Sunday, June 20, 2010

Still No Response to Mankell’s Hebrew Language Boycott

The blog “Norway Israel and the Jews” recently reported the that Norwegian author and Journalist Bjørn Gabrielsen is now criticizing the silence surrounding the Swedish author Henning Mankell’s decision to consider a boycott of the Hebrew language.

The full article (translated into Swedish from the Norwegian daily Dagens Næringsliv) is in the Swedish tabloid Expressen

I recently published a post discussing Henning Mankell’s decision to boycott Hebrew as a response to Israel’s actions in the Ship to Gaza operation. Mankell was one of the ten Swede’s who decided to travel alongside other “peace” activists, some of whom, having declared their intent to become martyrs,  staged a jihadist armed ambush on the Israeli soldiers. 
The question which Gabrielsson asked in Expressen is why none of Mankell’s fellow authors in Sweden have reacted to his foolish boycott of the Hebrew language?

According to Gabrielsen, who is also a literature critic and columnist in Dagens Næringsliv, it is strange that not one single writer in Sweden has reacted after Mankell, one of Sweden’s most famous authors, (not sure he can be considered Sweden's most famous author) has said he doesn’t want his books to be translated into Hebrew. Gabrielsson continues:

“One can hope that the silence amongst his colleagues is a cautious response or frozen hesitation. But from the outside, the silence looks more like an acceptance of Mankell’s thoughts. If Henning Mankell’s first impulse would have been to give the proceeds from Israeli readers and publishers to charities he would have managed to keep some kind of dignity as an author of good will and humanitarian interest. To boycott a language is something completely different—it is the most violent thing an author can do within the framework of his profession.”

There are further problems with his aims of boycotting the Hebrew language, Gabrielsson notes.  For example, will the boycott go both ways?  Maybe Swedes could ask if the borrowed words from Hebrew (there are a few, after all) should be banned from the Swedish language?  Words like for example “amen” and “hallelujah”?  Or would the boycott necessitate a ban of references to biblical texts and Jewish authors? How would Mankell get additional information about how horrible Israel is without the benefit of Hebrew-speaking journalists?

It is clear that Mankell hasn’t thought through the actual consequences of boycotting the entirety of the Hebrew language. It is embarrassing that Swedish authors does not take a stance against Mankell, especially when he admitted [in a statement he gave to Der Spiegel] that “his knowledge about the conflict is limited”.  Then, to add insult to injury, Mankell stubbornly expands his ignorance by making dramatic demands of the Israelis while at the same time refusing to communicate with them. 

Gabrielsson argues correctly that it is plain stupid of Mankell to refuse the opportunity to be able to speak to readers through his writings, including one million Hebrew-speaking Arabs. It is inexcusable for a so-called liberal to discard the option of meaningful dialogue to achieve reconciliation—shame on Mankell for choosing the path of irrational hatred and ignorant bigotry.

1 comment:

  1. Now we know where to put all the Palestinians after the next battle!