Outcast: How Jews Were Banished from the Anti-Racist Imagination

NO PASARAN MEDIA | 15th June 2023 | NON FICTION | RRP £9.99 | C.Bassi@shu.ac.uk | media@nopasaran.media |

Outcast is an explanation of how Jewish people’s experiences of racism have been cast out of the anti-racist imagination, as the very possibility of recognising anti-Jewish racism has been displaced by the commonplace leftist belief that when Jewish people cry ‘antisemitism!’, their surreptitious intent is to cover up the real racism propagated by Israel against the Palestinians.

How this has happened lies both in an academic framework for the study of racism that confines racism to a colonial phenomenon of ‘white over black’ domination, and in the antisemitic idea of ‘the Jewish question’: that something must be done about the harm which Jews pose to humanity. Outcast shows that when both are translated into an understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Zionism and all associated Jews become the representation of racism incarnate demanding the unprecedented wipe out of Israel.

As a route forward, this book demonstrates that when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is analysed through the wider historical context of European antisemitism, colonialism and nationalism, and free from ‘the Jewish question’, the racist and colonial dimensions of Israel are comprehended but not as an exceptional aberration and an outstanding stain on humanity. Escaping the confines of identity politics, including ‘racial’ identity politics, based on the idea that there are intrinsic differences dividing and excluding humanity, Outcast makes the case for a genuinely universal politics of human liberation.

“Through a forensic and detailed excavation, Camila Bassi illustrates the subtle and insidious ways antisemitic tropes, presumptions and fallacies continue to creep into a wide range of academic arguments and left-wing political policies. Without being an apologist for the Right’s weaponization of antisemitism or for the oppressive and racist policies of the Israeli state, Bassi illuminates with clarity and precision how ‘Jews’ too often get pinned to particular tendencies, class positions, personalities and motives, how Zionism is too easily equated with European colonialism and how the distinct history of Jews in Europe is too readily discounted, dismissed or discredited as having any relevance to contemporary discussions of race, racism or racial politics. Indeed, at the heart of this book is not simply a critique of antisemitism, but a critique of identity politics writ large and the emphasis in contemporary academic and political debate to approach race not as an historical construction with varied and complex manifestations but as the result of a single event – i.e., British colonialism. The danger is a two-dimensional understanding of race and racial histories that provides limited opportunities for anti-racist politics. In response Bassi provides an alternative and far more hopeful left-wing vision. One that is resolute in its universalism and in its commitment to solidarities that can acknowledge and yet transcend the unaccountable differences that define us. Singular in its willingness to swim against the currents of so many contemporary political tides, this is a substantive academic work that should stimulate academic debate far beyond its immediate subject matter.” (Dr Mitch Rose, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Aberystwyth University)

“Outcast makes an original and unusually valuable contribution to the existing literature on contemporary Left antisemitism, partly because it’s written by an insider.  Camila Bassi is an academic and activist on the anti-racist Left who draws on her personal knowledge and experience, as well as on historic and current scholarly work, to explain why today’s anti-racist Left fails to recognise Jews as a persecuted minority but regards them instead as racists. Dr Bassi is in a unique position to expose and explain the current Left’s obsessive hostility towards Jews, Israel, and Zionism, and also to show how it can overcome this hostility, and why it is so important for the Left, as well as for Jews, that it do so. This compelling book, drawing as it does on direct experience as well as on key scholarly work, provides a searching analysis which also demonstrates some welcome hope of redemption.” (Lesley Klaff, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism)

“Camila Bassi’s critique of antisemitism affirms an anti-racism rooted in universalism – a much needed corrective to those sections of the Left that have abandoned this foundation.” (Daniel Randall, author of Confronting Antisemitism on the Left: Arguments for Socialists)

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