Comma Press Statement in Relation to the Cancellation of Home’s ‘Voices of Resilience’ event and Baseless Allegations

Comma is disappointed with HOME's decision to cancel our planned event for the 22 April. We are also deeply concerned about the baseless and libelous allegations against one of our Palestinian writers, Atef Abu Saif, issued by the lobby group, the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester (JRC), and repeated by the Manchester Evening News. The allegations include the claims that Atef Abu Saif is a 'confirmed antisemite' and a 'holocaust denier'. This is utterly false.

The letter sent by the JRC to HOME and published on their X account, refers to an article Abu Saif wrote on 22 August 2022 in Al-Ayyam newspaper as evidence of this. Rather than deny the holocaust, he says the exact opposite: ‘Hitler's crimes against humanity cannot be forgiven or tolerated. They may be unprecedented in history in terms of their ugliness... As Palestinians, this is a fact we have not denied and will never deny. We are a people who suffer injustice, massacres, killing and displacement. We cannot accept something similar that happened to others and say it is right.’

Both Comma Press and the author absolutely refute the allegations of antisemitism. In a recent interview, Abu Saif repeated the same acknowledgment: 'The holocaust was one of the darkest moments in human history'. Neither Comma Press nor the author were approached or given any opportunity to defend themselves by either the MEN or JRC.

Atef is an award-winning writer, who has previously spoken at Hay Festival, Shubbak Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, and other high-profile events. He has been supported by English PEN, and held events in Jewish-focussed bookshops. He has been the Minister of Culture for the PA in the West Bank since 2019, and his first-hand accounts of the current genocide have been published in multiple mainstream newspapers: New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, and so on.

This character assassination cannot be allowed to stand. Legal action is currently being considered with regard to the original libel and any repetition of it.


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