Friday, September 20, 2019

  • Friday, September 20, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
David Halbfinger in the New York Times writes:

 For three years now, Asmaa Azaizeh has run a popular Arabic-language book festival in Haifa, a mixed city that has become a vibrant culinary and cultural capital for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

But as this year’s festival opens on Friday, it is being held without hundreds of titles Ms. Azaizeh wanted to showcase. Israeli border officials barred them from being imported from Jordan, under an 80-year-old law that predates the existence of the state of Israel.

Arabic translations of George Orwell, James Joyce and William Faulkner; of Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag and Nelson Mandela; of Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Orhan Pamuk, and Agatha Christie were all rejected and sent back to a Jordanian distributor.

The reason? The books were printed in Beirut.

An Israeli law that dates back to World War II-era British Mandatory Palestine forbids trading with the enemy, and Israel applies that policy to Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi publishers, among others.

The books’ content is not the issue, Ms. Azaizeh said. Only the location of the publisher — despite the fact that she was purchasing the books from a company in Jordan, with which Israel does have a peace treaty and trade relations.

The law in question is the British 1939 Trading with the Enemy Act, which defines an enemy as "any State, or Sovereign of a State, at war with His Majesty," among others.

Israel maintained the law upon independence in 1948.

But who is an enemy now? This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

Israel's laws don't formally provide a list of enemies. The closest they have come from two laws.

The 1954 Law against Infiltration lists Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen as countries that could be the source of infiltrators. (Jordan and Egypt were on the list in 1954 but removed after the peace treaties.) This seems to be the source of not allowing books from Lebanon.

The other law is the Citizenship Law, which states that “the Administrative Court may, at the request of the minister of interior, cancel the Israeli citizenship of a person who… perpetrated an act which involves breach of faith to the State of Israel.” It also forbids “obtaining citizenship or the right to settle permanently in" various countries. One of the footnotes updated in 2008 list includes the names of Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and the area of the Gaza Strip. 

This is not a formalized list of enemies, but it is a reasonable working list. From a legal perspective, it is unclear if it is official, though.

Notice that even in 2008 it didn't include Gulf states, Morocco, or Algeria.



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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



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