing radical programs that call for exclusive control of the region by one ethnic group, Arabs and Jews respectively. 

Žižek sees the main goal as not to fall for radicalism and to recognize that “The key point here is not to fall into this trap of Palestinian versus Israeli, but that those who are now playing opposite roles are really playing a very similar game.” 

“Hamas and Israeli hardliners are two sides of the same coin,” he writes in his op-ed. “The choice is not one hardline faction or the other; it is between fundamentalists and all those who still believe in the possibility of peaceful co-existence.”

“We can and should unconditionally support Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks,” he writes. “We also must unconditionally sympathize with the truly desperate and hopeless conditions faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied territories.”

“Those who think there is a ‘contradiction’ in this position are the ones who are effectively blocking a solution.”

He sees Hamas’s suicidal attacks on Israel as “eternalizing war” and due to this he sees no room for a peaceful Mandela-like figure to arise and bring peace and this horrifies him.

Growing global antisemitism

However, Žižek’s greatest concern is that this conflict will transform antisemitism from in his view a “mostly European, a little bit Middle Eastern, but mostly European American phenomenon,” to “become a worldwide movement in a totally disgusting way it [antisemitism] will be a new link in this series of what I call unholy alliances.” 

He worries that being antisemitic will come to be identified with “being for the third-world suffering nations.” 

Referencing how Uganda made a new anti-homosexuality law which could mean death if the person is caught in the act, he asks the interviewer if they know how it was justified, “a struggle against colonialism.” He highlights that he is “so afraid that antisemitism will be included into this series”.

“I think this was the idea of Hamas,” he continues Hamas “may lose [in Gaza], but it will give birth to such a new wave of antisemitism and not only in the Arab world.”

“As a friend of Jews and Palestinians,” he continued “I see it, really it scares me, a new wave of antisemitism [arising].”

Žižek believes that Putin wants to equate Israel with Ukraine, which Putin describes as a colonialist Western nation, so as to bring less-developed countries for whom anticolonialism can be identified with the West to his side.

“Again what horrifies me is this identification of antisemitism, as a result of this war, will be elevated into one of the main markers of anti-colonial struggle.”

“Now is the moment for Israel. Annihilate Hamas, but at the same time reach out to Palestinians giving them some clear program of hope.”

Antisemitic Zionists

He also attacked individuals such as Donald Trump, whom he calls antisemitic Zionists because they will support antisemitic movements at home, such as the Proud Boys, while simultaneously supporting Israel as a way to get Jews out of their country.

Leading to this statement “I don’t like this most disgusting Western position that of not too many Jews here [in the West], but you go there [to Israel] and protect our civilization.”

“No, I like Jews here! Wherever they are they make a great contribution to our civilization.”

“We cannot even imagine European modernity, enlightenment, and so on without the Jews. The very idea of enlightenment universalism came from the Jews.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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