The exploitation by the enemies of Israel of one of Anglo-Jewry's main cultural events - Jewish Book Week.
|No. 104||March 2, 2006|
Instituted following a resolution, dated the 8th May 1950, by the Jewish Book Council - a body which held its inaugural meeting on the 2nd December 1948 - and “the oldest literary festival in the U.K.” (see www.jewishbookweek.com), Jewish Book Week continues to enjoy - and largely to deserve - an international reputation for the high quality of the cultural events it presents, including lectures and debates, as well as its continuing success in persuading publishers to provide as great a variety of books “of Jewish interest”, as equivalent events organised in other countries.
Witness, for example, the participation in the sessions of the 5th March 2006, amongst others, of the distinguished Hungarian writer and survivor of the Shoa, Imre Kertesz, and Professor Laurel Leff (author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s. Most Important Newspaper - bizarrely paired in panel discussion with Jews for Justice for Palestinians supporter Arthur Neslen. In 2004 Bernard Henri Lévy and Salman Rushdie were guests of honour at Jewish Book Week, in a discussion entitled “Confronting Terror” which took place on the 28th February. A round table organised on the 2nd March 2003, “Stalin: Liberation and Survival”, was composed of Nathalie Babel, Shimon Markish and Eugene Pasternak, members of the families of some of the distinguished writers in question.
Unfortunately in recent years there has been evidence of strong hostility to Israel on the part of some of the organisers, as evidenced by the increasing number of anti-Zionist propaganda books on display, including pseudo-histories - like works by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé (the tenured Haifa professor who supports a boycott of all Israeli academics except anti-Zionists like him) which have been demonstrated, by Efraim Karsh and others, to falsify essential details of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Some of the round table debates have also being used increasingly for anti-Israel propaganda, even to the extent of de-legitimising the Jewish state. The round table held in the evening of the 6th March 2004, “Building the Dream”, supposedly about the history of Israeli architecture, pitted a sole supporter of Israel, Ilan Troen, Professor of Israel Studies at Brandeis University, against two Israeli anti-Zionists, Zvi Efrat and Eyal Weizman. Eyal Weizmann - who for some time has been the director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmith's College in London - is now heading the group Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine which is actively promoting a boycott of Israel by British architects.
Since the launch, under the auspices of Jewish Book Week, during the session of the 13th March 2005 of her book A Question of Zion - ostensibly a critical study of Zionism which is full of factual distortions and which, on occasion, tries to purvey outright falsehoods, (as I am sure members of SPME are aware) - Jacqueline Rose, professor of English at Queen Mary’s College, London University, has several times publicly declared her support for academic and cultural boycotts against Israel. See, foe example, her articles for www.openDemocracy.net, “Nation as trauma, Zionism as question: Jacqueline Rose interviewed”, dated 18th August 2005 and her reply to Linda Grant, dated 5th September 2005.
What has been tolerated in recent years under the umbrella of Jewish Book Week is surely incompatible with its original purpose, described by Dr. George Webber, a distinguished barrister and its first chairman, as being “to compile and circulate widely a list of Jewish books and to foster in Anglo-Jewry the reading and love of books.” - see page 94 of the late Alexander Rosenzweig’s excellent The Jewish Memorial Council. A History. 1919-1999.) It is time to put an end to the “hijacking” of Jewish communal and institutional events like Jewish Book Week by Israel-hating Jews, whether or not they describe themselves as post-Zionist or anti-Zionist.