Anthology shelved in racism row

03/06/2012 18:14


In the latest round of cultural violence against Israel, an anthology of Middle Eastern women’s writing has been shelved.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas had intended to publish the anthology as a tribute to a colleague who died in 2008.

However, one of the contributing writers threatened to withdraw her work from the book unless the publishers omitted the work of Israeli writers.

The publishers rightly refused her demand on the grounds that excluding the Israelis did not meet academic standards.

It became clear that that publication of the book would have to be cancelled when more than a dozen Arab women authors withdrew their work.

It is ironic that the contributors boycotted the book when Israel is the only place in the Middle East where women have equal rights.

It reminds me of another act of self-defeating cultural violence that took place in the UK last month.

Israel’s Habima theatre, which was in London to perform the Merchant of Venice at the Globe, was publicly shunned by several well-known television performers, including Emma Thompson.

The performance went ahead, although there some protests and interruptions.

Habima’s crime was to have played a couple of dates in Ariel, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Of course, the fact that Habima has an Arab-Israeli theatre in Jaffa is of no interest to Israel bashers.