I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
I’m very sad to say that the Manchester launch of my Leila Khaled biography, which was due to take place a week on Thursday, has been cancelled. A very shaken staff member called me earlier to say that the shop had been subjected to a deluge of phone harassment since opening this morning, and that they simply could not cope. As a mainstream bookshop, Blackwell’s hasn’t experienced anything like this (or not for a very long time – I seem to remember tales of someone trying to firebomb it over another controversial title, but that was in the 1980s!) and they are simply not equipped to cope.
This is, of course, immensely disappointing, but I absolutely do not blame Blackwell’s for taking this decision, and they have been incredibly kind about it (I feel rather guilty about not foreseeing this and for putting their very sweet but rather literary staff through this!). It is, of course, a measure of the desperate rearguard action which apologists for the actions of the State of Israel are currently fighting that they feel the need to close down all debate and discussion of issues around Palestinian history, politics and culture. It’s also worth noting that some of the callers hadn’t even bothered to properly find out what the event was – they thought that Leila Khaled herself was planning to appear, something which is currently impossible because she is denied visas by the UK government. But it is revealing that Zionist campaigners are happy to close something down when they don’t even know what it is.
The book is, of course, still very much available from publishers Pluto directly as well as through most bookshops, virtual or real.