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Israel-Palestine war: French publisher stops printing Ilan Pappe’s 'Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine' despite surge in sales

Fayard publishing house claims the Israeli author’s contract has expired, but pro-Palestine activists raise concerns about censorship of voices critical of Israel
Ilan Pappe is a historian and University of Exeter academic (MEE)
Ilan Pappe is a historian and University of Exeter academic (MEE)

French publisher Fayard has ceased the publication of the translated edition of a book by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, according to a report by Actualitté website.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (French: Le nettoyage ethnique de la Palestine) by the University of Exeter academic was originally published in English by OneWorld Publications in London.

In it, he writes that the mass expulsion of Palestinians during the creation of Israel was a deliberate and systematic act aimed at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

At the time of its release in 2008, Fayard hailed the book as “a reminder that the resolution of the refugee problem must be the cornerstone of any attempt at peace in the region".

A bookseller in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, Patrick Bobulesco, told the Actualitté website that after the book was sold out at his bookshop, he was not able to order new copies due to the “permanent cessation” of sales by the publisher.

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Middle East Eye has contacted Fayard and OneWorld for comment.

Contacted by Actualitté, Maxime Lledo, Fayard's communications director, said the contract for the title “has expired since 27 February 2022” and that it had not been printing the title since 3 November.

Actualitté pointed out that according to Edistat, which monitors purchases in retail outlets, out of the 307 copies sold this year, 158 were sold between 9 to 15 October and 6 to 12 November, in the aftermath of the 7 October Hamas-led attack on Israel.

The site Révolution permanente, which presents itself as a "revolutionary political organisation", said the decision to discontinue Pappe’s title is part of a "witch hunt" atmosphere currently prevailing in France against "any critical expression towards the Israeli government" since the attack.

The website also cited the detention of Jean-Paul Delescaut, the general secretary of the CGT-Nord 59 departmental union, who was placed in police custody along with a colleague for a solidarity statement with Palestine.

Likewise, Palestinian activist Mariam Abu Daqqa said she was placed under house arrest after visiting France for a series of lectures, with the interior ministry deeming her a "threat to public order". She was later deported to Cairo.

‘Thought police’

On 15 November, the Mediapart website published a letter signed by more than 1,300 researchers and academics, protesting against "intimidation, defamation, and restrictions on scientific speech within universities since the tragic events of 7 October".

It also denounced the "climate of threat that generates fear and self-censorship to the detriment of free expression".

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the indicators of the thought police that has settled in the French academic world for several years, in line with the invention of 'Islamo-leftism' to disqualify certain scientific discourses," the letter added.

In a recent investigation, the newspaper L'Humanité also denounced "the climate of pressures and intimidations that French researchers face when working on Palestine and the Arab world".

The withdrawal of Ilan Pappe's book from sales also coincides, notes Révolution permanente, with the effective takeover of the Hachette publishing group, to which Fayard belongs, by the far-right billionaire Vincent Bolloré.

Ilan Pappe, a contributor to Middle East Eye, is a member of the "new historians" school, recognised for his criticism of Israeli policies towards Palestinians.

Since the 1980s, he has sought to critically reassess the history of the creation of Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

In 2017, he gave an interview to MEE on the occasion of the release of his book "The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories", which he presented as an extension of his previous work, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

"I see the entire project of Zionism as a structure, not as a single event. A colonialist structure through which a settler movement colonises a homeland," he said.

"As long as colonisation is not over and the indigenous population resists through a national liberation movement, every period of this kind that I observe is just a phase within the same structure."

*This article was originally published in French.

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