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On State Racism and Philosemitism by Houria Boutledja

Decolonial activist and intellectual, Houria Bouteldja
Decolonial activist and intellectual, Houria Bouteldja

This is one of the singularly most important pieces I have read about racism in recent times. I will shortly post a longer commentary. However, suffice it to say that Houria Boutledja of Les Indigenes de la Republique, in this intervention made recently in Oslo, blows apart the idea that it is possible to be equally opposed to both Islamophobia/racism and antisemitism. She explains that racism is structural and emanates from the imperial nation-state. Jews today in France (and we could say the West in general) do not face institutionalised state racism. What they do experience is the state’s ‘philosemitism’ which engages Jews against their will to the state’s demonisation of racialised people as the source of social disunity in general and antisemitism in particular.

As a Jew then, it is up to me to oppose state racism in all its forms while being vigilant to the ways in which Jews are being manipulated in the service of the nation-state in its more generally western and explicitly Zionist forms.

At a later date, I will post some thoughts about Bouteldja’s critique of the widespread use of the amalgam of ‘Judeo-Christian’ which serves, in my opinion, to flatten and dismiss historical state antisemitism and to forcefully assimilate Jews into a national/western project which, as she points out, has always been a White, Christian one. I will also make some comments in Bouteldja’s identification of the philosemitism of the white left which I agree with and, as I think she is pointing out, I personally experience as antisemitism.

Read Houria Bouteldja’s talk in English or in French.

Alana Lentin