Acclaimed Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina said Sunday he would accept a prestigious Israeli award given to authors despite calls from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the Jewish state.
Molina, 57, said he did not believe that accepting the award made him an “accomplice” in Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian activists often pressure international artists to avoid traveling to Israel or accepting prizes here. They say Israel should be censured for its military rule over Palestinians.
The Jerusalem Prize, which was announced last month, is awarded to writers whose work best expresses and promotes the idea of the “freedom of the individual in society.” Five authors who have won the prize subsequently received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The prize is awarded every two years.
Molina’s books emphasize a strong bond to international culture, literature and history. Some of his work reflects the far-reaching changes that have taken place in Spain as it transitioned from dictatorship to democracy, exposing traumatic collective memories.
The judging panel noted his extensive body of writing, spanning diverse literary genres and subjects, which has won Molina widespread praise and prominent literary awards.
Molina said he was honored to receive the award.
“The worth of a prize depends on the people who have received it before you,” Molina told reporters. “I would like to be as good as many of them.”
Molina described his politics as reflective of those of award-winning Israeli author David Grossman, who frequently criticizes Israeli policies and its hold on the West Bank, which it captured in the 1967 war.
The Spanish writer said he had never visited areas where Israel maintains military control over Palestinians. He said he wouldn’t have time on his four-day trip, but he intended to visit them in the future. “It’s unfinished business,” Molina said.
Molina said that he had come under pressure not to accept the prize, but that as far as he knew no Palestinians had tried to contact him.
The Spanish writer has three books translated into English: “Sepharad,” ”In Her Absence” and “A Manuscript of Ashes.” His latest novel, “Noche de los Tiempos” is currently being translated into English.