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 I was dismayed that my invitation was rescinded because I express a different point of view from the one sanctioned by a supposedly independent bookstore.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.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Craig Collins
Why Did Socialism Fail?
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposal Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail