Closing down discussion – authors and bookshops threatened by pro-Israel apologists

In a dangerous development pro-Israel apologists have managed to force the cancellation of a book launch due to be held in Blackwell’s Manchester for Sarah Irving’s new book Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian LiberationIn a statement on her website Sarah says:

I’m very sad to say that the Manchester launch of my Leila Khaled biography, which was due to take place a week on Thursday, has been cancelled. A very shaken staff member called me earlier to say that the shop had been subjected to a deluge of phone harassment since opening this morning, and that they simply could not cope. As a mainstream bookshop, Blackwell’s hasn’t experienced anything like this (or not for a very long time – I seem to remember tales of someone trying to firebomb it over another controversial title, but that was in the 1980s!) and they are simply not equipped to cope.

The event has now been re-scheduled to take place at the Manchester Digital Laboratory on the 25th May.

It also emerged that Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People, has received a death threat motivated by his criticism of Zionist historiography. Visit Verso for more information.

These attempts to shut down free discussion about the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict must be opposed. Without such discussion historical injustice will not be recognised and mutual understanding put even further out of reach.

It is worth noting the hypocrisy of such threats. Leila Khaled’s actions in the late 1960s should certainly be open to criticism and questioning, but they resulted in no deaths or physical injuries. By contrast sycophantic memoirs and autobiographies of Israeli leaders responsible for the deaths of thousands of Palestinians raise barely a murmur. We await the protests over Shimon Peres: The Biography (Peres authorised the 1996 attack on the UN compound in the Lebanese village of Qana, which killed 106 civilians) and Sharon: Portrait of a Leader (Israel’s Khan commission found that Sharon “bears personal responsibility” for the massacre of around 2500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982).

Leila Khaled

Icon of Palestinian Liberation

Sarah Irving

Compelling biography of a legendary Palestinian resistance fighter. From refugee camp to international infamy.

“Sarah Irving provides a fine portrayal of a compelling and mysterious figure from a tumultuous period in Palestinian history, mixing biography and historical critique to deliver a valuable insight into Leila Khaled’s character as well as her extraordinary appeal as a revolutionary icon.” – Nicholas Blincoe, Novelist and co-editor of Peace Under Fire: Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement

£12.99 only £11.50 on the Pluto site

Sabra and Shatila

September 1982

Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout

This book is a courageous attempt to make sense of what happened and an important political document in its own right.

£27.5 only £24.50 on the Pluto site

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