Israel’s literary conference

The World

The First Annual Palestinian Festival of Literature took place across the Territories and had an impressive guest list. At an evening reading, the discussion first focused on art but in Bethlehem, a city which is blocked in by the Israel wall barrier, but the audience’s questions eventually turned to politics and then weren’t even questions. Many in the audience asked how literature could be used to aid the Palestinian cause. For many of the writers this is their first trip to the region and their introduction to the politics of the region. This Irish writer says the trip was an eye opener for him. Israel then opened its first international literature conference and had its own world class guest list. At one event, South African writer Nadine Gordimer addressed questions of why she came despite pressure to boycott the event and she said her coming here was giving credence and approval to what was happening in the occupied territories and reminds her of the way people were treated in South Africa. But she said she had to come to support the idea of dialogue. The questions here also turned into political statements. It was impossible to avoid the subject of the conflict which this Israeli writer said seeps into all his work.

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