The massacre and hostage taking carried out by Hamas on the 7th October 2023 has provoked different reactions. Some on the left have supported Hamas’s actions and others have refused to criticise them. At the same time, recorded antisemitic incidents have soared in the UK, as they have in other countries. Jews have mobilised in unprecedented numbers in protest. In this seminar, Camila Bassi and Yair Wallach examine responses to anti-Jewish violence.
Camila Bassi, ‘Decolonisation is not a metaphor’ in the wake of the 7th October
Tuck and Yang’s seminal paper, ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, published in 2012, has not only shaped postcolonial/ decolonial academic research but has also become a rallying point for those celebrating the 7th October atrocities by Hamas. In this presentation, Camila Bassi argues that post-7th October ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’ expresses a total war against the harmful Jewish Other which foregrounds Israeli and Zionist Jews as the living and leading symbols of the evils and harms of settler colonialism.
Yair Wallach, How to understand anti-Jewish violence? Rethinking moments of Zionist/anti-Zionist controversy from 1891 to 2023
Since the 7th October, numerous attacks on Jewish institutions have been recorded. For many, this confirms the inherently antisemitic nature of pro-Palestine solidarity. At the same time, left wing diaspora Jews have voiced sharpening critiques of Israel’s mass killing of civilians in Gaza as a danger for the Jewish future worldwide. In this talk, Yair Wallach considers the inextricable relationship between diaspora Jews and Israel/Zionism, the changing historical nature of this relationship and the manner in which antisemitism is understood by Zionists and anti-Zionists in this regard.
Camila Bassi is a senior lecturer in Human Geography at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research interests are in the geographies of ‘race’, ethnicity and sexuality, and Marxist geographies. She has published academic critiques of the revolutionary left vanguard of England’s anti-war movement and of the historical U-turns in the Marxist politics of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Her book, Outcast: How Jews Were Banished from the Anti-Racist Imagination (No Pasaran Media, 2023), was awarded the best book on contemporary antisemitism 2023 by the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.
Yair Wallach is a Reader in Israeli Studies at SOAS, University of London, where he is also the head of the SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies. He is a social and cultural historian of modern Palestine/Israel, studying Jews and Palestinians in a relational manner. He has written on Israel/Palestine and on antisemitism for The Guardian, Haaretz, and other publications. His current research explores Ashkenazi integration and acculturation in the Arab Levant.