Censorship in Beirut

From the WSJ, through the Literary Saloon, comes this recent post about censorship in Beirut (the writer points out how ironic it is that so many books are banned there given that Beirut has been named UNESCO's 2009 "World Book Capital City.") I am researching censorship in the Middle East at the moment and would love to hear from any readers who are knowledgeable on the situation in Lebanon.  

The piece focuses on the ridiculous ban of all works that portray Zionism and or Jews (Sophie's Choice, Schindler's List, works by Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, the TV show The Nanny), but then acknowledges that much banned art work is available anyway in bootleg form. I guess I'm curious as to how effective the ban is, and also, are these Jewish works the bulk of the "banned" list, as the article seems to suggest, or just a fraction? The post says "Writers in Arabic are not exempt," which is hardly surprising, and gives a few examples. 

Two quibbles: the translation of Nagib Mahfouz's Awlad Haritna is "Children of the Alley" (not "The Sons of the Medina"). And while I'm sure there has been interest in the Israeli animated feature "Waltz with Bashir," I am suspicious of claims that it has "became an instant classic in the very Palestinian camps it depicts, because it is the only history the younger generation has," a claim that keeps getting repeated in the Western media..oh, if only the Arab governments wouldn't censore the movie, oppressing young Palestinians with a thirst for history (of which they have none) and understanding! (You can read my take on "Waltz with Bashir" here.)

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.