Theorist Judith Butler cancels N.Y. Jewish Museum talk over Israel controversy

(JTA) — Judith Butler, a literature professor from California, pulled out of a talk she was scheduled to give at the Jewish Museum in New York amid protests connected to her support for boycotting Israel.

Butler, who teaches comparative literature and critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley, was set to speak at an event on March 6 about the writer Franz Kafka.

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But supporters of Israel took issue with the museum’s decision to invite her, the Forward reported Thursday. The opponents cited her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, or BDS, and harsh criticism of Israel.

“I cancelled the event,” Butler told the Forward in an email.

“While her political views were not a factor in her participation, the debates about her politics have become a distraction making it impossible to present the conversation about Kafka as intended,” the museum said in a statement.

According to the Forward, the museum scrapped the entire event because Butler pulled out of a panel of experts. She said in a statement that she regretted having to scrap the talk.

“I was very much looking forward to the discussion of Kafka in The Jewish Museum, and to affirm the value of Kafka’s literary work in that setting,” Butler said in a statement released by the museum.

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