Apartheid is Racism

During the past couple of weeks I have written about racial injustice, my outrage, our solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and our work on uplifting the voices of BIPOC. The importance of this moment in our history—a history rooted in systemic racism and violence against Black and Indigenous people—cannot be underestimated. The last two weeks have shown us that progress towards justice is possible and that there is reason to hope that real change might be on the horizon. This, of course, will largely depend on us.

As we advocate for the tearing down of the systems of injustice that ended the lives of so many African Americans, as we fight for building a just society here at home, it is also important not to overlook the institutionalized and militarized system of Apartheid that exists in the country Congress calls “our closest friend, the great democracy of Israel.” Apartheid is racism at its core and needs tearing down as well. Racism and brutality abroad cannot be separated from racial and social justice at home. How can we end police brutality at home when American law enforcement agencies send officers to train in Israel and endorse Israel’s use of brutal force as a model for policing? How can we explain our struggle to end racism here in America when, at the same time, our government is supporting, with our tax dollars, a system of racism and oppression that inflicts suffering on the Palestinians?

Under the cloud of a global pandemic, Israel—which has historically denied the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine—is about to steal 30% of the West Bank in a historic land grab that furthers Palestinian dispossession. With Israel’s looming annexation, there is urgency for people of conscience around the globe to speak up against annexation and support the call for equality, freedom, and dignity for Palestinians and demand that Israel adheres to international law. 

Today, the level of Palestinian despair is at an all-time high. Palestinians continue to be colonized; Palestinian lands continue to be confiscated for illegal settlement building; Palestinian refugees continue to be exiled; and Palestinians living inside Israel continue to be discriminated against. Under the watchful eye—or intentional blindness—of its greatest ally, the United States, Israel has not only continued, but has intensified its inhumane policies and violations of international law.

In 1948, my family was terrorized; they were displaced from their home in West Jerusalem; and became refugees in countries that did not want them. I carry their pain with me to this day. As I speak up against anti-Black racism in the US, I will also raise my voice in support of Palestinian rights. It is our duty as US taxpayers to uplift the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality, and to demand that our elected officials hold Israel accountable for its atrocities, and work for an end to the ongoing US complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.

Below are my recommendations for books that give you a better understanding of the Israel/Palestine issue. Thank you for your support. Stay healthy and safe. And stay politically active.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

      

Raising the Profiles of Black Writers

Looking to support Black authors and books in the midst of a national crisis and protest against systemic racism, our colleagues at Amistad Press have launched the hashtag campaign #BlackoutBestsellerList in an effort to draw attention to Black authors. In an e-mail appeal, the campaign encourages readers to purchase “any two books by Black writers” this week. The goal is to “raise the profiles of a lot of talented Black writers and show that Black literature is a growing market,” said Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad.

We are honored to join the call and showcase the works of our Black writers. Our publishing program includes an impressive list of titles by BIPOC authors and illustrators. 

My first Publisher’s Pick for the campaign is Everything Good Will Come, a novel by acclaimed African-American writer Sefi Atta, which won the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature. I still remember the excitement and enthusiasm I felt reading the manuscript and discovering a new, brilliant, young African talent. It is a witty coming-of-age story that traces an unusual friendship of two young girls into their adult lives, against the backdrop of tragedy, family strife, and a war-torn Nigeria. This literary masterpiece will appeal to all readers, especially to those interested in contemporary women’s stories and Nigerian culture. See below three of the rave reviews this debut novel has garnered after its release.

A literary masterpiece… Everything Good Will Come put me into a spell from the first page to the very last… It portrays the complicated society and history of Nigeria through… brilliant prose.” —World Literature Today

“This is a courageous story about friendship and self-discovery; it is a rallying cry to women to speak out in a world that tries to muzzle them.” —Helen Habila, author of Waiting for an Angel 

“There is wit, intelligence and a delicious irreverence in this book. But it is Sefi Atta’s courage in choosing to look at her fictional world through fiercely feminist lenses that I most admired.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple Hibiscus

Finally, together, let’s honor the anniversary of Juneteenth, this Friday’s celebration commemorating the end of slavery, and remember those who lost their lives to police brutality and violence against Black people. Let us use this moment to stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters and amplify the call to defund the police and invest in actions that lift the Black community.

Below are a few other books by Black writers I highly recommend. I urge you to share your purchase of any two titles by Black authors with the hashtag #BlackoutBestsellerList, and don’t forget to tag Interlink in your posts. Will you join the campaign?

Thank you for your continued support. Stay healthy and safe.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

     

Words Matter But Actions Matter More

In all honesty, getting back to the business of bookselling and telling you about our latest releases feels a bit strange to me—even insensitive. Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, reflecting, and looking inwardly at how complicit I am in the racist structures of a culture and society I have long opposed and worked hard to change. But the recent anti-racist protests are also a stark reminder of why the work that we do here at Interlink is so vital, and our community of readers and supporters so central to our struggle for a just world.

Our 33-year-old, family-run, independent publishing house is largely managed by people of color. Though our experience has been different, as Palestinian-Americans, we are well aware of the discrimination and biases of the white-centric world we live in. That is why we are committed to working even harder to supporting—and collaborating with—the Black community and other communities of color in our shared battle to end systemic racism once and for all. My friend Jim Hicks, Executive Editor of the Massachusetts Review, expressed it eloquently when he said: “Every person of every color, creed, and class, in this country and across the world, has witnessed the trail of Black bodies that brought us to this day.”

While words matter greatly, I believe that actions matter more. From day one, our editorial mission has been to honor and amplify marginalized voices—with special emphasis on the unheard voices of women writers from the Middle East—and offer a platform to tell their stories, which otherwise may never be told. But despite the clarity of our founding mission, we acknowledge our shortcomings and are taking concrete steps to further educate ourselves, challenge our own implicit biases, and take actions to grow. 

Today, our will to fight for what we believe in is stronger than ever before. But we are facing inconceivable challenges and can’t do it without your help. You can support us by ordering books online directly from us—or from your local independent bookseller if possible. Your purchases will help us stay afloat so that we can keep fighting back with important books from writers that deserve to be published and young emerging voices that are making waves, opening our eyes, touching our hearts, and challenging our perspectives, prejudices, and preconceptions. If you value our work, but are not able to buy books at this time, you can help immensely by telling others about our books and what we do. Thank you for helping us get through these tough economic times caused by the virus.

Below are my picks of the week. We have extended our offer of free shipping within the US. Thank you for your support and stay healthy and safe.

With gratitude,
Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

      

The Wisdom Of Nelson Mandela

It was very heartening to receive and read your e-mails in response to our statement of solidarity with the Black community. I am grateful that so many of you—publishing colleagues, authors, translators, editors, designers, booksellers, librarians, business partners, readers, and supporters—commit, with us, to acknowledging, listening, learning, and contributing to the vital work we must do as people of conscience in order to end structural racism. You are the reason why we do what we do.

I was deeply moved by the scenes of hundreds of thousands of protesters across the US who are putting their lives on the line during a pandemic and raising their voices to promote civil rights and defend our constitutional right of “Equal Justice under Law.” But I was outraged and pained as I watched some of the horrific footage from the mass demonstrations and saw how protesters—even journalists and cameramen—were being beaten with police batons, hand-cuffed, and arrested by law enforcement officers who have a history of abusing their powers and avoiding accountability. It is truly hard to grasp how largely peaceful protests against police brutality are being met with a show of force and more police brutality and violence.  

It is also hard to reconcile with the idea that every crisis this country has faced in the past three and a half years has been made far worse by a sitting president whose job is to lead, protect, and serve the citizens of this country, but instead chooses tweets and photo-ops that inflame, provoke, spread hate, and incite violence. My hope is that we will not miss this opportunity to harness our rage and energy and turn it into political power—a movement that would elect a president and representatives who will have the courage to advance fundamental change towards dismantling the system of institutional racism and eradicating policies that advance white supremacy at every level in our society.

This week’s events reminded me of Nelson Mandela and a book—a collection of his greatest speeches—we published over a decade ago called Let Freedom Reign: The Words of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s words—his most potent tools in the struggle against apartheid—are as relevant today as when they were first uttered. It shows that he stood firmly for the principles of equality and democracy.

“Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all … Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign …”
—Excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address, May 10, 1994

We are making a pdf of Let Freedom Reign available for $5 (please allow 2-3 days for e-mail delivery) and we will donate 100% of the proceeds to The Action Pac, an organization that is doing important work in combating the rising tide of racism.

Finally, during this time of outrage, it is important to also acknowledge our own implicit biases and consider the changes we can make in our own homes and workplaces. Our bookshelves are a good place to start. Interlink Publishing was built on the foundation that reading marginalized global voices can change the world.

Stay healthy and safe. And thank you for your continued support.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

In Solidarity with the American Intifada

This is not the post I was planning on writing this week. I would much rather be writing to you about an exciting new author I’ve discovered or a new book that we’ve just published. But the past few days demand, yet again, that we speak up against racism, police brutality, and an unfit president enticing violence and promoting racial divisiveness instead of taking bold actions to begin dismantling the system of oppression that has existed in this country for so long.

I am in awe of the thousands of protesters who are risking their lives in the midst of a pandemic to come together in this unprecedented moment in our history. It is vital that we stand in solidarity with the Black community and other communities of color and commit ourselves to continuing the struggle against systemic anti-Black racism and the fight for justice. The murder of George Floyd, who was fatally knee-pinned by a white police officer, is the latest in a series of police killings that have taken the lives of too many African Americans in this country. The ensuing uproar—and rightful outcry—over his death reflects pent-up rage against racism, unwarranted deadly force, and the lack of effort to hold police officers accountable for their crimes.

James Baldwin could have been speaking about President Trump when he said that “ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” In the past, Trump called neo-Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators “decent people,” while he recently called anti-racist protesters “thugs” and threatened them with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn, but African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer.”

In the absence of justice, there will be protests, riots, and intifadas. As a Palestinian, I know this all too well. Around the same time that George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Israeli police in Jerusalem shot and killed Eyad al-Halaq, an unarmed autistic Palestinian student on his way to a school for people with disabilities after spotting on him a “suspicious object that looked like a pistol.” As Palestinians, we are connected in struggle to movements like Black Lives Matter. We’ve witnessed racial violence, ethnic cleansing, and life under an Israeli apartheid system of oppression. Like Palestinian intifadas, people in this country are taking to the streets to say ENOUGH.

I am outraged and my heart is aching. I hope that this protest will be a catalyst for change toward a more just America and a more just world. At Interlink, my colleagues and I will continue to channel our frustrations into our work and we shall redouble our efforts to amplify the voices of Black writers, Palestinian writers, and those from marginalized communities. We shall seek out writers who will offer valuable insights into strengthening our movement for advancing racial justice, LGBTQ+ and gender equality, and continue our fight against racism, Zionism, settler-colonialism, apartheid, US imperialism, and other forms of oppression.

As we have done over the past 33 years, we remain committed to our mission of providing our readers with books that educate, inspire, and encourage informed debate and active participation in our democracy.

Has Trump finished making America Great again?

In solidarity,
Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

Let’s Turn This Crisis Into Change

With your support, we’re working hard to turn this crisis into meaningful change—one book at a time. For nearly 33 years, Interlink Publishing has brought you the power of reading, literature, and great books as well as information vital for participating in our democracy through knowledge and informed debate. This pandemic has only strengthened my deep conviction about the power of literature.

From day one, we have been fiercely committed to our mission and slogan of “Changing the Way People Think about the World.” We remain as committed to this core tenet under lockdown as we were when I first started Interlink Publishing back in 1987 when I was straight out of college. And we shall continue to do what we love to do long after the virus shall come to pass. We wholeheartedly believe that books make the world a better place; they make you feel connected with your neighbors from around the corner and others from around the globe. They are important to the well-being of our society and culture and are indispensable for the health of our democracy.

This pandemic—and the way it is being exploited by the present administration for power and profit—has brought about a stark new reality that has exposed the brutal wounds in our society. As we navigate the “new normal,” deep change is desperately needed to fix long-standing inequities that have only become more pronounced. There never has been a better moment to think about what kind of life we want to rebuild—and what kind of new leadership we want to have—after the virus has evaporated in the hot summer sun.

As we look ahead to our post-pandemic phase, we’re proud to continue to provide you with books that inform, inspire, and entertain, or ones that help you get away from it all while you can’t get away. So let’s keep you company while you keep your distance. Below is this week’s selection of great lockdown reads. Remember, we are still offering a free gift and free shipping until the end of May.

Thank you for your support. Please stay healthy and safe.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor