Humor, Objects, Anti-Semitism (BDS & More Steven Salaita)


An old bit from the department of BDS and anti-Zionism, as it reflects on questions riling everyone up about BDS-anti-Zionism, Jews, anti-Semitism, and the left. It’s an old piece, but it explains a lot.

Yes, the Dictator was and remains dumb and offensive, and yes, a racist movie. But the key to this rant by Steven Salaita, which you can read here,  is how Salaita posed the question, “What is Baron Cohen?” The “descriptors” include “potty-mouthed prankster,” and then move on to include “a religious zealot, a white male,” a “Zionist,” and finally, at the end, “an apparatchik of Hollywood.”

Not a who, but a what is Baron Cohen. The very form of the question indicates the way movement-BDS leaders like Salaita “dehumanize” “the enemy.” The actor is not a subject or a person, but reduced to a “what” or an “object.” No one should be surprised when this kind of potty mouth slips next to and into overt anti-Semitism. It’s embedded in the basic grammar of BDS.

Caricature plies on top of caricature. If Salaita and the like are unaware of these mechanisms, and maybe, in good faith they are, then they are simply unaware as to language. If that’s the case, then more is the trouble. At any rate, It’s no longer clear who’s is the fool and who is playing one.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Humor, Objects, Anti-Semitism (BDS & More Steven Salaita)

  1. Reblogged this on The Home of Schlemiel Theory and commented:
    What’s wrong with Sasha Baron Cohen?!

Leave a Reply