The Jewish Museum in New York has reportedly invited a controversial critic of Israel to speak at a conference on the work of Franz Kafka in March.
Judith Butler, a University of California professor who is a lightning rod because of her harsh criticism of the Jewish state, was invited because “politics were not a factor” in determining speakers for the March 6 event, entitled “Wish You Were Here: Franz Kafka,” according to the Algemeiner.
Butler is a professor of comparative literature and critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley and also holds positions at Columbia University and the European Graduate School. She is outspoken on numerous political issues and widely-read among supporters of the gay and lesbian rights movement.
Past institutions that have hosted Butler have also sparked controversy. Last year, pro-Israel groups at Brooklyn College fought to block an event featuring Butler that was co-sponsored by the school’s political science department, arguing that holding the event would amount to a tacit endorsement of BDS. The event went as planned, bringing out about 200 attendees, according to Haaretz.
In a statement published by Algemeiner, a museum spokesperson said that hosting dialogue between individuals of diverging viewpoints on art and Jewish culture is central to the museum’s programming. It added: “Judith Butler is a noted scholar and author who has lectured and written extensively on Franz Kafka. Her politics were not a factor in her participation. Program speakers are chosen on the basis of their expertise in the subject to be discussed not their personal political views.”
The Kafka event with Butler will also feature Jens Hoffman, deputy director of the museum.