Friday, August 15, 2008

Three Views: Free Speech in America

Washington Report On Middle East Affairs

Banned in the U.S.A. (Almost)
By Saree Makdisi

I DIDN'T THINK America was a place where bookstores barred people for their viewpoints, until it happened to me, right here in Washington, DC, the city of my birth.

I was scheduled to speak at Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse last month about my latest book, Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation [available from the AET Book Club]. My appearance was canceled when the bookstore owners realized that my book concludes by questioning the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead it proposes a single democratic, secular and multicultural state in which Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully as citizens with equal rights.

“I do not believe that your book will further constructive debate in the United States,” one of the owners wrote to me in an e-mail. “A single state is not a solution.” I was dismayed that my invitation was rescinded because I express a different point of view from the one sanctioned by a supposedly independent bookstore. Yet the cancellation seems to fit into a larger pattern of nationwide censorship about this issue.

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