16 December 2007

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections

This post is a tribute to an exceptional work, the title of which I have stolen for the post headline. It is written by an exceptional person, who is humbly describing himself in the following words:

David Hirsh is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been centrally involved in the anti-boycott campaign within the British academic trade unions and he is the founding editor of the Engage website (www.EngageOnline.org.uk), an anti-boycott campaign and an antiracist campaign against antisemitism. This positioning facilitates participant observation and action research by a key actor in these debates.
What can I say about this work? When we, the bloggers, get into a fight with some other bloggers or some authors whose work we despise, we can be voluble, we can be insulting, we can even be right - but it hardly moves the other side. When a person of David Hirsh's caliber and intellect gets into the fray, it is not for a cheap retort of for a derisive comment or two. Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections is a seminal work that will be much quoted, studied and, of course, much criticized by a certain segment of scientific (oh well...) community.

We can only applaud from the sidelines and give this work a bit of a hand here and there.

A word of caution, though, re the term Cosmopolitan. If the intended meaning is as in dictionary: "A sophisticated person who has travelled in many countries", it's fine and dandy. Unfortunately, this word in its Russian version of "космополит" ("kosmopolit") had quite a different meaning during some very difficult times: a person without a nation, without roots and without loyalty. Of course, the person usually (but not always) happened to be a Jew. If the tyrant hadn't croaked in 1953, a repeat of the Holocaust in its less organized Soviet version would have been close...

But it is surely immaterial now, right? So just go and read this work, it is worth all of your time!

Update: for the impatient - to hear more about the work, listen to this interview with David Hirsh.