German city rescinds literary prize to author due to BDS

British-Pakistani writer rejected Hebrew translation of her books

September 18, 2019 20:00
1 minute read.
The BDS movement seeks to destroy Israel’s image in the eyes of the world.’

‘INSTEAD OF fighting the Israeli army on the battlefield or killing civilians through acts of terrorism, the BDS movement seeks to destroy Israel’s image in the eyes of the world.’. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The city of Dortmund’s jury for the Nelly Sachs literature prize pulled the plug on its award for a British-Pakistani author on Wednesday because she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state.

The author, Kamila Shamsie, also rejects translations of her books into Hebrew because it involves the State of Israel, she claimed.

According to a statement from the jury, at the time of voting for the award,  “the members of the jury, despite previous research, were not aware that the author since 2014 has participated in the boycott of the Israeli government because of  its Palestinian policy.”

The jury added that it "decided to cancel their original vote and take back the award to Kamila Shamsie. Kamila Shamsie's political stance to actively participate in the boycott of culture as part of the BDS campaign against the Israeli government is in clear contradiction to the goals of the awards and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize."

The Ruhrbarone news website first broke the story this month about the city’s award to Shamsie, triggering widespread media coverage.

The prize is named for poet and playwright Nelly Sachs (1891-1970)  who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1966.

The 15,000 euro prize is awarded to authors who advance “tolerance, respect and reconciliation.”

The Bundestag classified BDS as antisemitic in May.

“With the cultural boycott, no boundaries are overcome, but it hits the entire society of Israel, regardless of their actual political and cultural heterogeneity," The jury noted in its statement. "The work of Kamila Shamsie is thus withheld from the Israeli population. On the whole, this contrasts with the claim of the Nelly Sachs Prize to proclaim and exemplify reconciliation among peoples and cultures.”

The jury decided not to award the biannual prize this year; the next prize will therefore be awarded in 2021.

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