Israel-Hamas war impacts Frankfurt Book Fair

Picture: Deutsche Welle, Hannes P Albert/dpa/picture alliance

As the Frankfurt Book Fair prepares to open its doors on Wednesday to around 6,000 media representatives, current developments in Israel and Gaza are impacting the world’s largest publishing trade event.

Repercussions could already be felt last Friday when the organizers of the LiBeraturpreis, a German award recognizing a female author from the Global South, announced that the award ceremony for Palestinian author Adania Shibli — set to take place during the book fair — would be postponed.

In an unrelated statement, Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos officially denounced the “barbaric” assault by Hamas and said that the event “stands with complete solidarity on the side of Israel.” He also pledged to feature more Israeli voices during the event.

In response, a number of organizations from predominantly Muslim countries have withdrawn from the fair.

Among them is the Indonesian Publishers Association, the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Book Authority, the Emirates Publishers Association and the Arab Publishers’ Association in Egypt, according to press agency AFP.

The organizers’ decision to “take sides and give Israel a platform has undermined the ideals of dialogue and efforts to build mutual understanding,” the Indonesian Publishers Association said in a statement on its website.

The chairperson of the Indonesian Publishers Association, Arys Hilman Nugraha, said in the statement, “Siding with Israel while forgetting the suffering of the Palestinian people is like reading only one book to feel like you understand the whole world.”

Some 231 million people in Indonesia consider themselves Muslims making it the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The education ministry in Malaysia also told AFP it was pulling out from the Frankfurt book fair, citing the organizers’ “pro-Israel stance.”


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