Amazon removes controversial bestseller about Palestinian history

The Israeli author behind the controversy says that he had “no intention of deceiving anyone.”

June 28, 2017 17:31
2 minute read.
A history of the Palestinian people

A history of the Palestinian people. (photo credit: screenshot)

The Israeli author behind the controversy says that he had “no intention of deceiving anyone.”

Amazon has removed A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era, a book penned by Israeli author, publicist and editor Assaf A. Voll which inspired a heated debate and became a huge Internet sensation two weeks ago.

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The historical account, which reached the impressive second spot on the online shopping site’s list of best-selling books in the category of “Israel and Palestine History” and topped the “Middle East History” section, evoked a lot of fury from many surprised customers.

Why were they so upset? Because the paperback, which is described on the site as “the comprehensive and extensive review of some 3,000 years of Palestinian history,” is actually an empty book. All 120 of its pages are blank.

Voll, the man behind the sensation, told the global pro-Israel organization United with Israel that he had “no intention of deceiving anyone.” Voll says that Amazon sent him a message explaining their decision to remove the book from the site.

According to him, the message stated: “During a quality assurance review of your CSP catalogue, we found that your book(s) are resulting in a disappointing customer experience. Indicators of a poor customer experience may include customer refunds and feedback. As a result, the following book(s) have been removed from sale on Amazon.”

However, Voll and others have speculated that the “poor customer experience” Amazon was referring to in their message was actually the result of pressure that was applied on the site by anti-Israel activists. One such example is the website Welcome to Palestine, the self-described “largest online encyclopedia of Palestine” which published an article called “Amazon removes racist book after international outrage.”

The article claimed that “countless complaints were sent to Amazon.”

Voll fended off claims that his book was deceiving, telling United with Israel that a preview button indicated that the book was devoid of actual content.

“There are other empty books on Amazon,” he said, pointing to another case similar to his. “One of which was even a bestseller that topped the sales table, titled Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide.”

Voll did affirm, however, that he did have to take the heat from people who were not pleased with the misleading manner in which his book was presented on the site.

“I received emails and Twitter messages with curses and accusations, but no threats,” he said.

A query from United with Israel to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos regarding the reason behind the company’s decision to remove the book was answered by a company employee who wrote to the group: “We appreciate your feedback and have forwarded it to the correct team internally.”

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