Writer answers BDS call, refuses to sell translation rights to Hillary Clinton biography
Left-wing journalist Doug Henwood recently refused to sell the translation rights to his new biography of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, entitled My Turn, to the Israeli publishing firm Probook Dyonon Publishing House.
His refusal is indeed in response to the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions against Israel, he said to Palestine in America.
According to Henwood, his publisher, John Oakes of OR Books, reached out to Eitan Singer of Probook Dyonon without his permission in order to sell the rights to translate the book into Hebrew. In email correspondence between Oakes and Singer, Oaks quickly retracted his offer after speaking to Henwood.
Despite the fact that OR Books has not previously encountered a situation like Henwood’s, it stood by the writer.
“We support Doug Henwood in his decision; we believe authors have a right to determine the disposition of their work, and regard our relationship with our authors as fundamentally a cooperative one,” John Oakes told Palestine in America.
Following Henwood’s decision, Oaks wrote to Singer:
“Dear Eitan, I am more embarrassed than you can imagine…the author of the book participates in the boycott against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians, and therefore does not want to sell the rights. My sincere apologies.”
Singer received the email only a day after Oaks suggested a bid be made for the translation rights, Singer told Israel Hayom.
“Boycotts, silencing people, or refusing to acknowledge different opinions go against the very nature of the publishing world. Freedom of expression trumps everything….In the publishing field, the freedom of speech is the most appreciated value. In this boycott, the author is acting with an hypocritical attitude. He himself is expressing views in the free world, but preventing others from sharing them,” Singer said.
The BDS movement has received wide criticism for alleged attacks on freedom of expression, much like the concern voiced by Singer.
For example, as laid out in the joint report by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, campuses throughout the U.S. have seen systematic attempts to infringe on the right to freedom of speech of many Palestine solidarity activists, especially during their divestment campaigns.
University of California Regent Richard Blum has publicly advocated for tighter restrictions of Palestine activism, pushing an enforcement of censorship that would result in expulsions and suspensions of any student to criticize the state of Israel’s actions. Blum, married to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, even threatened that his wife would publicly denounce the University if it didn’t consider this flagrant attempt to shut down criticism of Israel on UC’s campuses.
Even on campuses outside the U.S., the same exceptions to free speech are witnessed. According to a statement by McGill University’s Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), “Freedom of speech is a core Canadian value that has been enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and perhaps much to politicians’ dismay, that does not only mean the protection of popular speech,” responding to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s condemnation of their campaign in lieu of freedom of speech.