First, Ian McEwan was attacked by Pro-Palestinian writers for deciding to accept the “corrupt and cynical” Jerusalem prize. Then, when he accepted the prize, McEwan used it as a platform to attack the “great injustice” in Israel.
Addressing his remarks at the opening ceremony of Jerusalem’s international book fair to “Israeli and Palestinian citizens of this beautiful city”, the novelist said: “Hamas has embraced the nihilism of the suicide bomber, of rockets fired blindly into towns, and the nihilism of the extinctionist policy towards Israel.”
But it was also nihilism that fired a rocket at the home of the Gazan doctor, Izzeldin Abuelaish, killing three of his daughters and a niece during the Gazan war. “And it is nihilism to make a long-term prison camp of the Gaza Strip. Nihilism has unleashed a tsunami of concrete across the occupied territories.”
The author referred to “continued evictions and relentless purchases of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the process of the right of return granted to Jews but not to Arabs, the so-called facts on the ground of hardening concrete over the future, over future generations of Palestinian and Israeli children who will inherit the conflict and find it even more difficult to resolve than it is today.”
That probably took a bit of nerve. I liked the notion about:
In the UK, he said, novelists were free to choose how much to write about politics. “Here, for both Israeli and Palestinian novelists, ‘the situation’ is always there … It’s a creative struggle to address it and a creative struggle to ignore it.”
It’s hard to imagine writing under great creative restrictions (even though we sit happily in our genre). Even having this blog and occasionally getting on my soapbox – in other cultures such actions might be difficult to maintain.
Though if we did write and publish under more oppressive regimes, how would the fantasy and science fiction genre be regarded, I wonder? Something that could pose a threat, or something trivial?