I was intrigued by the appended posting, largely because of an exchange
several years ago about "Israeli censorship of Arabic literature" and how
it affected libraries within Israel and the West Bank. The posting accused
Israel of banning the import of books from the Arab world and those cutting
off Arabic readers from their own culture.  As I recall, the tone of the
posting was so extreme  – something along the lines of Israel's war on
Palestinian libraries – that I decided to investigate.

As with many of the accusations against Israel, there was a grain of truth
to the story but the facts, as usual, are more complicated.  Lebanon is the
powerhouse of publishing in the Arab-speaking world but, because Lebanon
and Israel are still in a declared state of war, all imports from Lebanon
to Israel are prohibited.  However, the one exception Israel allows are
books.  And Israel doesn't censor or prohibit import material in Arabic
generally.  But because items from Lebanon are generally prohibited,
imports are delayed and there is a premium and mark-up on books imported
into Israel.  The delay in access and extra cost is the crux of the
accusation of censorship.

Ironically, the reverse situation is more extreme.  The state of war
between to the two countries gives rise to a long list of anti-Israel
measures in Lebanon.  All correspondence or contact with Israelis is
prohibited.  In one case reported in the press, a Lebanese scientist
speaking at an international conference refused to answer a question from
an Israeli colleague because to do so could have lead to his arrest when he
returned home.  Foreigners with Israel entry stamps in their passports can
be refused entry to Lebanon. Israeli books are completely banned in Lebanon
and Anne Frank's diary is banned because it supports the case for Israel.

Of course, the fact that Israel makes an exception to allow book imports
means nothing to those whose bias leads them to condemn everything Israel
does.  Nor do such people want us to know about the bigger picture if it
puts Israel's actions in a positive light. Subsequently, in the past, the
American Library Association has passed resolutions condemning Israel for
censorship based on similar evidence and at the same time refused to
consider resolutions addressing acts of terrorism directed at libraries and
schools, even when ALA members have been victims.  Even though I remain a
staunch defender of progressive causes, I'm a skeptic when "progressives"
try to address the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I mention this in relation to the announced CFP from Progressive Librarian.
If you look at the description in the entry at the attached link, the
editors make it clear they are looking for papers critical of Israel, its
policies or actions. Specifically, they are asking for articles describing

... how the occupation or a particular Israeli policy has made it difficult
to provide information.  For example, a paper might discuss the history of
the confiscation of Palestinian archives, the history of the destruction of
Palestinian libraries, restrictions on the import of books from “enemy

There is obviously no room in the "progressive" world for facts or
narratives that challenge their  prejudices.  Why else are "progressives"
silent about the comparative treatment of women, the LGBT community or
non-Muslims in the Muslim world versus Israel?  I wonder what someone
studying their library experience honestly would write.  The bias of this
CPF is a professional journal is evident to me, but irrelevant to a
community that assumes the worst of Israel.  I'd encourage anyone with the
knowledge and inclination to submit papers challenging this bias but I'm
sure it would be a waste of time.  The editors have already made it clear
that their purpose is not to tell the whole story, only what will justify
their biases.

Lee Jaffe

From: Hasafran <hasafran@lists.osu.edu>
To: hasafran@lists.osu.edu
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2018 12:04:48 -0400
Subject: [ha-Safran] CFP: “Palestinian Libraries and Archives Under Israeli

CFP: “Palestinian Libraries and Archives Under Israeli Rule” - Theme issue
of Progressive Librarian
Call for Papers
Theme issue of Progressive Librarian
“Palestinian Libraries and Archives Under Israeli Rule”

The publication Progressive Librarian: A Journal for Critical Studies and
Progressive Politics in Librarianship invites Palestinian information
providers to submit papers for a special issue, “Palestinian Libraries and
Archives Under Israeli Rule.” Papers accepted for this special issue may
also be republished later in a book on this topic.

More information:

Messages and opinions expressed on Hasafran are those of the individual author
and are not necessarily endorsed by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL)
Submissions for Ha-Safran, send to:
To join Ha-Safran, update or change your subscription, etc. - click here: 
Questions, problems, complaints, compliments send to: galro...@osu.edu
Ha-Safran Archives:
Earlier Listserver:
AJL HomePage http://www.JewishLibraries.org
Hasafran mailing list

Reply via email to