Jewish Book Week Opened with Controversy
A symposium involving an anti-Israel author upsets some people.
The Jewish Book Week 2010 kicked off last Saturday, February 28, in London, UK. As literary giants gathered for the week-long festivities, a name in the programme surprised attendees. Mary-Kay Wilmers, Israel editor of the London Review of Books, led the discussion of her new book The Eitingons on February 28.
Wilmers has been known for making anti-Israeli comments. On October 2009, she told The Sunday Times, “I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.” So her inclusion in this year’s festival raised some eyebrows.
Professor Shalom Lappin at King’s College in London said to The Jewish Chronicle, “I don’t know what the organisers were thinking when they did this. Of course, there is freedom of speech and they can say what they like. But I don’t see why Jewish Book Week should provide a platform for them.” Zionist Federation President Eric Moonman also voiced similar concerns. He said to The Jewish Chronicle, “I think people will be offended. I think it is an insult.”
The Jewish Book Week committee, however, rebutted that the event was book discussion, not a political debate. Director Geraldine D’Amico said Wilmers was “not coming to talk about Israel and it has got nothing to do with Israel.”
Jewish Book Week runs until March 7. For more information, visit http://www.jewishbookweek.com/.