Tariq Ali has decided not to participate in the Turin Book Fair. He argues:
When I agreed to participate in the Turin Book Fair, which I have done before, I had no idea that the 'guest of honour' was Israel and its 60th birthday. But this is also the 60th anniversary of what the Palestinian call the 'nakba'the disaster that befell them that year, when they were expelled from their villages, some killed, women raped by the settlers. These facts are no longer disputed. So why did the Turin Book Fair not invite Palestinians in equal numbers? 30 Israeli writers and 30 Palestinian writers (and I promise you they exist and are very fine poets and novelists) might have been seen as a positive and peaceful gesture and a positive debate might have taken place.
Well I can think of many reasons why I will not be going to the Turin Book Fair. Some of them :
1. The Delhi Book Fair just concluded and the sight of rows of millions of books stacked up was enough for me for a year
2. I did not know there was a Turin Book Fair
3. In my present financial state I cannot afford the connecting flight from Rome
4. I am not invited
While it does make sense when celebreties refuse awards or recognitions conferred on them by political groups that they do not agree with, the kind of stand Mr. Ali has taken really does not help. Would it have made more sense to go to the event and lodge his protest in a public meeting?
Sometimes it seems to me that the protest is more about being in news rather than about the issues itself.