The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF), one of the world’s most prominent literary events, has found itself embroiled in controversy after openly expressing support for Israel in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The statement was made through their official social media channels, highlighting a clear stance on the matter.
The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair, known as Frankfurter Buchmesse, used their official social media accounts to declare their solidarity with Israel. In the statement, Director Juergen Boos conveyed the fair’s unwavering support for the Jewish community and the state of Israel.
He stated, “We want to make the Jewish and Israeli voices heard, especially within the book exhibition. Terrorism against Israel contradicts the values upheld by Frankfurter Buchmesse. We stand in solidarity with Israel.”
In a strong condemnation of the Hamas-Israel conflict, Juergen Boos expressed his concerns, saying, “We are deeply alarmed. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and all those affected by this war, those who suffer as a result.”
He continued, “War and terrorism against Israel go against all the principles that Frankfurter Buchmesse holds dear. Frankfurter Buchmesse has always been about humanity, with a constant focus on peaceful and democratic discourse. This humanity has once again been shattered by the attacks on Israel by Hamas terrorists.”
Following the unequivocal pro-Israel and Jewish statement, Juergen Boos announced the cancellation of a concert by Israeli artists Liraz and Rita. Additionally, the Frankfurt Book Fair plans to organize various programs to voice their support for Israel.
The FBF, together with representatives of the Jewish community in Germany, including Meron Mendel, and writer Lizzie Doron, who resides in Tel Aviv and Berlin, will hold an event called “Out of Concern for Israel” in the Frankfurt Pavilion.
In response to this public endorsement of Israel, the Indonesian Publishers Association (IKAPI) expressed its disapproval. In an official statement, IKAPI stated, “IKAPI rejects the position of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which supports and provides a broader platform for Israel this year, condemns the cancellation of awards to Palestinian authors, and withdraws from participating in the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023, abstaining from the opening ceremony and canceling several events.”
Malaysia has also withdrawn its participation in the 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair, citing the organizers’ pro-Israel stance amidst the global divide over the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision came after literary association Litprom postponed an award ceremony for a novel by a Palestinian author following the deadly attack by Hamas in Israel on Saturday (7 Oct).
Malaysia’s education ministry responded by declaring its refusal to compromise with Israel’s actions in Palestine, which it believes violate international laws and human rights. It stated, “The decision to withdraw aligns with the government’s stance to stand in solidarity and offer full support for Palestine.”
Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, has consistently supported the Palestinian cause. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim rejected Western pressure to condemn Hamas, and on Tuesday (17 Oct), he called for an immediate halt to the Gaza bombardment and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor following a conversation with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The Frankfurt Book Fair’s public support for Israel has ignited a global conversation about the intersection of literature, politics, and the ongoing Middle East conflict, leaving many to ponder the fair’s role as a platform for international dialogue.
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