Israel’s Colonial Conquest at Mexican Book Fair Draws Protests

Protest Israel’s honoured status at FIL!

Published on 12 November 2013
Written by Connie Hackbarth, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

 Israel was selected as guest of honour at the 2013 Guadalajara International Book Fair/Image: fil.com.mxIsrael was selected as guest of honour at the 2013 Guadalajara International Book Fair/Image: fil.com.mx

Mexico’s Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), slated for 30 November – 8 December, selected Israel as its guest of honour for this year’s event. A hasbara dream for Israel, the fair’s guest of honour “brings to the city its publishing industry and literary presence, as well as the best of its culture, including the performing and visual arts, music, cinema, gastronomy and folklore.” “Each night,” the Fair’s website notes “the Guest of Honour offers a performance at FIL’s Foro as well as several performing venues throughout the city that host events in an effort to display and achieve a transforming experience for the public.”

Prominent intellectuals in Mexico publicly condemned the selection of Israel as guest of honour, writing in the Mexican press that the creation of Israel “caused the tragedy of the Palestinian people, condemned to exile, oppression and dispossession…Coexistence was replaced by a state founded on ethnic and cultural exclusion which has denied the legitimate right of the Palestinians to a state and a territory.”

Signatories of the statement include Néstor Braunstein, an Argentine exile in Mexico and one of Latin America’s most prominent psychoanalysts, and Margit Frenk, the daughter of Jewish German refugees in Mexico and world expert in Spanish literature and Miguel Cervantes. 

Israel understands the importance of this honoured position, which according to fair organisers has over the years “consolidated the Book Fair’s international and multicultural character.” Israeli President Shimon Peres himself will be present to open the Israeli pavilion.

Statement signatories requested that a “pluralistic and representative roundtable on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” be conducted during this year’s fair, and that Palestine be invited as the honoured guest in 2015. It is unclear at this stage if the fair organisers have responded positively to this public request.

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