Mc Ewan on Nihilism

25 Feb

If novelist Ian Mc Ewan, is unknown to you then you have probably found yourself at this far flung island of the web inadvertently.

In any case, McEwan has won the Jerusalem Prize which is awarded at the Jerusalem International Book Fair. The award is given to a writer “whose work best expresses and pro- motes the idea of the freedom of the individual in society.”Past winners include Bertrand Russell, Ignazio Silone, Jorge Luis Borges, Simone de Beauvoir, Don DeLillo, Susan Sontag and Haruki Murakami.

In his acceptance speech Mc Ewan eloquently addressed the long festering tragedy of Israel and its neighbors. I was particularly moved by :

I’d like to say something about nihilism. Hamas, whose founding charter incorporates the toxic fakery of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has embraced the nihilism of the suicide bomber, of rockets fired blindly into towns, and embraced the nihilism of an extinctionist policy towards Israel. But (to take just one example) it was also nihilism that fired a rocket at the undefended Gazan home of the Palestinian doctor, Izzeldin Abuelaish, in 2008, killing his three daughters and his niece. It is nihilism to make a long-term prison camp of the Gaza Strip. Nihilism has unleashed the tsunami of concrete across the occupied territories. When the distinguished judges of this prize commend me for my “love of people and concern for their right to self-realisation”, they seem to be demanding that I mention, and I must oblige, the continued evictions and demolitions, and relentless purchases of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the process of right of return granted to Jews but not Arabs. These so-called “facts on the ground” are a hardening concrete poured over the future, over future generations of Palestinian and Israeli children who will inherit the conflict and find it even more difficult to resolve than it is today, more difficult to assert their right to self-realisation.


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