FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Banned in the U.S.A. (Almost)

I didn’t think America was a place where bookstores barred people for their viewpoints, until it happened to me, right here in Washington, D.C., the city of my birth.

I was scheduled to speak at Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse last month about my latest book, “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.” My appearance was canceled when the bookstore owners realized that my book concludes by questioning the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead it proposes a single democratic, secular and multicultural state in which Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully as citizens with equal rights.

“I do not believe that your book will further constructive debate in the United States,” one of the owners wrote to me in an e-mail. “A single state is not a solution.” I was dismayed that my invitation was rescinded because I express a different point of view from the one sanctioned by a supposedly independent bookstore. Yet the cancellation seems to fit into a larger pattern of nationwide censorship about this issue.

Stanford professor Joel Beinin had been invited to speak about Israel and Palestine at a Silicon Valley school last year; his appearance was canceled when the school was criticized for booking the event. Tony Judt of New York University was invited to speak about Israel and Palestine at the Polish Consulate in New York last fall; his talk was canceled after the consulate came under pressure from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

The fact that senior scholars are prevented from speaking in well-known forums because they do not toe an official line suggests that the civic culture on which our country was founded has broken down, at least when it comes to Palestine and Israel.

Yet citizens can object to the muzzling of ideas. After receiving letters of protest and eloquent entreaties by bloggers, Politics and Prose decided last week to reissue my invitation. This reversal is an important step forward but questions still linger. Can we afford not to hear each other out as we evaluate our Middle East policies? Should Palestinians not be allowed to speak unless their erstwhile audience gets to tell them what to say? What, then, is the point of a conversation? What is the alternative to conversation?

What is so unspeakably wrong with saying that justice, secularism, tolerance and equality of citizens — rather than privileges granted on the basis of religion — should be among the values of a state?

SAREE MAKDISI is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Saree Makdisi’s latest book is Palestine Inside Out.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail