Israel’s 60th Birthday

Israel@60: More on Turin Book Fair by Dave

Peoples Geography: Having first indicated Egypt as their choice, organisers of the Turin Book Fair postponed having Egypt as their international Guest of Honour for 2009. One would consider that in 2008, inviting Palestine as Guest of Honour would have been inspired, a powerful symbolic gesture to a peoples who have not experienced any let-up in blocked efforts towards justice.

Instead, the organisers chose Israel as book fair guest this year. This decision is coupled with the choice of Israel as guest of honour for the Paris Book Fair and is ill-considered, coinciding as it does with the 60th Anniversary of the Naqba and the founding of the state of Israel, and at a time when the Israeli military occupation has only worsened.

Italian and international protests and calls for boycott have ensued, protesting the organisers decision that would serve to “commemorate” the Israeli occupation state and and its repressive policies in the OPT. The protest organisers are “appalled to see the world of culture take the side of those who methodically operate to annihilate Palestine and the Palestinians”.

One of the invited Israeli writers, poet Aaron Shabtai, applied his conscience when he rsvp’ed the organisers. Here is his note to Edna Degon of the organising committee (from Tlaxcala):

Dear Edna,
Thank you for your letter.

I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural week. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel, and even to France that sustains the occupation. And I do not want to participate.
Kind regards,
Aharon Shabtai
7 December, 2007


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