McGill Controversy on Honorary Degree for Judith Butler

May 28, 2013

Pro-Israel students at McGill University are protesting a plan to give an honorary degree on Thursday to Judith Butler, co-director of the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California at Berkeley, The Montreal Gazette reported. Butler is a major figure in literary and feminist scholarship, but she is controversial because her activism for the Palestinian cause extends to support of the movement to boycott Israel, a movement that critics see as equivalent to calling for the destruction of Israel. Ilana Donohue, co-president of McGill Students for Israel, said: "She’s an accomplished scholar, but her views on Israel would be quite disturbing to many students. She doesn’t believe in a Jewish state and we want other schools to think twice before giving her awards because it offends students." Christopher Manfredi, dean of arts at McGill, said Butler is being honored for her scholarship, and that the university supports freedom of expression even if "comments are controversial or considered objectionable by some."

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