In May, Sansal participated in the International Book Fair in Jerusalem and as a result he was denounced by Hamas for what was called “an act of treason against the Palestinian people.” The Paris-based Arab Ambassador’s Council joined in the condemnation, and decided to withdraw the prize of the [Editions Gallimard] Arabic Novel Prize [for his book Rue Darwin]. An anonymous donor from Switzerland, who is a fan of Sansal’s work, decided to give Sansal €10,000 as a result of the prize cancelation. Sansal announced that he could not accept such a large donation, and transferred the money to the “Save a Child's Heart” organization that performs life-saving heart surgeries on Palestinian and third-world children.
The boycott against Sansal led to an especially scathing response on the part of French left-wing intellectuals and newspapers, and now the State of Israel is taking Sansal’s side as well. Liberman will meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Brussels. Liberman will ask his French counterpart for France’s support of the Algerian novelist who lives in France, and also ask Fabius to condemn the boycott.
In an interview for [the French newspaper] Libération, Sansal reiterated his central message: that a dialogue between Israel and Arab countries is vital to promote peace. He also accused Arab countries of hypocrisy. On the one hand, they are not at war with Israel and even conduct secret relations with it, but on the other hand they boycott him because of his visit to Israel. When asked if he fears for his life, he said, “nothing can be worse than it is now.”
Sansal also talked about the new initiative he is leading with Israeli novelist David Grossman: a large international gathering of writers for peace. He says that he is flooded by letters of support for his initiative. The European Council already announced its willingness to organize such a gathering.