neither normal nor decent to commemorate Israel when Israeli state and government policies in the devastated occupied territories are clear for all to see.
Countries are invited, I believe, as guests of honour to celebrate their literature not their politics, the clue being in the words ‘book fair’. If politics should determine the nationality of the writers invited, will Tariq Ramadan boycott the fair next year when Egypt will be the guest?
Funnily enough, there’s a book fair going on in Cairo right now, which I understand is the most important in the Arab world. Guess what! The Egyptian police have seized boxes of books deemed subversive or immoral, such as For bread alone by Mohamed Choukri, The unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera etc. Last year, according to Al-Jazeera you could buy editions of the Mein Kampf and other “anti-Christian polemics advocating conversion to Islam as the only solution to a flawed religion”. No protest there.
By the way, Palestinian writers have been invited but turned down the invite. Aside from the rather crucial fact that the book fair is not a political event, Israeli writers such as Amos Oz, Abraham Yehoshua and David Grossman have demonstrated great commitment towards dialogue and peace even in the face of personal tragedy as in the case of David Grossman, who lost his son in the last Lebanon war. What is there to boycott exactly?