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Majority of National Book Awards finalists call for ceasefire in Gaza at New York ceremony

JTA — Twenty of the 25 finalists for the US National Book Awards gathered Wednesday evening in New York to call for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, a decision that prompted one of the Jewish sponsors of the ceremony to withdraw. .

Zibby Owens, owner of Zibby Books, announced Tuesday that his company would no longer co-sponsor the prestigious awards after the foundation that awards them failed to assure him that it would respond if the planned statement used language that “could be used “. intimidate based on religious views. Another sponsor, Book of the Month, told the New York Times that it would continue to support the awards but would skip the ceremony because of the planned statement.

The 58-word statement, read by novelist Aaliyah Bilal, explicitly expresses opposition to anti-Semitism by calling for an end to Israel’s war in Gaza, launched in response to the devastating attack by Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the coastal territory on Gaza. On October 7, some 1,200 people were killed and at least 240 captured.

“On behalf of the finalists, we oppose the ongoing bombing of Gaza and call for a humanitarian ceasefire to address the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinian civilians, especially children,” read Bilal, whose nominated book “ Temple Folk” is about black American Muslims.

She added: “We also oppose anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia, accepting the human dignity of all parties, knowing that further bloodshed will do nothing to ensure lasting peace In the region. »

It was not clear which of the 25 finalists had not signed the declaration. Around ten finalists joined Bilal on stage. The statement was met with “thunderous applause,” according to a Literary Hub report. Above a video of the statement, Literary Hub wrote: “Thank you for your words of peace. »

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