Religion and Humanism in the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

October 9, 2014 - 17:30 - 19:00
Nador u. 11
Toth Gyogy Room (TIGY)
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Gilbert Achcar
Center for Religious Studies
CEU contact person: 
Esther Holbrook
+36 1 327-3000 ex 2170
Religion and Humanism in the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

The Center for Religious Studies invites you to
a Special Lecture by

Gilbert Achcar
(University of London)

Religion and Humanism in the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

Thursday, October 9, 2014

5:30 PM

CEU, Nador utca 11
Toth Gyorgy room (TIGY)
Reception to follow


Abstract: No other conflict matches the Arab-Israeli conflict when it comes to the “war of narratives”. In the latter, the full spectrum of political ideologies and ethical values has been deployed and remains in currency. Nationalism on both sides has resorted to discourses of legitimation ranging from the religious to the humanistic. Religious discourses receded in the decades following Wold War Two, which saw a clash of humanist discourses revolving around the Holocaust on one side and the Nakba on the other. However, in more recent times, religious discourses came back to the fore with 1) an ability,in their positive forms, to mobilize support going far beyond the coreligionists directly involved in the conflict: fundamentalist pan-Islamism in one case, and Christian Zionism in the other; and 2) an ability, in their negative forms, to mobilize discourses of racial hatred with a broader reach: anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. There will be no way out of theArab-Israeli conflict without a return to humanist values, on the basis of which alone a mutual understanding conducive to a true peace is possible.

Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon, researched and taught in Beirut, Paris and Berlin, and is currently Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London. His many books include: the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder, available in 13 languages; and Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy, co-authored with Noam Chomsky. He published most recently a collection of essays on Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism, in addition to his latest book: The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising.