Hampstead protesters silence anti-Zionist poet

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

Bernard Josephs | The Jewish Chronicle | March 21, 2003

IRAQ-RELATED tensions and pro-tests from Jewish customers persuaded a Hampstead book store to cancel an appearance by anti-Zionist poet Tom Paulin. The Oxford lecturer and BBC cultural pundit - who has derided his critics as "Hampstead liberal Zionists" - had been due to participate in a discussion with West Indian-born writer Caryl Phillips about her book "A Distant Shore," at the local Waterstone's branch. News of Mr Paulin's appearance sparked protests from Jewish residents, some of whom told the store they considered him to be anti-Semitic - something he strongly denies. Complainants pointed out that in an interview with the Egyptian paper, Al-Ahram, the poet had been quoted as describing US-born West Bank settlers as "Nazis" and suggesting that they should be "shot dead." The former director of the Britain-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Helen Davis, told Waterstone's: "I hope you understand why I will never set foot in your shop again." A store spokesperson told the JC that the invitation to Mr Paulin had been withdrawn "because of complaints by our customers, which we take seriously." The company's view was that "with world events as they are, the event would not have been appropriate." On sabbatical from his post at Ox-ford's Hertford College, the poet was unavailable for comment.