Saturday, October 30, 2010

Guerilla Publishing Tactics

Egyptian author protests Hebrew translation of novel - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Alaa Al Aswany is fuming because The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information  translated his novel, The Yacoubian Building, against his will, and sent it as a PDF file to the 27,000 people on its email list on the grounds of "expanding cultural awareness."

The funny thing is that in the video above, Dr. Aswany, a dentist, voices how important it is for all the people of the world to cross boundaries, to exchange ideas, to understand each other. Yet although his book has been published in 29 languages, he refuses to let it be translated into Hebrew. So much for cultural dialogue. Or maybe he's sore because this move pre-empts eventual sales in Israel if 'normalization' is ever allowed.

It may be illegal, but I like it! The Egyptian intellectual class is among the most reactionary in the world. They behave in lockstep and audit each others' works so rigorously it would make Stalin proud. After all this is the same crowd that, "... expelled from its ranks the renowned Egyptian playwright Ali Salem. According to the union’s statement, Salem had "visited Israel several times and published a book on those visits, in addition to several articles supporting normalization, which contradicts the general bent of union members and the resolutions of the general assembly in several sessions." Salem had committed the sin of "normalization" —and had done so repeatedly." In 1995 they expelled the Arab world's most famous poet, Adonis, for meeting with Israeli intellectuals at a UNESCO sponsored conference in Spain.

Is it important? Yes, I think so. It is but another illustration of the inability of the Arab world to absorb the fact of Israel. And if the intellectual class cannot, why should the "Arab street" be expected to?

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