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McEwan, Jerusalem Book Fair and more - Posturing versus real criticism, indeed - - Response to Dow Marmur
Response to Dow Marmur`s article: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/949242--marmur-posturing-versus-real-criticism

Posturing versus real criticism, indeed

by Ofer Neiman

As one of the Israeli citizens who protested against Ian McEwan`s participation in the Jerusalem Book Fair, I know this: Mr. McEwan did not need to receive the Jerusalem Prize in order to come to Israel/Palestine, express his views and communicate with the public. Likewise, Marina Nemat and Umberto Eco (who has admitted that he is not even active against the allegedly corrupt conduct of his own Prime Minister) did not need to attend the Jerusalem Book Fair as official guests of the Israeli government, in order to do the same. Distinguished scholars, such as Judith Butler and Naomi Klein have visited the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah and other corners of Israel`s backyard, without legitimizing those responsible for the human rights violations committed there. These violations include the construction of illegal settlements, torture, detention of children, and blatant discrimination in the allocation of resources.


By accepting official Israeli prizes, or delivering lectures under the official auspices of the Israeli establishment, McEwan, Nemat and Eco have allowed the perpetrators of severe human rights violations, such as Jerusalem`s Mayor Nir Barkat, to exploit the occasion, and disseminate the blatant lie `we promote tolerance here in Jerusalem, an open city`. This claim is patently false. When families in east Jerusalem are expelled from their homes to make way for Kahanist Israeli settlers, with Mayor Barkat actively supporting, and when nine year old children in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan are abducted from their beds by the Israeli police in the middle of the night, with Mayor Barkat keeping silent, this city is neither tolerant nor open.


As expected, Mr. McEwan has been trying to whitewash his cozying up to the Israeli establishment, by donating his prize money to Combatants for Peace. This benevolent group, established years ago, has not succeeded in changing the mindset of the Israeli public. Time has taught us that as long as the public here experiences a `business as usual` atmosphere, most people will be apathetic towards Israel`s illegal policies. On the other hand, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, a non-violent human rights based campaign has had a positive impact. This campaign has forced Western governments to denounce Israel`s policies at the United Nations. It has also forced Israeli leaders to face increasingly tough questions from their own public about their political intentions and the reality behind their peace rhetoric.


Anyone who cares about the future of Israelis and Palestinians must be concerned about Israel`s policies. Anyone who is concerned about these policies must open up to the BDS campaign.


Ofer Neiman is a co-editor of the Occupation Magazine, and is a member of the Israeli BDS action group.


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