When we learned that in February you would be receiving the Jerusalem Prize from Shimon Peres, many of us who share your dreams of freedom and follow the path laid down by, amongst many others, Martin Luther King in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, in the struggle for social and political rights now wonder why it is so difficult to resist the flattery of the powerful, even when one has already achieved fame and acknowledgement and another prize is no longer that significant. Why is it so difficult for you to choose the ethical option that guided your first works of literature?
Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language, reader of the daily press, habitual columnist, chronicler of modern life… could it be that you are not aware of what is going on in Palestine? Is it that you are the victim of severe amnesia and that you no longer remember how many wars have been launched by Israel against its neighbors, how much land has been literally stolen from Palestinian farmers, how many settlements are being built on land taken from its legitimate owners?
We do not believe in a sudden, or even partial amnesia; we tend to think that instead, you find it difficult not to succumb to the words of praise of those who flatter you, even if their hands are covered in blood. That is what we think has happened to you. And you have not you heard of the BDS international campaign in which thousands of activitists and personalities all over the world, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jean-Luc Godard, Stéphane Hessel, Juan Goytisolo, Henning Mankell, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy and Eduardo Galeano, are determined to put an end to this state of racism and apartheid that occupies all of Palestine? We don’t think so, because not only are you a member of the Academy, but you are also part of this world and each day you read the newspapers. You must have read about us, too, the International movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. And you must be aware of the role of the boycott in doing away with apartheid in South Africa. And of how important it is for everyone, irrespective of his/her profession and condition, to join the BDS campaign and let the world know, on behalf of the civil rights of peoples, that one must not go to Israel, must not accept prizes from them, must not shake the hands of the oppressors.
You probably do not remember what your dreams were when in September 1970 Nixon and Kissinger visited our dictator in view of the international “normalization” of Spain. In those days, when you were perhaps about to enter university, you must have hated those Americans leaders from a democratic country who wanted to normalize. Two months later, in Spain three persons were sentenced to death in the Burgos trial. Decent people hated those who wanted “to normalize” this country under the canopy of the Dictator, instead of demanding the end of the dictatorship and the establishment of a free, democratic system in Spain. Today in Palestine, people will also hate you, because you are not going to condemn the oppressor, but rather to receive from the latter’s hands a prize which includes a considerable amount of money. You could at least sell yourself for more!! Or do you really know what you are doing?
Today you are going to receive a prize and become a friend of oppressors. Like Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafael_Trujillo ) when he visited our country and received the medal of Isabel the Catholic, you will receive a prize which bears the name of an occupied city in which apartheid is more visible than ever; a city in which Palestinians are evicted, where settlements grow like mushrooms and where the remains of the Arab city, with hundreds of years of history, are destroyed.
We are only telling you this to let you know that we know that you know why you are going and what you are going to receive in exchange for this despicable prize. You are doing just the same that Nixon did years ago: you are playing the “normalizing” game, because your presence there is simply a symbol of normalization.
When you are seated at the table with Shimon Peres for the usual kosher meal, ask him, just out of curiosity, how many settlers are on their way, at that moment, to the hills of the West Bank; how many farmers with children who have listened in silence, like you when you were little, to the same stories of wars and repression, are going to be expelled by these settlers. Ask Shimon Peres how he counts calories to ensure that the people of Gaza “only lose weight” but do not starve to death. (http://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-israel-calculo-calorias-necesitaban-palestinos-evitar-desnutricion-20121017143214.html) Lastly, ask him why Israel is going to colonize the E-1 area, why it is occupying the Jordan River valley, why it is plundering the minerals of the Dead Sea; these are all territories that are illegally occupied. Ask him if he does not choke when he sees pictures of the children assassinated in Gaza, and ask yourself what you are doing there, whether the child you used to be, who listened to the stories of his elders about life, the countryside, war, is the same person who is now sharing a meal with persons who defend war crimes, targeted assassinations, harassment, attacks on fishermen, plundering of farmers, the death of people who are ill due to lack of medicine, and indeed the wall of shame.
When you go to visit the Holocaust Memorial, cry. Cry for the victims that are represented and are used to justify the occupation and destruction of Palestine. Cry, because they certainly did not give their lives to continue causing more pain to others. And cry for the Palestinian victims every year of each attack and every war of a country that wants, in the name of security, to have the merit of being the last colonial state and defender of apartheid of the twenty-first century.
We will not accept any words of condemnation on your part, because you are simply going there for the glory. And you will have it, the glory of appearing on the black list of Spanish intellectuals, artists, professors, journalists, diplomats, etc., who went looking the other way and who, having had the opportunity to help change history, chose, like the famous “statesmen” Nixon or Leónidas Trujillo, to normalize, accept, obey and flatter the tyrants.
The “Polish Rider”, your beautiful novel, deserves an author who is more loyal to his own principles.