Yet the Israeli equivalent, the Jerusalem International Book Forum, gets full coverage
Okay, so I’m late with this story – the Palestine International Book Fair started last Wednesday. But then, I’m in The Gambia beholden to a spectacularly incompetent ISP that can’t guarantee me a signal from one second to the next.
But what excuse does the rest of the industry media have for blanking the Palestine IBF?
If the search engine of Publishing Perspectives is to be believed, the Palestine IBF hasn’t been covered in that esteemed internationally-focussed trade journal since 2017.
By contrast the Jerusalem International Book Forum got four separate posts this year alone in Publishing Perspectives, and warranted six posts in 2021.
The Palestine International Book Fair is of course held in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and while it’s not yet clear what the situation is this year, in past years Israel has actively blocked writers and publishers from other countries attending the Palestine event.
It’s not just Palestine. Publishing Perspectives has a fickle approach towards most Arab publishing events that don’t sponsor posts or put on a forceful showing at the Frankfurt Buchmesse.
No mention of Jordan’s Aman international Book Fair which wound up a few days ago. (Okay, so none here at TNPS either this time around, but Porter Anderson doesn’t have to guess when he’ll have an internet connection).
But for Palestine the sticking point is likely to be the international book fair slogan “Palestine is the homeland, Jerusalem is the capital”. Not something the State of Israel or its junior section the Muncipality of Jerusalem wants to acknowledge.
And not something it seems Publishing Perspectives wants to acknowledge.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in 2012 Ed Nawotka ran features like “Has western Publishing Silenced the Palestinian Story?“
Those were the days. In the 2020s Publishing Perspectives still carries the occasional human rights story and of course champions freedom of expression – so long as it’s not in Palestine.
For the record, 350 publishers and 150 authors are participating in the 12th Palestine International Book Fair right now, and Tunisia is the official Guest of Honour. Sixteen countries are represented, but (allowing for my lousy internet so it may be more) only Italy and Canada are from outside MENA.
One would hope, in the continuing fight for freedom to publish, that an event like the Palestine International Book Fair might be celebrated for actually happening each year in conditions few western industry journalists, publishers and authors can imagine.
But the evidence suggests otherwise.