Are authors set to join musicians, and most recently, filmmaker Mike Leigh in boycotting Israel ? After a wave of cancellations from musicians like the Pixies and Elvis Costello, who decided to boycott Israel, the question on everyone's lips is what will happen, if anything in the book market?
British author Iain Banks, writer of The Wasp Factory has decisively declared that his manuscripts would not be translated into Hebrew, but Banks seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
Even author Henning Mankell, who was on the Mavi Marmara, isn't certain that boycotting helps send the messages he believes in. Publisher "Dani Books" did meet with one over-idealistic publisher, but other than that it would seem that the publishing world and music world operate on different levels.
"Most publishing relationships are built on close personal relationships" admits Sari Gutman, publisher and editor in chief of Ahuzat Bayit. That said, we have tried to feel the pulse among our translated authors, most of them chose not to comment at all. Harlen Coben, and Jhumpa Lahiri stated firmly that they do not comment on political issues, though some authors jumped at the opportunity to express their opinions.
American author Joseph Finder, one of the world's most successful suspense authors, whose books have experienced success in Israel as well (his books include "Vanished" and "Power Play", Yedioth Books) understands the boycotters, but doesn't for one moment think they are right.
Media to Blame?
"I have the utmost respect for musicians like the Pixies and Elvis Costello, who decided to boycott Israel after the flotilla. But I still think they made a mistake, even if I can understand why. They didn't fully comprehend the issue and for that I blame the international media and the Israeli government who didn't know how to handle the incident and who were slow and hesitant in their response," he stated.
Author Joseph Finder (Photo: Yedioth Books)
"When it comes to the Mavi Marmara flotilla", added Finder, "No one in the US or Britain knew that just a day before the incident, the Al Jazeera new agency broadcasted an interview with members of the flotilla on board the ship, and some of the Muslims there called for death to all Jews and Israel's defeat in battle. So why are some musicians and leading authors interested in boycotting Israel? Simply because they don't know the truth, and it's there, documented, but for some reason it isn't shown properly".
Finder claims that like the cliché, things look different from the other side: "Most people outside of Israel don't know that the Palestinian Authority denies that the holocaust ever happened. Palestinian scholars go on TV and say 'Dachau and Auschwitz did not exist'. I think the Palestinian authority is opposed to Israel's right to exist. Children in Gaza grow up thinking there won't be peace until Israel is destroyed."
"All in all", concludes Finder, "I don't blame Costello – he is one of my favorite musicians – for not knowing the whole story. I do blame the Israeli government which has always been awful at PR. They may have on the battle of the flotilla, but they are on their way to losing the war."
Author Jeremy Blachman (Photo: Sarah Shatz)
Author Jeremy Blachman, author of international bestseller "The Anonymous Lawyer" (Hebrew edition, Keter books) claims that it has to do with how reality is reflected:
"As a supporter of Israel, it's hard for me to see people who misinterpret the reality, where Israel stands, where she has to defend herself. I am definitely proud and happy that my books are translated into Hebrew. To punish Israelis with a cultural boycott simply because the country is trying to defend itself seems inherently wrong".
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