Leipzig Book Award goes to Omri Boehm

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The 2024 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding has been awarded to the German-Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm for his book ‘Radical Universalism. Beyond Identity’, which was published in 2022.

The jury states: ‘The German-Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm will be honoured with the 2024 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his uncompromising defence of the core values of humanistic universalism and the obligation to recognise the equality of all human beings without relativising in any way. In his latest book, entitled Radical Universalism. Beyond Identity (2022), Boehm resolutely opposes the ideological hardening of the present and takes Kant’s definition of enlightenment as man’s emergence from self-imposed immaturity as the basis for a critical examination of Western liberalism and its tendency to think in terms of identities that then become absolute.’

In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony on 20 March 2024, Boehm said:

‘Jewish-Palestinian friendships still exist, and where they exist, the demands they make provide light. Israeli and Palestinian friends could not pretend that what happened on October 7th happened in a vacuum, just as they knew that it is shameful, especially for proud Palestinians, to speak of this mass murder as “armed resistance”. My Palestinian friends know that anyone who calls what my country is doing in Gaza now “self-defense” deeply shames my identity.’

With regard to German-Jewish relations, he noted:

‘And what about the German-Jewish friendship? Where it exists, it is a true miracle, one that is particularly close to my heart. But this miracle must now be protected from devaluation. […] Because of friendship the truth does not have to be sacrificed, on the contrary, hard truths must be spoken openly because we should remain friends.’

In an interview with ‘ARD tagesthemen’, Boehm once again promoted his idea of a federation on the territory of today’s State of Israel and the Palestinian territories. This idea cannot become reality in the near future, he said. ‘It is an ideal of peace that we can preserve.’

Sources: DW and City of Leipzig (in German)