The speech by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek caused a tumult at the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Zizek said he condemned Hamas' terrorist attacks on the Israeli population, but stressed that one must also listen to the Palestinians and consider their background if one wants to understand the conflict.
During the speech, some guests left the hall. The Hessian anti-Semitism commissioner Uwe Becker contradicted Zizek first before and later directly on stage. Becker accused Zizek of relativizing Hamas' crimes, left the hall several times, but finally returned accompanied by local Frankfurt politicians. Book fair director Juergen Boos also tried to appease Becker.
He's not putting things into perspective at all, replied Zizek. The terrorist attacks are a terrible crime and Israel has every right to defend itself. But in order to understand what is happening there, you also have to look at the background of the Palestinians. There can be no peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestine issue.
Even before the interruption, the philosopher had criticized a “ban on analysis” on this topic. Zizek criticized the fact that all of his previous speakers had spoken about Israel but no one had spoken about the Palestinians. He considers the decision not to honor the Palestinian author Adania Shibli at the book fair to be “scandalous”.
Zizek said he was proud to be at the book fair, "and I'm also a little ashamed to be here." Boos was audibly touched at the end of Zizek's speech. The book fair is the place for free words “and we have to be able to express them here”. He was grateful for the opposition from the audience, but he was also happy that they were able to hear the speech to the end. "It's important that we listen to each other."