Boualem Sansal: Israel Finds Its Token Arab
By: Najwan Darwish
Published Saturday, May 12, 2012
Ignoring boycott calls, Algerian author Boualem Sansal will be a “guest of honor” at Israel’s International Writers Festival in Jerusalem as Palestinians commemorate Nakba.
The Israeli colonialist establishment seems to think that “frenchified writers” - to borrow the popular Algerian saying - are the weak spot of Arab writers. It has been capturing the weaklings since the Oslo agreement, sometimes with official backing from France.
This year, they caught Algerian writer Boualem Sansal (b. 1949). To be precise, they responded to his longtime foolish courtship.
He is the author of racist delusional works about the structural similarities between Nazism and Islam and “Hollywood-style” theories about former Nazis hiding in Arab countries.
Salsal will be a “guest of honor” at the International Writers Conference opening in Jerusalem on Sunday and running until May 18, as part of Zionist festivities - on the 64th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine - centered around Israel’s “declaration of Independence!”
While leftist pretexts are sometimes used by some to justify cultural relations with Israeli groups, the International Writers Festival - held every two years and mostly attended by Israelis - never makes such claims.
It was launched by Shimon Peres in 2008. It is supported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and institutions of the Zionist extreme right. It is almost a promotional festival on the occasion of their “Independence Day” and part of the enormous propaganda campaign held by the occupation every year during on the day of Nakba.
Despite the boycott calls to Sansal, namely from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the author of “The Oath of the Barbarians” would let nothing stand in the way of his meeting Zionism in the home that it occupies.
Funnily enough, the organizers of the festival announced that another Arab will join Salsal at the seminar, but his identity will be kept secret until his safe return home.
Naturally, Orientalism is no stranger to such occasions. Some sessions have titles such as “On What Separates and What Connects the East and the West.” The latter will be presented by Salsal and Arabist Stefan Weidner, chief editor of the journal Fikrun wa Fann (Art and Thought), published by the [German] Goethe Istitute.
Alongside the festival, the French embassy is organizing a meeting with Sansal in Tel Aviv on “the occasion of his first visit to Israel” at the French Institution in Israel on May 15.
In most cases, Israeli festivals attract unimportant writers or opportunist “stars” like Tahar Ben Jelloun (who boasts to the French about his visits to Israel and friendship with some of its writers).
We should not forget that the majority of Francophone Arab writers are not swayed by such attempts. Some use the French tool - whether language or institutions - to bolster their relationship with the Palestinian cause, supporting justice in Palestine and other Arab causes.
On other occasions, Israelis have used deception to attract writers who are either brainwashed or whose knowledge of the Palestinian cause is part of the official western “consciousness” already colluding with “Israel.”
Worn-out cliches about dialogue and peace do not fool even the idiots. The game is open. The colonialist fascist regime is aiming to clean its hands from the blood of its victims using arts and literature.
Authors brought to such events are nothing but the rags used to clean the hands of colonialists and break the international cultural boycott, which has been gaining strength.
Such writers/rags often resort to searching for Palestinian writers (rarely of importance) to meet them and clean their conscience by creating an imaginary balance.
Something similar seems to be happening this year. Some foreign participants are asking for “meetings to be arranged with ‘local’ Palestinian writers in Ramallah and tours to ‘East’ Jerusalem to see Palestinians.”
This led the General Union of Palestinian Writers to release a statement calling for their boycott. “This Orientalist tendency to meet ‘locals’ as colonialist subjects for show, through colonialist mediators, should be condemned and strictly boycotted. They have to choose whether to stand by occupation or freedom. There is no place in between,” the statement said.
It is unclear how to classify Sansal, who rambles between pedantic naivete and stupid opportunism. He is always eager to attack Islamic fundamentalism but does not tend to attack other fundamentalisms, Christian or Jewish. Instead, he agrees to celebrate them.
Here he is visiting a colonialist fascist entity that is boycotted today by the most noble of intellectuals in the West. Some of them are Jewish intellectuals who reject Zionism. This is in addition to the Algerian and Arab consensus on the issue.
Algerian writers described Sansal’s participation in an Israeli festival as a “scandal of epic proportions.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.