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Tel Aviv University
[TAU, Philosophy] The Anat Biletzki's Academic-Activist Project "Israel-Palestine: Politicizing Human Rights"
Bilde av professor i filosofi Anat Biletzki
TAU Prof. Anat Biletzki
Email:  anatbi@post.tau.ac.il

Editorial Note:

Anat Biletzki (Department of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University) has been a leader of the radical activist cohort. A veteran member of the Communist Party, she has spent virtually her entire academic career fighting for causes ranging from labor issues to the creation of a bi-national Jewish-Palestinian state as part of an activist-academic group that took up the call of Antonio Gramsci to change social reality. 

An earlier posting by IAM showed that Biletzki expressed full satisfaction with the academic-activist project, writing: “It is thought-provoking that these properties of the political bubble—critique and radicalism—are not independent of, and actually derive from, the intellectual, academic fundamentals that have contributed to the grounding of the bubble’s political progressivism.“  In other words, “political progressivism” aims replacing liberal democracy and market economy with a political system that bears more than a passing resemblance to the former Soviet Union.

In May 2013 Biletzki was invited to lecture at the University of Bergen, Norway about Israel-Palestine: Politicizing human rights. Biletzki has a chapter in a book with the same title.

In 2007 in a SABEEL conference entitled The Apartheid Paradigm: The Challenge to Promoting Justice, Biletzki echoed the same themes (see below). Biletzki called Israel an apartheid State, meaning "occupation with elements of colonization and apartheid" because Israel does not offer equal rights to all citizens.   Biletzki has complained about checkpoints, separation and the occupation.  Yet she rejects the two state solution and accuses Jewish racism for the desire to separate from the Palestinians. To this effect she cited a poll that has allegedly proved Israelis as racists.  Like other radical academic activists, Biletzki does not mention Arab and Palestinian objections to a one state solution, or any racist discourse in the Palestinian society.  In a style reminiscent of Communist writings, she ends on a note declaring the need to fight racism and achieve a one state solution. 

Biletzki was a past chair of B'Tselem, a radical group that had provided misleading information to Judge Richard Goldstone.  As a result, Goldston retracted his own report, writing on April 1, 2011 in the Washington Post: "We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different doc'ument."

It is thus rather astonishing to listen to Anat Biletzki's lecture at Yale University in early November 2010 (see below) entitled "The Smearing of Israeli Peace Activists".

Biletzki and all her fellow academics-activists have lived in the Ivory Tower, supported by taxpayer money and the governments that they love to trash.  They also live in liberal democracies – another subject of their radical critique – that gives them the freedom to speak out.  This would not have been the case if they lived in a communist country which Biletzki has tried so hard to create.

University of Bergen, Norway

DATE: 24.05.2013 - 12.15 to14.00
LOCATION:  Meeting room, 8th floor, The faculty of Social Sciences, Fosswinckelsgt. 6

Anat Biletzki seminar om Israel-Palestine: Politicizing Human Rights

Anat Biletzki is Albert Schweitzer professor of Philosophy at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, USA, and adjunct professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen. She was Professor of Philosophy and Head of Department at Tel Aviv University. She has been a Visiting Professor at Boston University and MIT and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has been active in the peace movement and in human rights in Israel for decades, serving as chairperson of B’Tselem -- the Israeli Information center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories -– in 2001-2006. In 2005 she was chosen as one of “50 most influential women in Israel” by Globes, the Israeli business monthly, and was nominated among the “1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005".


Politicizing Human Rights 

(Using International Law) pp. 180-198

By Anat Biletzki


Page 1

Human rights – in theory, discourse, and praxis – may be questioned as to their political nature; one instinctive answer claims that politics is the natural home of the human rights endeavor, whereas a more standard and institutional reply insists that human rights are, almost by definition, apolitical. This latter option usually turns to international law as the underpinning of human rights, presupposing thereby that law itself is, indeed, apolitical. The former, seemingly more natural, stance may also recognize the essential nonpartisan aura of human rights but still maintain their usefulness for political agendas. The following exercise is an attempt to meld together these opposing positions on human rights by, on the one hand, acquiescing to their politicality but, on the other hand, locating it precisely – even if not only – in the use of international law. In a sense, we are putting our foot down in the human-rights-are-political camp; the surprising element here is the justified exploitation of international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law for such political purposes. Because, however, the tension between the political and the universal (i.e., the apolitical) cannot be shrugged off, especially not by human rights workers and organizations themselves, we suggest a philosophical angle to mitigate it: Using the constructs of “identity” and “victim” to identify both the political and the universal, and their simultaneous presence in human rights, can lead to a different understanding of the political workings of human rights based on international law.


Uploaded March 2013

The Smearing of Israeli Peace Activists

Professor Anat Biletzki talk about the treatment of human rights activists in Israel in the year since the Goldstone report came out. She says they are slandered as traitors. She spoke at Yale University early November 2010.



Biletzki's talk begins 26.11 minutes into the program

Sabeel Conference 

“The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: 
Issues of Justice and Equality”



Naim Ateek

Anat Biletzki

Farid Esack

Moderated by: Joan Martin                             

PLAY VIDEO  11/17/07


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