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Why I Will Not Participate in the Turin Book Fair ?

When I agreed to participate in the Turin Book Fair, which I have done before, I had no idea that the ‘guest of honour’ was Israel and its 60th birthday. But this is also the 60th anniversary of what the Palestinian call the ‘nakba’the disaster that befell them that year, when they were expelled from their villages, some killed, women raped by the settlers. These facts are no longer disputed. So why did the Turin Book Fair not invite Palestinians in equal numbers? 30 Israeli writers and 30 Palestinian writers (and I promise you they exist and are very fine poets and novelists) might have been seen as a positive and peaceful gesture and a positive debate might have taken place. A literary version of Daniel Barenboim’s Diwan Orchestra, half-Israeli, half-Palestinian. Such a move would have brought people together, but no. The cultural commissars know best. I have argued vigorously with some of the Israeli writers visiting the fair on other occasions and would have happily done the same again if conditions had been different. What they decided to do is an ugly provocation.

 

It would appear that culture is increasingly bound to the political priorities of the US/EU nexus. The West is blind to Palestinian suffering. The Israeli war on Lebanon, the daily reports from the Gaza ghetto do not move official Europe. In France, we know, it is virtually impossible to criticise Israel. In Germany, too, for special reasons. It would be sad if Italy went the same way. How many times do we have to stress that criticism of Israel’s colonial policies is not anti-semitic. To accept this is to become willing victims of the blackmail the Israeli establishment uses to silence its critics. There are some courageous Israeli critics like Aharon Shabtai, Amira Hass, Yitzhak Laor and others who will not permit their voices to be muffled in this fashion. Shabtai refused to attend this fair. How could I do otherwise.

 

It is one thing to support Israel’s right to exist, which I do and always have done. But from that to extrapolate that this right to exists means that Israel is given a blank cheque to do what it wishes to those it expelled and whom it treats like untermensch is unacceptable. Personally I favour a single Israel/Palestine in which all citizens are equal. I am told this is utopian. It may be but it is the only long-term solution. Because of the subject matter of my novels I am often asked (most recently in Madison, Wisconsin) whether it might be possible to recreate the best times of al-Andalus and Sicily when three cultures co-existed for a long time. My reply is the same: the only place today where it could be recreated is Israel/Palestine.

 

We live in a world of double standards, but it is not necessary to accept them. It is sometimes the case that individuals and groups to whom evil is done, inflict evil in return. But the first does not justify the second. It was European anti-semitism that tolerated the judeocide of the second world war of which the Palestinians have now become the indirect victims. Many Israelis are aware of this fact but would rather not think about it. Many Europeans regard Palestinians and Muslims today as they once regarded the Jews. That is the irony visible in press comments and television coverage in virtually every European country. It’s a pity that the Turin Book Fair bureaucracy decided to pander to the new prejudices sweeping the continent. Let us hope their example is not followed elsewhere.

 

 

Tariq Ali is the author of Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso. His new book, The Duel: Pakistan In the Flightpath of American Power, will be published by Scribner in July. He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

 

SOURCE : COUNTER PUNCH

3 commentaires - “Why I Will Not Participate in the Turin Book Fair ?”

  1. “Personally I favour a single Israel/Palestine in which all citizens are equal.”
    I am afraid this is unacceptable for Israel. For simple demographic reasons, the secular and democratic institutions of Israel would soon be overtaken by Islamist / non-secular powers. And then what?
    Until there exists strong secular democracies in the Muslim world, and strong secular movements, like they exist in the Christian world or in Israel, secular democracies will always be weary of political Islam (or Islamism) and very righty so.
    A one-state solution would be suicidal for the secular, democratic state of Israel. How can you not see that?

  2. Salam

    Imam Al-Shatibi’s Theory of the Higher Objectives and Intents of Islamic Law
    Ahmad Al-Raysuni,
    Publisher: International Institute of Islamic Thought

    mais rien en français…..

    Salam

  3. “Many Europeans regard Palestinians and Muslims today as they once regarded the Jews.”
    Europeans regard Palestinians and Muslims.Is it a joke ? More and more Europeans finally realized the danger of Muslims in Europe,but to late it is like a cancer.Your letter is a good sample of anti-Semitism covered with nice words.Between lines is “I HATE ISRAEL”and this modern Islamic “culture” you bringing to Europeans.By the way why in Islamic World nobody likes Palestinians ? It is not my opinion,but opinion of many Palestinians ,that I met in Israel.Many of them ready to live in peace with Israel,especially older people,but younger Palestinians not ready .Why ? The do not want to work,it is much easier and more interesting for them to fight Israelis and to be paid for this by Israel “lovers” as Iran and others.
    Now Europe is in the same danger as Israel is,but these clowns- European politicians don’t care about it,next generation of Europeans in Islamic Europe will pay a heavy price for these mistakes.
    What do you think about change,all Israelis leaving Israel for European countries and all Muslims leaving Europe and going back to their counties,Palestinians getting back Palestine and making from this beautiful country junk yard.Good idea,isn’t it ?Probably many Israelis will agree,but what about Palestinians and other Muslims in Europe ?
    Ask them ,probably many of them will refuse such change.Why ?Many of them in Europe have social help,back in the countries the will have to work,to work hard.Are they ready ? No,most of the not.It is so nice to leave in Europe to be paid (not enough ,but better then in Pakistan,Tunis etc) and in the same time hate Europeans,set on fire cars,buses,stores etc.Paris is a good sample and it is just beginning.An you and others like you,smart educated ,rich are the biggest evil for West World .One day Europeans will realize that politcorrection is a really bad thing,but then it will be to late.On streets of Paris they had to use Army and tanks instead of police.There should be language of force for Muslim radical instead of democracy,as it is the only language you can understand.Democracy talks will kill West World and you now that and use it.
    Do not forget there in the other world not just a heaven,but hell as well.
    By the way I don’t hate Muslims Jews,Christians or other,no ,I don’t care about race color of skin etc.But I hate people who saying,that they are better then other,that trying to rule others.
    Why don’t you fight a radical Islam – it is what a World need now.
    PS.Interesting,if somebody in Turin have missed you ?At least you’ve saved money in the trip.

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