Author says UK literary events refusing to host him because he is Jewish

Richard Zimler, author of bestselling ‘The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon,’ writes in Guardian that organizers are becoming anti-Semitic over fears of offending pro-Palestinian activists

Richard Zimler being interviewed at his home in 2015. (screen capture  YouTube/FnacPortugal)
Richard Zimler being interviewed at his home in 2015. (screen capture YouTube/FnacPortugal)

A bestselling author says organizers have dropped him from UK literary events in recent weeks because of fears his Jewish heritage will offend pro-Palestinian activists.

Richard Zimler, whose newest book “The Gospel According to Lazarus” has been widely praised, wrote in The Guardian that a publicist trying to book appearances for him in Britain had been blackballed by two different literary events that had initially shown interest, once they found out he is Jewish.

“If cultural organizations are afraid of hosting events for Jewish writers, then Britain has taken a big step backwards,” he wrote.

The Guardian did not name the organizations that had feared hosting him, but the paper said the publicist, who also was not named, confirmed that talks over hosting him were cut off over fears of anti-Israel protests.

Zimler blamed the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement and the UK Labour party, which has been accused of anti-Semitism, of deepening an “atmosphere of fear.”

The BDS movement claims to only oppose Israeli policies and not be anti-Semitic. Zimler, who was born in the US and lives in Portugal, said he has no connection with Israel.

“I have neither investments nor family there,” he wrote. “It’s true my new novel is set in the Holy Land, but it takes place 2,000 years before the foundation of the state of Israel.”

There was no immediate comment from the Peter Owen publishing house, which released his book in the UK in April.

Zimler won renown for his debut novel “The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon” in 1996. His latest tome deals with Jesus’ relationship with the man he raised from the dead.

The Sunday Times named “The Gospel According to Lazarus” one of the best books of 2019 so far.

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