|BANNING A BOOK
What follows here is a translation by Anthony Alcock of an open letter by the director of a Holocaust centre and professor of education, Micha Brumlik, to a German publishing house. It was sent by way of a German newspaper. It got the German translation of Ted Honderich's book After the Terror suspended from further sale. As it turned out, this meant that the book would not be reprinted after the first edition sold out, which it had done. The publisher was Suhrkamp Verlag. The newspaper was the Frankfurter Rundschau . For the original German version of the letter, go to the newspaper's website (http://www.fr-aktuell.de/).
To the Board of Suhrkamp Verlag:
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,
I choose this informal way of writing because I am just about to go on holiday, but would nevertheless like to express my indignation and to assure you that you haven’t heard the last of this.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I read, in Ted Honderich’s recent and in many respects thoroughly readable book After the Terror, remarks about the state of Israel and Zionism that go well beyond anything produced by J. Möllemann (of blessed memory).
I began to feel a bit queasy when I came across unbelievable rubbish such as the statement on p. 51 that, in the two years between 1989 and 199, 250,000-400,000 Soviet Jews had settled on Arab soil. When I came to the passage on p.53
"Zionism as it is has rightly been condemned as racist by the United Nations..."
it became clear what all this was leading up to.
But Honderich’s subjectively honest confession on p.236 still came as a bit of a surprise: "I for my part have no serious doubt, to take the outstanding case, that the Palestinians have exercised a moral right in their terrorism against the Israelis."
After its publication of Martin Walser’s anti-semitic Death of a Critic, Suhrkamp is now publishing, in its Jubilee Series (!), a political-philosophical tract propagating anti-semitic anti-Zionism, thereby justifying the murder of Jewish civilians in Israel and so, according to the strict moral logic of Honderich, recommending other people to do precisely that (viz. kill Jews).
One can only feel dismay and disbelief in view of the fact (and let us hope that there is no repetition) that a publisher who has published Gershom Sholem (to name only one Zionist) and has its own Jewish publishing house which has published another famous Zionist, Agnon, has published philosophical hatred of the Jews. What does all this talk of the German-Jewish spirit, what does the association between your publishing house and Amos Oz amount to, when you publish stuff like this ? Or doesn’t the left hand know what the right hand is doing ? Has editorial control in your house completely disappeared ?
The FB Institute, of which I am the director, deals not only with the history of the holocaust, but also with its consequences, and thus feels a special obligation to one of your writers, Adorno, who postulated as the highest pratical maxim that there should never be another Auschwitz. In saying this, Adorno was certainly not just talking about the hatred and murder of Jews, but there can be no doubt that he did also mean both.
I therefore urge you to take Honderich’s book off the market immediately. With humble respects
Prof. Dr. Micha Brumlik
(Micha Brumlik is Director of the Fritz Bauer Institute, the centre for the study and documentation of the History of the Holocaust and Its Effects.)
Dr. Jurgen Habermas's letter in reply
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