(September 20, 2019 / JNS) The German jury of the Nelly Sachs literary prize withdrew its decision to honor British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie after discovering her support for the BDS movement, the Independent reported on Friday.
Earlier this month, the panel voted Shamsie the winner of the prize—named after Jewish poet and Nobel Prize recipient Nelly Sachs—but said in a statement that at voting time, “despite prior research, the members of the jury were not aware that the author has been participating in the boycott measures against the Israeli government for its Palestinian policies since 2014.”
“Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS campaign … is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award,” said the jury.
“The cultural boycott does not transcend borders, but affects the whole of Israeli society, regardless of its actual political and cultural heterogeneity,” it continued. “Kamila Shamsie’s work is also withheld from the Israeli population in this way. This contrasts with the claim of the Nelly Sachs Prize to proclaim and exemplify reconciliation among peoples and cultures. The jury regrets the situation in every respect.”
The Nelly Sachs Prize, given every two years by the German city of Dortmund, is worth €15,000 ($16,500), and awarded to writers who promote “tolerance and reconciliation,” and improve cultural relations.
In a statement posted on Twitter by Artists for Palestine UK, Shamsie called the withdrawal of her award a “matter of outrage,” saying the BDS boycott should not be “held up as something shameful and unjust.”
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