AFTERWORD TO THE POSTSCRIPT TO “TEXTE ZUR KUNST”’s ANTI-ANTI-SEMITISM ISSUE
We were aware that the “Anti-Anti-Semitism” issue would be met with debate. But the intensity of the wave of anger we faced after publication of the issue surprised and at points even unsettled us.
Given the tense atmosphere in recent weeks, we regret that some contributors to the issue feel personally defamed as a result of attacks on the issue as a whole. We are all the more thankful to the authors of the Postscript for their substantiative critique; we are extraordinarily appreciative that they took up our invitation to critically reflect on the issue. Like Micha Brumlik, we do not feel that postcolonial critique and critique of anti-Semitism must be played off against each other or entered into rivalry. And with regard to Michael Rothberg’s much-quoted contributions to the debate, we similarly appreciate that they deploy historical comparison – in the most recent case comparing the Historikerstreit (historians’ dispute) of 1980s West Germany and the recent Mbembe debate – to identify and elaborate similarities and differences between the two.  However, Rothberg does on occasion allow a comparable instance of playing-off-against-each-other, for example, in his argument that all criticism of Mbembe in Germany has been focused on denying or actively suppressing responsibility for Germany’s colonial crimes.
One way of escaping the animosity between postcolonial theory and anti-Semitism research is highlighted in Marc Rölli’s statement, in which he examines more closely the concept of the Other. As a philosopher, he identifies a tension fixed around the varying concepts of the Other as found in European critical traditions and in theories critiquing colonialism. Given the present polarization between decolonial and anti-anti-Semitism critique, his attempt to leave behind an identitarian-conceived Other in favor of a pluralistic understanding of society strikes us as an especially promising path forward.
We find Christoph Menke’s critique – that it remains unclear what exactly the target of the first “Anti” in the issue’s title “Anti-Anti-Semitism” is – to be instructive. His suggestion to analyze the structures of anti-Semitism rather than seek traces of it among individual protagonists is one we feel to be especially productive, with a formation such as BDS being a structure that, in our opinion, can and should be thus examined. With her typology and thoughts on boycotts and censorship, Elke Krasny takes a critical look at the boycott as a form of protest. We particularly endorse her suggestion of turning toward forms of conflict that leave behind the violent logic of boycotts. For we too would like to remain in dialog with the September issue’s most adamant detractors, as they help to make its (and others’) problems, contradictions, and blind spots perceptible.
It should here, for the record, be noted that both for the “Anti-Anti-Semitism” issue and for the postscript statements, many of the authors invited did not agree with the premise of the issue – including a number who later asserted that no critical voices were permitted. Unfortunately, these and other authors whose critiques we wished to publish within this framework declined our offer. This is something we of course respect, but we would have preferred the political disagreement to play out in a less personal way.
The refusal of those who declined to contribute while citing structural exclusion is something we will take as an incentive to focus even more firmly on the need to open up the journal to heterogenous and contentious perspectives. For the future of the journal, and as has been the case within issues current and past, we also see it as our responsibility to recognize, deepen, and expand political, theoretical, and art-historical approaches, both within trauma research and Erinnerungskultur [remembrance culture] and within postcolonial studies.
Translation: Matthew James Scown
|||See Michael Rothberg, “Vergleiche vergleichen: Vom Historikerstreit zur Causa Mbembe,” Geschichte der Gegenwart, September 23, 2020, https://geschichtedergegenwart.ch/vergleiche-vergleichen-vom-historikerstreit-zur-causa-mbembe/.|