The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

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.)