Wiesenthal Centre Urges Frankfurt Book Fair Director To Withdraw Offensive Catalogue

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Wiesenthal Centre to Frankfurt Book Fair Director: "2007 Fair Opens as Homage to Catalonia in the Language of Holocaust Denial"

Frankfurt, 10 October 2007

In a letter to Frankfurt Book Fair Director, Jürgen Boos, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, recalled their meetings "to seek cooperation in keeping hate out of the Frankfurt Book Fair," noting that "these discussions followed the
2004 Fair which honoured the Arab League. The speaker featured at the opening was the notorious Holocaust denier, Mohammad Salmawy."

Samuels continued, "Little did we imagine that the 2007 Fair, which opened last night in homage to Catalonia, would be similarly tainted."

The letter pointed to a catalogue of the Fair, entitled "Guest of Honour Frankfurt Book Fair 2007: Cultura Catalana Singular i Universal" which, "among its list of activities, presents the exhibit 'NOU-NOW. Contemporary Catalan Photography' showing at the Fotografie Forum Internationa. The photo selected to represent the exhibit in this catalogue (page 15, [1]) is 'El Mur' (The Wall) of Joan Fontcuberta, featuring an Arab man in 'keffiyeh' headscarf facing the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank."

The Centre clarified, "What makes this photo (3.25 ft x 5 ft in dimension) an unmitigated outrage is the substance of its caption: 'The Wall in the Palestinian West Bank. The picture is a mosaic of images from a Google search. Ten thousand photos from the Internet searched for Nazi concentration camps (Search key words include 'labor camp', 'Auschwitz-Birkenau', 'Belzec', 'Bergen-Belsen').' These apparently compose the pixels that comprise Fontcuberta's photo - a smug exercise in banalizing the horrors of the Holocaust, an offense to the memory of its victims and to the pain of its survivors, Jews and others - including Catalan fugitives from Franco's Fascism." 

Samuels stressed, "Above all, Mr Director, the Frankfurt Book Fair - through this catalogue under its official auspices - is directly implicated in the violation of German law and of Germany's commitments to European Union and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) provisions against Holocaust denial."

The Centre insisted that "the offensive Catalogue be immediately withdrawn, a public apology be issued and appropriate measures be taken against those responsible. Needless to say, we expect the photo 'El Mur' to be removed from the FFI exhibition, and replaced by a photo more representative of Catalan art and culture."

"To do otherwise would compound the impression, for Neo-Nazis and other hatemongers, that the Book Fair can serve as their platform. Rather than homage, it is also a disservice to Catalonia," concluded Samuels

See photo below:

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58