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WATERSTONES' SALES OF OFFENSIVE COMIC BOOK

Last updated: 2003-04-15

The Board of Deputies has received complaints about an offensive book currently on sale at Waterstones entitled “Palestine” by Jo Sacco.

The book, which is an illustrated account of the cartoonist’s visit to the disputed territories during 1991 and 1992, draws on his discussions with Palestinians he met at the time. However, many references are made to Jewish people in general, drawing on ancient stereotypes and offensive jokes. In reply to a previous complaint concerning this book, Waterstone’s responded that it operated a non-censorship policy.

In his letter to Waterstones, Director General Neville Nagler wrote: “I accept the right to freedom of expression and I appreciate that the issue of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is an emotional one. However, whilst criticism of Israel is legitimate, offensive caricatures of Jewish people are not. Mr. Sacco’s book contains numerous references to Jews in general and not just to Israelis. The tone of these references is quite unacceptable.

“The number of anti-Semitic incidents in this country has rapidly increased over the past two years as a direct result of the conflict in the Middle East and its representation in the British media and print. The offensive depiction of Jewish people by Mr. Sacco can only serve to increase the hostile feeling and current threats facing the British Jewish community.”