Focuses on the controversy over Judt’s position on Israel.
“I think he was one of the most important intellectual historians of our era,” said Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Middle East history at Columbia University and a friend of Judt’s. “He was also, I think, one of the most courageous public intellectuals of his generation.”
His 2003 essay on Israel caused a firestorm. In it, Judt called for a single, binational Jewish-Arab state in the Middle East. He lost many friends over that essay.
“I think he thought he was performing a public service,” said Khalidi. “I think he felt there is so much misinformation that it would be inevitable that he was saying things frankly and bluntly that people didn’t want to hear [and] would inevitably make him unpopular. I don’t think he cared about it.”
Tony Judt, scholar of European history, dies at 62 (Washington Post)
On social democracy and the state of Israel.
In his final public speech in October 2009, with breathing tubes in his nose, he questioned why American society seemed to be in decline and why the social advances of the 1960s, from racial justice to public broadcasting, were coming under threat.
“Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so?” he asked from his wheelchair. …
His critics condemned him for calling for the abolition of the Jewish state, and Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic that Mr. Judt “has become precisely the kind of intellectual whom his intellectual heroes would have despised.”
“Oh, that’s nuts,” Mr. Judt responded. “The issue is not whether Israel has a right to exist . . . The question is what kind of a state Israel should be. That’s all.” …
“Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today,” he wrote. He argued that the right and left have switched roles in society, with the left hoping to conserve social institutions while [the] right had become radical, abandoning “social moderation which served it so well.”
A good death (The Independent)
A comment on the example Judt set in publically sharing his anticipation of death.
Tony Judt was a fine historian, a specialist in the 20th century, and a prolific author who never shied away from controversy. That, until two years ago, is how he would have been remembered, and his writing and teaching would have been monument enough. But now, for every one person who knew and admired him for his scholarship, there will probably be many, many more who will mourn him for the fortitude he showed in his last illness, the fearlessness with which he spoke about it, and the strength of his determination to use every moment he had left.
The Israel issue.
As Professor of European studies at New York University he courted controversy with his views on Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.
He suggested Israel should accept Arabs as equal citizens in a secular state. …
Judt urged Israel to accept a “one-state solution” to its conflict with the Palestinians, a secular bi-national state.
“Today I am regarded outside New York University as a looney-tunes leftie self-hating Jewish communist; inside the university I’m regarded as a typical old-fashioned white male liberal elitist,” he told the Guardian newspaper in January.
There’s a video of Tony Judt discussing dying at BBC Health News.
I am saddened by the death of Tony Judt
Having wounded the earth, we watch as she bleeds out
Tony Judt and the Move for ALS bike ride
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Tony Judt: On the edge of a terrifying world
This mess we’re in – Part 3
Image source: Lizas Welt