Best-selling and award-winning liberal writer Iain Banks gives his support to the anti-Semitic boycott of Israel and prefers that his books not be translated into Hebrew for the Israeli market. Genre folk’s response – predictable deafening silence

One of the most notable, best-selling and award-winning speculative fiction writers in the UK is Iain Banks. A rare writer who crosses over into the mainstream and has a strong mainstream following going beyond the genre ‘ghetto’. Banks is likewise well-known for his de rigueur progressive liberal politics, something that comes shining through in his novels and stories.

The thing is – to cut to the chase – Banks’s left-wing politics are of the typical scatterbrained loony Left variety. That may come across as a baseless ad hominem. However what I am getting at is Banks’s odious jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to the fashionable demonization of the Jewish state and the associated whitewashing of Islamist terror and tyranny in the Middle-East and beyond. In other words Banks is anti-Semitic and rabidly so.

In fact Banks is almost a clone of his genre colleague, the other vicious anti-Semitic British radical Leftist, China Mieville. Of course I have featured an eleven part series on Mieville at this blog.

Iain Banks, like Mieville, has given his support to a boycott campaign against Israel (and no other nation on earth as far as I can discover). The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel is waaaaaay beyond a legitimate and reasonable criticism of Israel. It is predicated on a demonization and vilification of Israel and furthers the demonization and drive to deligitimize the Jewish state i.e. it has everything to do with the Jews and not in a good way neither. BDS campaigns against Israel are unequivocally anti-Semitic and vehemently so.

As I wrote re Mieville’s support for BDS against Israel:

Support for BDS against Israel is not only anti-Semitic, it is base and extreme anti-Semitism. It is unambiguous rabid in-your-face Jew-hatred. There is no other way to explain this support for BDS against the Jew among the nations and yet these self-same supporters (like Mieville) do not call for BDS against nations with among the worst human rights records and whose governments sponsor, sanction and promote terror, tyranny, oppression and murder, from the Middle-East and Asia to Africa and Latin America.

BDS is rationalized upon a demonisation of Israel, it is beyond a double standard. After all Israel isn’t a fascist despotic state, libels and slurs to the contrary.

I also put up these links from that Mieville article up here, again:

Here are some links for those of you with a moral sense, explicating the details on why and how the BDS campaign against Israel is horribly anti-Semitic.

Boycott and be damned?  from the UK’s CiF (Comment Is Free)  Watch March 2011

Joel Fishman’s The message of BDS A review of Omar Barghouti’s  Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanctions; BDS contre l’apartheid et l’occupation de la Palestine, from January 2011.

A column from the British Engage entitled ‘John Berger is wrong’ by Anthony Julius and Simon Schama. It is a response to Berger’s support for BDS against Israel. From December 2006.

One doesn’t boycott the only free society in the Mideast  From Ha’Aretz, the liberal TA daily. Published in January 2011.

Yes, the boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic’ from Commentary by Jonathan Tobin from July 2011.

It gets worse with Banks. I have written an article here in my Mieville series entitled ‘On the alleged refusal of Mieville to have his books translated into Hebrew’. As I write in that article and make clear in the very title, the evidence I have for Mieville refusing to have his books translated into Hebrew for the Israeli market, is not conclusive. I have no smoking gun so to speak, although would any fair-minded person be surprised if it were true? However with Banks the evidence is conclusive. Banks has been very upfront about his hope or desire not to have his books made available for the Israeli market.

Banks wrote to the anti-Semitic Guardian calling for “a full cultural and educational boycott of Israel”:

It would be a form of collective punishment (albeit a mild one), and so in a way an act of hypocrisy for those of us who have criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian people in general and those in Gaza in particular, but appeals to reason, international law, UN resolutions and simple human decency mean – it is now obvious – nothing to Israel, and for those of us not prepared to turn to violence, what else can we do?

For the little it’s worth, I’ve told my agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers. I would urge all writers, artists and others in the creative arts, as well as those academics engaging in joint educational projects with Israeli institutions, to consider doing everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.1

Iain Banks’s support for a cultural boycott against Israel has been commented on critically at the very liberal UK Engage in June 2010, authored by Mira Vogel (excerpt pasted below):

Cultural boycotts don’t work like that, and it’s hard to know what Banks’ efforts at isolating Israel(is) mean in practice. No more invitations to the Jerusalem Quartet? Hectoring any Israeli in the vicinity? Weird, given that he has omitted to mention anything approaching ethical isolation and moral degradation on the part of Hamas. John Levy reacts:

“The use by Iain Banks and friends of language reminiscent of the National Socialists (Letters, 3 and 4 June) arouses the most atavistic of Jewish fears, not least because their criticism of Israel is so grotesquely overstated. Israel, as a fully functioning – and therefore by definition flawed – democracy, should be subject to serious analysis and rigorous criticism. But it is not a rogue regime installed by putsch (cf Gaza June 2007). It is a multi-faith, multicultural entity, in which eight calendars of religious festivals are protected by law and cultural diversity prevails – as opposed to the Taliban-lite regime now in power in Gaza. Hamas, as your recent reports indicate, is imposing an ever-more rigorous Islamist template on all Gazans. Israeli hospitals are full of patients from the Palestinian Authority receiving advanced medical care. Many academic and research colleagues in Israel are engaged in serious and mutually respectful collaborative projects with Palestinian counterparts.”

Returning to Iain Banks’ boycott, Steven Poole writes:

“Iain Banks himself realizes too that it is a stupid (and actually vicious) idea: his plaintive “what else can we do?” doesn’t even pretend to be a justification; it is merely the Politician’s Logic of “Something must be done; this is something; therefore, we must do it.”

So Banks presses on regardless, proposing to cure the “ethical isolation” of Israel by, um, isolating it even more, without, or so it seems, even beginning to imagine how that might affect the balance of internal politics in Israel itself.”

The ‘Rabbit’s Eye View’ blog also had something to say re Iain Banks’s vicious anti-Semitism on clear display back in 2010 [I have corrected some of the typos]:

Banks, whose greatest dilemma of late has been whether to work or play computer games, has instructed his publishers not to accept translation deals with Israeli publishers.

This he states is potentially a vapid request: a wise precaution as it would entail too much effort on his part to determine if his principal publishers (Orbit Books and Little, Brown Books) hold other contracts with Israeli writers or arrange the translation of their fully human authors’ work for distribution in Israel, or even if his own books are sold in English-language form there.

But, seen from another angle,this is a potentially highly significant request which Banks appears too modest (or self-righteously thick) to consider. Translation deals from Israeli publishers are to be assumed to be for Hebrew (or, at a pinch, Yiddish; Russian or Arabic speakers have other avenues).

Thus, unless I am very much mistaken, Banks considers speakers of a language historically and factually associated with Jews to be (currently, at least) beyond the political pale. Of course, refusing to have one’s works translated into any named language is, at the very least, the hallmark of a nitwit.

So, will Banks consider this, or push for a meaningful boycott (i.e. one which would require onerous actions on his part) by demanding his agents or publishers have nothing to do in toto with Israeli distribution? Or is he, and I personally think this is far more likely, a callow and pampered luvvie who, like an overgrown child (or wealthy person) does not think he should face the consequences of his actions?

‘Artists’ and faux-bellwethers of the literati receive all they are owed by our purchasing their material.  This is not the 19th Century, when William Wadsworth Longfellow besotted Queen Victoria’s household (who had, presumably, seen all the great names the world had to offer). I can pick up a DVD from the petrol station, or a book from Tesco’s, or turn on the radio and television at any time of the day and get my cultural fix. None of us are beholden to some self-appointed moral guardian who has not fought for a single moment of his comfort.

There you have it!

Naturally – as far as I can ascertain – not a single genre writer or editor, Jewish or Gentile, has called Banks out for the anti-Semite that he is. In other words, as with Mieville, there is nothing but a deafening silence regarding Banks’s fashionable ‘new’ anti-Semitic posturing. It is only non-genre folk quoted above who have exposed Banks for the obtuse anti-Semite that he is. The same thing with Mieville. In fact, as I make clear in my concluding two articles in my Mieville series, it is way worse than deafening silence… . There is a pretense that Mieville doesn’t have an anti-Semitic bone in his body, from the genre Left at least, including genre Court Jewry such as Lavie Tidhar, Rose Fox, Laura Anne Gilman, Charles Stross and others.

The thing is both Banks and Mieville are best-selling and award-winning genre writers; Banks is at least as well-known, arguably better known than Mieville (at least among the mainstream literary community and readership). Yet no Jewish genre writer or editor in the UK and North America has boo to say on this front.

Naturally all one hears from the oh-so-progressive liberal genre community (so concerned apparently about um the evils of prejudice, yeah right) are the sounds of silence. Clearly none of Banks’s liberal genre peers and colleagues in the UK and across the pond are bothered by his Judenhass one little bit. Hardly, as Banks’s anti-Israel animus is something plenty of them share and indulge in (if not to the same degree and with the same transparency, well…), and they don’t want to look too closely at any of this. That is the elephant in the room that is inflexible and relentless anti-Israel animus and the anti-Semitism it flimsily attempts to disguise, but only reveals.

The cowardice, hypocrisy and worse of the genre Thought Police (and liberal genre Jewry) stinks to high heaven. Their deafening silence, worse, the very denial of Mieville’s vicious anti-Semitism is very telling; and what of the identical ‘progressive’ anti-Semitism of Iain Banks? Especially in light of the genre thought police’s frothing over ‘Islamophobia’. And the bigotry of Banks (as with Mieville) is the acceptable even de rigueur kind, namely Judenhass-that-pretends-it-ain’t (i.e. dishonest anti-Israelism). Unlike Elizabeth Moon and others, Banks – as with his fellow Israel-hater China Mieville – isn’t offending reactionary right-wing Islamists and their uh Western liberal apologists. Hardly. If that were the case you would hear no end of it from the usual suspects, such as the  genre critics of Elizabeth Moon (Jewish and Gentile).

Israeli SF editor and critic Abigail Nussbaum who directed plenty critical commentary Elizabeth Moon’s way over the whole ‘Citizenship’ brouhaha, but had and has nothing to say on China Mieville’s anti-Semitism even as she has reviewed his books there, repeats this MO with Iain Banks. Nussbaum has reviewed Banks’s fiction at her AskingtheWrongQuestions blog without the least mention of Banks’s rabid anti-Semitism, as she has done likewise with Mieville. That link is from 2011 btw, post Banks’s in-your-face Judenhass outing. Now why is that Nussbaum? Or is that the wrong question to ask? I couldn’t resist…

I don’t think Orwell could ever have dreamed up this contemporary nightmare of ‘progressive’ liberal Judenhass-that-pretends-it-ain’t polemics and Islamist apologetics cant from the self-same uh progressive quarters. And what of the moral cowardice of liberal Jewry, in the general failure at combating ‘new’ anti-Semitism? At best moral cowardice, at worst ‘progressive ‘ liberal Jewry frankly justify such disingenuous prejudice and give it the thumbs up. The truth as always is stranger than fiction, and science fiction at that.

In fact the self-same liberal genre ‘Jewry’ and Gentiles who have attacked me personally – with the most lame name-calling and uh worse, pretending I’m some kind of violent psychopath stalker – have zilch to say on the extreme anti-Semitism from the likes of Banks and Mieville for that matter. Hardly. In fact they pretend otherwise. According to just one of my liberal critics (responding to me personally), academic and SF maven, Brit Paul Graham Raven, Mieville is good political company to keep. He ain’t alone neither in that sentiment. That’s for sure. Jewish genre writer Charles Stross for one, had no problem with Graham Raven’s tweet in this regard, and effectively gave it the thumbs up.

The interesting thing about the critical responses to Iain Banks’s Judenhass, is that they don’t come from professional genre folk – of course not! – but non-genre people. As with Mieville himself (see part 9 of my series linked further up. Mieville’s anti-Semitism is acknowledged as such by noted literary critic D G Myers).

So it goes.


I would later add these other Iain Banks themed articles to this blog, that only show up further just what a hardcore Jew-hater Banks was; and just how bad the fawning and grovelling was from liberal genre folk (notably upon Banks’s death from cancer), genre ‘Jewry’ included.

On Iain Banks being diagnosed with incurable cancer. letting the world know he still hates the Jew nation. Some revealing commentary by the genre Left, Court Jewy included

Iain Banks’s anti-Semitism and support for a boycott against Israel cheered by the prominent neo-Nazi internet hate forum Stormfront

Tributes pour in for the anti-Semite Iain Banks upon his passing. Imagine if he hated black people or gays rather than the Jews…

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