Atwood's Mea Culpa on Israel

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Atwood's Mea Culpa on Israel

Margaret Atwood has a [url= published in Haaretz dated June 2.  It mentions "killing aid-bringers on ships in international waters" so it seems to have been written after the attack on the Gaza flotilla.  As babblers will recall, Atwood accepted a controversial Israeli cultural prize this year in the face of Palestinian requests to boycott it.

The article is very strange, and seems to be part mea culpa, part "speaking truth to power".

In it, Atwood appears to be saying that her understanding of Israel had basically been frozen in 1956 (when she had attended a model UN parliament).  She also says that of late her mind has been on environmental disasters, and so was nearly vacant on Middle Eastern matters.

Then, after accepting said prize she says she was suddenly "thrown into the soup pot" of present-day politics.  But as for these politics -- is Israeli an apartheid state? is calling it that "de-legitimatizing"? -- Atwood dismisses them as university debating club stuff.  How could she be expected to understand it?

It's quite a defense.  Simultaneously Atwood paints herself as naive about what was happening in the Middle East, but also, from her lofty position as a non-academic writer grappling with ecological catastrophe, above them.  This is why she took that prize.

As for the rest of the article:  it's a plea to the master to stop kicking his slave in the face.  You're going to kill him!  (and hurt your foot in the process).

Honestly, this piece reminds me of Michael Ignatieff's mea culpa in the NY Times about the Iraq War.  Though, of course Atwood's is far better written.



I'm reading Nuremberg Diary these days, which probably influences my take on this, but such a defence sounds just like what the defendants said after being forced to watch atrocity films.  They had merely been doing their assigned jobs, and at the time had no idea about the ugly monster they were serving.


Give back the money or donate it to the resistance Margaret..

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hey -=+=-, Atwood's prize, fallout and  rethink is already under discussion here. Feel free to repost there.

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