A debate has long been raging between France’s public intellectuals regarding Israel/Palestine and the question of anti-Semitism. From Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1946 Anti-Semite and Jew to Jacques Derrida’s “Interpretations at War” to Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster, France—the country with the largest population of Jews and Arabs in Europe—has been fertile ground for these public debates. Even amongst philosophical allies positions have been fragmented; Deleuze expressed his support for the Palestinian cause, while Foucault held a strong pro-Israel stance.
Today, however, the debate has turned personal as well as ideological as attacks have been levelled against Alain Badiou, whose outspoken pro-Palestinian position and advocacy of a single state, along with his thoughts on anti-Semitism, have aroused much debate. Leading the charge is Éric Marty, a professor of contemporary literature at the University of Paris-7 and the author of Une querelle avec Alain Badiou, philosophe (2007). Marty had begun his querelle with Badiou as early as 2000 when he criticized Badiou for his enthusiasm for the ideas of the Cultural Revolution in China. By 2006 Marty published a full on attack with an article titled ‘Alain Badiou: the Future of a Negation’ in Les temps modernes. The ‘querelle’ continued with Badiou’s response to Marty titled ‘The Word “Jew” and the Sycophant’, in his book POLEMICS. Reflections on Anti-Semitism, a book co-authored with Eric Hazan and Ivan Segré, set out to definitively dispel all accusations of anti-Semitism against Badiou.
Still, in July, the debate heated up once more with the publication of Gérard Bensussan’s article in Libération titled, ‘The far Left has done what the far Right only dreamed of.’ There Bensussan, a professor of philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, charges Badiou and the far left critics of Israel with helping to restore anti-Semitic sentiments in France.
Below are several responses to Bensussan’s article. The first is Badiou’s retort followed by a response by Cécile Winter, the author of the essay 'The Master-Signifier of the New Aryans', which is published in Polemics. The final response comes from Ivan Segré, a Talmudic scholar and co-author with Badiou of Reflections on Anti-Semitism.
On January 26, Alain Badiou gave the closing lecture of the France-Culture forum, of which the Nouvel Observateur is a partner. Below appears an extract.
This text by Alain Badiou, which the Nouvel Observateur published as a pre-release, is a summary of the 'concluding lecture' which the philosopher gave this Saturday, 26 January, at the Sorbonne, at the end of the 'L'Année vue par... la philo' ['The year as seen by... philosophy'] forum, a day of debates organised by France-Culture in partnership with the Nouvel Observateur.
In his review for Prospect of The Adventure of French Philosophy by Alain Badiou, Jonathan Rée poses the question as to whether French philosophy is the country’s greatest export. Rée briefly details the rich history of what Badiou calls the “French moment” in contemporary thought. Focusing on Jean-Paul Sartre, Rée suggests that his and the work of other French theorists has always been received by the English speaking world with “a certain streak of madness.” Whilst the article locates Badiou as ‘the latest in the line of French philosophy professors who have had global greatness thrust upon them,’ Rée also states:
… in one respect at least, he defies the stereotype: he is a Mr Valiant-for-Truth, a believer in invariant external verities, and a born-again Platonist, committed to philosophy as “the discipline of the concept,” and mathematics as the revelation of reality.
Two giants of French philosophy discuss psychology, Western culture and the Kantian turn in the history of philosophy in this hidden gem of a video. Michel Foucault is interviewed by Alain Badiou, the acclaimed author of many books including Pocket Pantheon, and the forthcoming The Adventure of French Philosophy (2012), which both engage with Foucault's thought.