Viral list of Zionist writers sparks fears of antisemitism

A list posted online categorizing writers as ‘Pro-Israel/Zionist’ or ‘Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist’ and suggesting one does not support Zionist writers by purchasing their books has gone viral, sparking fears of antisemitism among authors.

The spreadsheet, which had grown to nearly 200 names by Thursday, was created earlier this week by an X user named Amina Hossain. It compiles social media posts, public statements, and close readings to sort authors into categories: “Pro-Israel/Zionist,” “Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist” and various shades of “It’s complicated,” including “Both sides-ing it,” reports The Times of Israel.

The spreadsheet suggested that simply not weighing in on the divisive war was enough to earn skepticism. Besides categorizing writers, the creator of the spreadsheet also offers suitable responses to the title question: ‘Is your fav author a zionist?’

“If YES, it’s suggested you do not give them any money (purchasing their books, streaming their shows/movies) or promote their work on any social platforms.”

“If UNCLEAR, at the end of the day it’s up to you. I suggest refraining from buying/promoting until more evidence is out.”

Many of the authors who are identified as pro-Israel or Zionist are Jewish, but not all of them. Some are open advocates for Israel, but others were assigned to that category on the basis of a single post deemed pro-Israel, such as an October link to a fundraiser for an Israeli emergency services provider.

Since October 7, Jewish authors have faced growing discrimination in the literary world. Amid growing intolerance towards authors who are perceived to be pro-Israel, some are facing exclusion and harassment.

“We’ve been hearing about lists like this one for months now. Seeing this one publicly, and the explanations, is truly chilling,” Naomi Firestone-Teeter, CEO of the Jewish Book Council, said in a statement.

“Calling for a boycott of Jewish authors and their books achieves the same effect as book-burning,” the group’s president, Elisa Spungen Bildner, said in a statement.

The list adds to extensive turmoil in the literary world as prestigious literary prizes, leadership at the Jewish New York cultural center 92NY, major awards ceremonies and the staff of Artforum magazine have all been upended by tensions over the seven-month-old Israel-Hamas war. Last month, the literary free-speech group PEN America canceled its annual awards ceremony and festival after most of its award nominees called for a boycott of the group, citing insufficient criticism of Israel.