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Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism and the Critique of Israel: Towards a Constructive Debate

29.06.2022 to 30.06.2022 Add to calendar

International conference, June 29-30, 2022

Is a detached sociological view of antisemitism possible, or even desirable? Any attempt to answer the question needs to clarify the concept or definition of antisemitism, be it only in terms of a heuristic working definition. Can we debate this issue beyond political self-positioning and external attributions? This international conference wants to discuss these questions.
From a political point of view, antisemites are always “the others”, and the accusation of antisemitism often serves as a political and ideological lightning rod. So how do we understand antisemitism if we do not want to constantly sound all our alarm bells (however justified alertedness may be in many circumstances), nor naively believe that hatred of Jews is decreasing and all fears are exaggerated?

The conference also wants to reflect on how the foundation of the State of Israel as a manifestation of Jewish political sovereignty and its place in world politics have deeply affected the evolution of antisemitism. There can be no doubt that this state’s mere existence, its definition as a Jewish state and its ideological foundation in Zionism do not make it any easier for us to think about antisemitism. Why is there so much criticism of Israel? Is this criticism justified? Can we assume that anti-Zionism is antisemitic under all circumstances?

The working definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance very clearly links criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. An alternative stand has recently been taken by the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.

This conference will bring all three discussions (on antisemitism, on criticism against Zionism and against the State of Israel) together by combining the socio-political debate on antisemitism with the analytical and definitional controversies. Doing so, we strive for both academic clarity and sensitivity to localized political contexts, as there can be no doubt that more recent societal developments, such as new configurations of national societies due to migration, multiculturalism, and a global health crisis that has fueled conspiracy theories have added considerable complexity to the problems at issue.

Organised by: 
Sigi Feigel Visiting Professorship for Jewish Studies and Department of Religious Studies, University of Zurich (Prof. Dr. Christoph Uehlinger, Dr. des. Sarah Werren)


University of Zurich
Rämistrasse 59


Sarah Werren

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