For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Why they banned his book

by Joh Domingo 


Israel Shamir finds himself in the crosshairs, and it is no surprise. For several years his words have struck as a barb in the Zionist edifice. Not that it could ever have been fatal, but his writing has the annoying characteristic of being literary prose, eloquently slicing and dicing cherished perfidy with consummate ease. That is the trouble with literary prose, it cannot be fact-checked into oblivion, dealing, as it does, with ideas and concepts; philosophy rather than an unending series of patent facts.

This is the reason Shamir finds his books targeted for banning, how else does one combat a concept that examines the Protocols of the Elders of Zion from the standpoint of dispassionately alluding to it as a literary phenomenon, without judging on its authenticity one way or the other? Clearly it can only be done by making the subject taboo, not just the book. How does one combat literary prose? By banning books.

Publishing a book can be an expensive exercise. Someone has to do the numbers, forecast the number of units that is likely to be sold, estimate the break even point, and more often, have a blind faith that expenses will be recovered. A Publisher works on the principle that publishing failures will over time be covered by the successes. If, as in this case, a book attracts more than just input costs, then it becomes a publishing disaster. Targeting publishers of books in the way Al Qalam has been is designed to ensure that the words of Shamir, or any similar screed, is unlikely to be published again, without the publisher having serious misgivings about doing so.

It therefore has the effect of causing the opposition to self-censor. Control by fear.

A campaign to control by fear relies on creating an example by selecting its targets carefully. Preferably someone who finds themselves somewhat alienated from their erstwhile colleagues due to minor differences of opinion. In this way, the target can be represented to have strayed far from the fold, and be deserving of his fate – the herd mentality. Like mourners at a funeral; they are inexplicably happy, grateful that it is not them lying in the casket. If they target too many, or target someone close to the center of the herd, they run the risk of exposing themselves as manipulators and oppressors for all to see.

Examined in this light, it is not difficult to understand why Israel Shamir has been targeted. Far from hating jews, he is not afflicted with excessive Judeophilia. Philo-Semitism afflicts many good people on our side of the struggle. Shamir wants Jews to be regarded in the same way as other people on this planet. It is a call for equality with others. Unfortunately, one of the primary characteristics identifying philo-Semitism is a hyper-sensitivity towards any critique of Jewish people, even in the abstract. Shamir’s characterization of Judeophiles as a capitalized ‘Jews’ is an easy target, as it lends itself to being mis-characterized as an attack on ‘jews per se’. It is no defense for Shamir to explain himself in this regard; it is enough that he used the word ‘Jews’.

Equally damning, is Shamir’s use of literary imagery that draws liberally from concepts first enunciated by other thinkers; particularly the idea that being a ‘Jew’ is a matter of choice first posited by Isaac Deutscher, a Jew of the Trotskyite persuasion. It is determined that he tells ‘tales’ that incite the reader to hatred. True, a storyteller tells '‘tales’, and Shamir is nothing if not a storyteller, but stories are moral fables, and contain explicit messages that lead to obvious conclusions. Shamir liberally uses the technique of re-telling existing fables, in order to explain current events. That the tales reflect quite badly on current behavior is a result that is difficult to combat, if you are the one being examined against the yardstick of the tale. People might even begin to hate you, if they are so inclined. But Shamirs intention is quite the opposite, it is to win converts from the perpetrators of such behavior. He does after all believe that being a ‘Jew’ is a matter of choice, as does Isaac Deutcher. This theme is quite evident to anyone reading the Flowers of Galilee.

But the argument is not that it is evident to readers of the Flowers of the Galilee, but that phrases could be de-coupled from their context, and shown to be ‘teeming with incitement to hatred’. Hence the need to protect the ordinary people, who are not intellectual researchers, who may buy the book in the French equivalent of Mary Ryan’s Family Bookstores.

It is ridiculous stuff, but one that will nonetheless induce paranoia into the publishing community in France, if not elsewhere. What yardstick will they use when weighing the wisdom of publishing a book that contains criticisms of Israel, the ‘Jews’, or even Zionism? Indeed, one of the comments by the presiding judge was to explain the ‘warlike discourse’ of comparing Israeli society with Apartheid. Far from pretending that France is an open society, this judgement will ensure that French publishing will for the foreseeable future be even more closed than before.

Shamir has been the favored target of jewish anti-Zionist activist for a few years now. Philo-Semites to a man, and woman, they decry his analysis of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. It is too close to the bone for them, preferring, as they do, to pretend that they are Palestinians in Jewish skins, and that they therefore know what is good for the Palestinians, and they tell them so uninterruptedly. They insist that the problem is a bilateral one, and that the status quo can only be solved by a joint Palestinian/Jewish approach. The modus operandi of the struggle must therefore exclude any rhetoric that can be deemed hostile to Jewish sensibilities. Shamir’s tales obviously fail the kosher test, and he must perforce be excluded from the discourse.

This artificial construct requires that those forming this integrated opposition must be extracted from the societies that are directly affected – Palestinians and Jews, not Israelis, bringing together people with their own unique set of in-built complexes that continues to manifest itself it the anti-Zionist discourse. Because the matyrological jewish complex is so strong, it has the effect of producing a western anti-Zionist discourse in which jewish activists do the talking, and Palestinians the listening.

The discourse is therefore heavily flavored by argument about whether this-or-that is ‘anti-Semitic’ or not. This is always unproductive, and participants waste lots of time in internal mudslinging. This lack of common identification manifest itself in constant internal strife. It is not unsurprising that Jewish Supremacist have noted this schism and that Shamir, as a consistent target of the philo-Semite faction, has been subject to attack, and action to ban his books taken. It is expected that few anti-Zionist will spring to his defense. It is classic divide and rule tactics.

I wonder then, if erstwhile ‘anti-Zionist’ will rally to cause against Zionist, or remain silent in the belief that Shamir deserves it?