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Friday, February 16, 2024

British-Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie loses German Awards for being anti-Israel

Association with pro-Palestine movements caused Kamila Shamsie to forgo literary award and a handsome cash prize. Moreover, she refuses to get her books published by any Israeli publishing house.

German Literary Authority is reconsidering their award for British-Pakistani novelist, Kamila Shamsie owing to her support for the Pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement.

Shamsie was announced the winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize, named after Jewish poet and Nobel Laureate with the award being organized and funded by the city of Dortmund, on September 10th.

A spokesperson of the Dortmund City Council confirmed the jury is considering to rescind its decision to award Kamila Shamsie following German blogger’s objections on the author’s unflinching support for BDS Movement. The spokesperson further added that the jury members were not aware of Kamila Shamsie’s endorsement of the BDS Movement when they gave her the Nelly Sachs Award.

The biennial award is given to an author whose work reflects, “Tolerance, respect and reconciliation,” with winners receiving 15,000 euros ($16,500) cash prize.

Kamila Shamsie was among the 100 writers and intellectuals, who were the signatory of the open letter published in Guardian calling for the cultural boycott of Israel.

In a statement released on September 11th, Dortmund city council stated: “At the time of the decision, none of the jurors knew that Kamila Shamsie had supported the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign in the past.” Adding that the final decision is expected to be made within days, with the prize to be formally awarded in December.

BDS Movement

The BDS Movement, a pressure group created in 2005 by Palestinian activists, seeks to support the imposition of economic sanctions on Israel to enforce it to stop human rights abuses in Palestine.

The German Parliament has disapproved the BDS Movement in a motion passed condemning the rights movement as anti-Semitic. The German Parliament accused BDS of employing “patterns and methods” used by Nazis during the Holocaust. BDS Movement retaliated to the condemnation and alleged Germany of “complicity in Israel’s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege, and apartheid.”

Kamila Shamsie’s Response

Kamila Shamsie expressed her delight over receiving the Nelly Sachs Prize. “I am quite clear that there is no contradiction between supporting BDS and receiving this award,” she said.

She added that the announcement of award coincided with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political assertions of annexing the one-third of the Occupied West Bank, part of his electoral campaign.

Read more: Israel-India nexus: History reveals an Anti-Islamist alliance

A right-wing Ruhrbarone political blog on Kamila Shamsie’s support for BDS campaign evoked the discourse in Germany on her award, which led to the jury rescinding their decision to award the author. The blog post had accused the jurors of “supporting the destruction of Israel” and cited Shamsie’s refusal of her work to be translated in Hebrew and published in Israel.

Shamsie asserted that “I’ve refused to have my books published by any publishing houses in Israel who aren’t BDS compliant – and unfortunately that appears to be all publishing houses in Israel.”

Kamila Shamsie was among the 100 writers and intellectuals, who were the signatory of the open letter published in Guardian calling for the cultural boycott of Israel.