Friend of JPP Shaul Magid has a knack for infuriating people. At it again, his course at Indiana University on Jewish Critics of Zionism was too much for commentator Edward Alexander. Shaul’s syllabus includes the usual suspects including, inter alia, Kaufmann Kohler, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Jacqueline Rose, Peter Beinart, and Judith Butler. The reasoned criticism that Alexander indeed directs at the more radical critics of Zionism may or may not hold this or that much water. But all this gets inundated by apocalyptic fury in the febrile attack on an academic colleague and academic discourse.
With genocide on his mind, the author’s animus at fever pitch is the kind of Golem that can only enflame and engulf the object of its own affection, namely Zionism and the State of Israel. In the popular Jewish imagination, Political Zionism and Cultural Zionism, Socialist Zionism and Revisionist Zionism have been replaced long ago by Affect Zionism, a diseased ideological formation with which one should have nothing to do, and which, in this case, deserves no attention, at least not at this site, except for the implicit threat it presents to a colleague. A university is a place where one reads books, ideas, and authors instead of burning them.