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Tel Aviv University
TAU Adi Ophir together with Minerva Humanities fellows and other anti-Israel activists at a Columbia U Conference

TAU, Adi Ophir, Cohn & Minerva Humanities


Editorial Note:
Professor Adi Ophir, a philosopher at Tel Aviv University, is the academic director of the Lexicon Project at the Minerva Center, described as the study of "foundational concepts" in political theory.  He is one of the organizers of a conference at Columbia University's prestigious Society of Fellows of Humanities designed to popularize the Project in the United States.  The Society offers a doctoral program for American and foreign students from countries as far as Brazil and Australia and its functions attract an elite New York audience.
 The Lexicon group explains that "through the critical interpretation and redefinition of these concepts the group seeks to broaden the horizons of the theoretical thought and at the same time to shed light on present political conditions."   To accomplish this goal, the Lexicon employs a number of fellows, ostensibly to provide new insights into issues of theory and practice.
However, as IAM repeatedly reported,  Lexicon fellows and their associates have produced some of the most delegtimizing critique of Israel.  Ophir found Israel to be on the same ontological plane of evil as Nazi Germany. Ariella Azoulay, a "lexo-photographer" has "imagined" torture when describing a pictures of Palestinian prisoners and called Anat Kam, the solider imprisoned for leaking secret information an "archivist" who shared the IDF "archives" with the world. Hagar Kotef  argues that the checkpoints are a destructive mean of control and therefore violence against them seem to be justified.
Theory aside, the conference participants have a long activist record. Anat Biletzki is involved in the BDS movement; she also hopes to "change minds" of American Jews and policy makers who don't believe in the possibility of making a deal with the Palestinians.  Ann Stoler has endorsed the Palestinian call for BDS in 2010, as has Gil Anidjar in 2009. Susan Buck-Morss expressed support for the "non-violent" acts of 'Midnight on Mavi Marmara' activists. In 2009, Stathis Gourgouris sent a letter to president of his university asking him to publicly denounce Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as it represents a threat to academic freedom. Jacques Lezra signed a letter calling to divest from Israel: "All the above companies actively enable Israel’s ongoing occupation and assaults on Palestinian communities and homes." Oded Schechter signed the petition "Free Gaza - In support of the Palestinian Human Rights Community Call for International Action".  The petition complained about the occupation, the brutal ongoing repression of the Palestinian population, etc. Neferti Tadiar is on the advisory board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
As the conference schedule indicates, the Lexicon's radical agenda would be well represented in New York.

Society of Fellows, Columbia University
Phone: (212) 854-8443 | Fax: (212) 662-7289 | Email: 

Reworking Political Concepts II:
A Lexicon in Formation

Second Floor Common Room, Heyman Center, Columbia University
Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4, 2012

Click here to view the conference schedule.

This conference is free and open to the public. No registration or tickets necessary. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Photo I.D. required for entry.



Adi Ophir 
The Cohen Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas
Tel Aviv University

Hagar Kotef 
Society of Fellows, Columbia University
Ann Stoler 
Department of Anthropology, New School


Gil Anidjar, Columbia University
Ariella Azoulay, Tel Aviv University
Claudia Baracchi, University of Milano-Bicocca
Anat Biletzki, Quinnipiac University & Tel Aviv University
Susan Buck-Morss, City University of New York
Alice Crary, The New School
E. Valentine Davis, Columbia University
Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University
Ranjana Khanna, Duke University
Hagar Kotef, Columbia University
Jacques Lezra, New York University
Uday Mehta, City University of New York
Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University
Oded Schecter, Princeton University
Ann Stoler, The New School
Neferti Tadiar, Barnard College
Robin Wagner-Pacifici, The New School


This conference is part of the early stages in the formation of a lexicon of political concepts. It will be the 6th in a series of conferences started in Tel Aviv University, and the second to take place in New York City. The project is guided by one formal principle: we pose the Socratic question "what is x?", and by one theatrical principle: the concepts defined should be relevant to political thought and, more broadly, to thinking about the political. The questions--what is political thought and what is the political-- are not predetermined here. They are open for renewed study and debate. This conference is therefore a part of an ongoing attempt to redefine both the boundaries of the political (and with them, the disciplinary boundaries of political philosophy or theory) and the elements included within these boundaries. 

Each paper will focus on a single concept. This may be a common concept, whose meaning is presumably known to all, or a less common concept, that describes something familiar and exposes new links between phenomena hitherto deemed unrelated. It may be a concept situated within the core of political philosophy, or a concept whose political attributes are precisely what the contributor seeks to expose. We do not seek answers reconstructing and summarizing the history of the use (philosophical or mundane) of the concept in question, or answers      presuming to seal and secure this use and this history. We rather invite explorations which move between different perspectives, which bring together conflicting interpretations, and which seek to surface disciplinary and cultural differences. 

We therefore invite each contributor to address his/her question as though asking it for the first time, even if she has in fact been pursuing and pondering the question for years. In other words, this is a call to form an index, an order: to distinguish and differentiate – indeed to define – an “x” (a concept, a matter at hand). At the same time, this is a call to disrupt this very order, to propose answers refusing the pretension of containing meaning within the boundaries of a rigid definition (refusing, to put it differently, the order encapsulated by the question). This duality is maintained at the level of the project itself, which seeks to open the discussion launched by the Socratic question rather than to bring it to an end. Even if at times the lexical writing pretends to hold the authority of providing a final word, this pretence is no more than a discursive strategy, an effort to amass authority or wield it; it is, in other words, itself always also political.

Funding generously provided by:
The Society of Fellows in the Humanities
The Heyman Center for the Humanities
The New School for Social Research
The Institute for Research on Women and Gender
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College

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