On first reading the news in Haaretz, Israel‘s best-known left-liberal newspaper, it seemed hard to believe: Gianni Vattimo, one of Italy‘s most renowned political intellectuals and winner of the 2002 Hannah Arendt Award, used hate speech in an interview with Radio 24 – hate speech regarding Israel.
What sort of person must a philosopher be whose greatest desire is to see more "Zionist bastards" dead, and who proclaims that Israel is worse than the Nazi regime? How much must a "progressive" intellectual have lost his way in order to side with Hamas – an organisation, after all, whose declared aim is the annihilation of Israel and that has set up its own authoritarian, savage regime in Gaza?
By calling for the creation of "international brigades" to support Hamas in its war against Israel, he is invoking the tradition of the antifascist struggle – in a campaign directed against the state founded by the survivors of the Shoah.
All of this has nothing to do with criticising Israel. Vattimo has become a mouthpiece of contemporary anti-Semitism in the guise of militant anti-Zionism.
No-one would ever have imagined that the association supporting the Hannah Arendt Award would ever be confronted with a situation, in which it has to consider revoking an award. In the case of Gianni Vattimo, this is what it should do.
Co-President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
- Open letter of the association „Hannah-Arendt-Preis für politisches Denken“ (German, PDF)