‘In [our struggle], you have to fight against the whole nation—and that too, your own. But it is more important than swaraj. There is no use having swaraj, if you cannot defend it.’
As the streets of Israel are consumed by a mighty protest against the increasing authoritarianism and the planned coup against constitutional authority by right-wing forces, we announce the arrival of the Hebrew edition of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s seminal Annihilation of Caste, published by Babel Press. The story of this text is well-trodden. First prepared as a speech to be delivered at the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal’s Conference in Lahore, the organizers of the event cancelled Ambedkar’s appearance on account of his work being so incendiary. Then, as now, Annihilation’s message remains unpalatable to the savarna audiences for whom it is intended. Ambedkar acknowledged as much: ‘All this may not be enough to commend my views. I think they are not likely to alter yours. But whether they do or do not, the responsibility is entirely yours. You must make your efforts to uproot caste, if not in my way, then in your way. … Yours is more difficult [a task] than the other national cause, namely, swaraj.’
As Israel faces up to its future with uncertainty, Ambedkar has much to offer to its cause. To look at its own wrongs while also imagining the possibility of a democratic social life of association, that is the gift and the burden that this revolutionary text presents.
We invite you to the launch of the Hebrew edition of Annihilation of Caste:
Time: 1 September 2023; 6 pm
Venue: Khoj Studios, S-17 Khirki Extension, New Delhi 110017
The publisher of Babel, Sharon Rotbard will be in conversation with artist Achia Anzi, professor Y.S. Alone of JNU, and S. Anand of Navayana.