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Monday, 8 April 2013

Why Are We Reading ‘Back to the Future’ Tributes For This Dying Man?

On a day when the death of Margaret Thatcher has eclipsed all other news, I write of an increasing and markedly unhealthy trend for adulatory obituaries to people who are still alive.

IIain.Bankst’s happened again in the past few days following the sad news that Scots novelist, Iain Banks (a.k.a. Iain M Banks) is suffering terminal cancer and may die before the end of the year. Like everyone else, particularly as a fellow writer of the same age, I earnestly hope he beats his doctors’ prognoses and continues to live and work far in to the future.

Banks is highly esteemed both for his mainstream fiction and his sci fi stories. He also has a highly developed social conscience and arranged that his books were not sold in South Africa during the rule of the previous  apartheid regime. Indeed, when some were sold there under the terms of  an old contract, he donated  the royalties accrued to the ANC.

Most commendable. However, we now learn learn from an extracted article published in The Guardian on Friday last week, that he also supports the  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and since 2010 has refused to have his books published here.

His decision followed Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, a passenger ferry which was part of a six ship flotilla organised by the Free Gaza Movement, an international coalition of activist groups attempting to send aid to Gaza and on which at least nine people were killed.

Israel is still suffering the fallout from the incident, during which I believe the military behaved stupidly, not heinously. Armed personnel could have scuppered, instead of charging a couple of the vessels involved, towed them ashore and arrested the passengers.

Once on dry land they would have proved conclusively that the vessels were carrying not only passengers and humanitarian aid but an array of most vicious weapons. Mavi.Marmara.Weapons

However Banks prefers not to dwell on the reality. He simply sees Israel as worthy of punishment by the international community just as “it engages in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people within Israel, and the occupied territories, that is, the West Bank and – especially – the vast prison camp that is Gaza.”

As someone with dual UK-Israeli citizenship living in The Galilee I can assure Banks – like I’ve done scores of time before on this site – that his assertions are ridiculously false. But I don’t aim to wade through the tarradiddle again. Instead, in the manner of another famous Scot -  journalist, John Junor - I simply want ask some pertinent questions:

  • Why is Banks using what may be his final months on earth to attack Israel? Should he not concentrate on keeping as healthy as possible under the trying circumstances?
  • Away from writing, should he not confine himself to seeking comfort from family and friends?
  • If he wants to make the world a better place before he goes, why  attack Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East? Surely The Guardian would allow him to write about whatever he wished.
  • Moreover, why choose to publish a piece written for a collection edited by someone else?
  • Further, why not only pick on Israel but choose to air his grievances on the eve of the weekend that the Jewish State was preparing for Yom Hashoa – Holocaust Memorial Day?
  • Was this scenario not uncannily reminiscent of The Times newspaper publishing a Gerald Scarfe cartoon conflating the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process with the anti-Jewish blood libel on International Holocaust Day?
  • And why be so patronising about Israeli (really Jewish) sporting capabilities as compared to citizens’ cultural and intellectual prowess? Does he not know of Jewish athletes like the US swimmer, Mark Spitz and the British sprinter Harold Maurice Abrahams (featured in the film Chariots of Fire)? Has he not learned of the Jewish boxers who literally fought their way out of  ghettoes like the Glasgow tenements?
  • And why indeed has he allowed his publishers to announce his illness ahead of the launch of what may be his last book?
  • Surely a man like Banks is not seeking a way to compensate for potential royalties lost from sales in South Africa and Israel? Such thinking would be total anathema to someone of such integrity – of course!
  • And why, as I conclude, do I read that the annual report of Tel Aviv University's Kantor Centre for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry has noted a staggering thirty per cent rise in antisemitism during 2012?
  • So why do I smell a rat?
  • Why indeed?

Something to view when Israel haters accuse the IDF of killing the nine Free Gaza Movement members in cold blood

 

msniw

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