Writer Loses Literary Award After Arab League Discovers That He Attended Conference In Israel

Algerian writer Boualem Sansal have been stripped of his literary prize of 15,000 euros after the Arab sponsors of the award learned that he had visited Israel. Originally, the Editions Gallimard Arabic Novel prize was withdrawn entirely, but under pressure Sansal was given the prestigious French literary award but not the cash. The incident has tarnished the image of the award and undermined its commitment to artistic expression.

The prize is granted by the Arab Ambassadors Council, based in Paris. Sansal was nominated for the prize for his book “Rue Darwin” (Darwin Street). He then attended the Jerusalem Writers Festival last May as a guest of honor. The trip was denounced by Hamas as “an act of treason against the Palestinian people.”

Sansal denounced how Arabs had “shut themselves in a prison of intolerance.” He is of course correct. Sansal and other artists are the greatest hope for achieving greater understanding between peoples. These sponsors have turned a worthy artistic award into the very symbolic of orthodoxy and intolerance.

A spokeswoman for the Arab Ambassadors Council insisted that “The Ambassadors are subject to the official position of the Arab League which considers itself effectively in a state of war with Israel. The council is obliged to follow directives from the Arab League. Every ambassador regrets that this has happened. They would never want to interfere with literature.” Here’s an idea. Why not resign rather than try to strip an artist of his recognition and later strip him of his award? It is a lot like saying that “we were the unwitting vehicle of intolerance.” The award is now hopelessly compromised unless the AAC denounces the actions taken against this writer and establish clear guidelines to avoid such retaliation in the future.

Source: Times of Israel

11 thoughts on “Writer Loses Literary Award After Arab League Discovers That He Attended Conference In Israel”

  1. Malisha,
    I don’t have any reason to doubt that, but Mr. Spindell wrote that there is a stalemate. If it is Arabs killing the Arabs who recognize Israel’s right to exist, this is one sided (and does not fit my understanding of stalemate). Dennis Prager points out that understanding the problem is simple: Arabs do not accept Israel’s right to exist, whereas the converse is not true.

  2. As to who could execute the warrant? Anybody. A friend of mine is a Yemeni writer and he has had a Fatwah out on him for more than ten years. He’s safe in Israel but not in his own country! BBC puts him on the air but now Al-Jazeera doesn’t! And all HE did was say that Israel should be recognized so that other agreements could be made and a reconstruction could begin. Nearly every entity in the Middle East agrees but can’t say it. Every normal idea (on both sides) gets snowed by a ton of rhetoric and hysteria. My tribes (there are a total of about 60, not counting wholly owned subsidiaries and trade-names) went, over a course of four thousand years or so, from a bunch of warring nomads to a bunch of warring shnomads and there’s no end in sight yet. Sigh….

  3. Personally I like to see Beebee and Hamas chief (?) chained together for a month. Alternating weeks in the two places. Any bets?

    As for spicy falafel, whose is best?

  4. Why yes! I think I will have a little extra irony with my falafel. Thank you!

  5. How many Arabs live in Israel? A million? What if there was an Arab writer who lived in Israel? Disqualified because of his abode? What if an Arab writer wrote in English instead of Arabic? Disqualified?

    Can someone give us the address of the Arab Ambassadors Council in Paris? I would like to send them some comic books.

  6. “Yet recognition of this fact would sign a warrant of death for any Arab entity.” How so? Who would “sign” and “execute” the warrant?

  7. It is a sad weak World that stoops to taking little bits of money back from Artists…

  8. The Arab world is in a difficult situation. Realistically, Israel will not go away. Yet recognition of this fact would sign a warrant of death for any Arab entity.
    Thus the situation continues as a bitter stalemate that empowers extremists on both sides. It remains a tragic dance of destruction for all parties, with no end in sight.

  9. I once wrote that Osip Mandelstam said that CCCP was the only nation that held poetry in such great regard that they executed them for their writings. He was.

    May I say that the Muslim countries run a very close second.

    The reason is that men of litterature enjoy almost prophet status in these lands of analphebetism. Thus their thoughts can negatively effect the existing regime.

  10. I am sure some people will think that this is a political reaction to an academic pursuit. 😉

    At first I thought it was a proxy for the republican reaction to the recent writing of Justice Roberts (“an act of treason against the [Palace Dwelling] people”).

    It is sometimes easy to become confused when things are “getting curiouser and curiouser.”

  11. An Award is an award….. Just because someone let’s politics get in the way….. Obama wouldn’t have the Nobel Prize…… But the price was right……

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