Copenhagen: He who pays the Publisher

Posted on August 29, 2006


by sabine behrmann

The festival Images of the Middle East, which currently is trying to enlighten the public all over Denmark about contemporary culture in that part of the world, has had bad press for a very long time.

There was trouble getting the festival arranged we were told – because of bad management. So there was no reason to believe that the invited artists would show up, and the whole affair would explode in the hands of the organisers who would be disgraced and turn Denmark into an international laughing stock…

But the guests arrived and the festival was launched.

However, one third into it there is no reason for despair among the critically minded: we are told that an anthology of contemporary literary texts from the Middle East (Broen / The Bridge) does not contain any contribution from Israel because of the sponsor’s wishes.

The identity of the sponsor – whether it is the Saudi Arabian Kingdom Holding or the Islamic educational organisation ISESCO – is as yet unclear. But that the book does not contain any text written by an Israeli seems to be a fact.

Some Danish journalists are incensed – some politicians probably, too.

However: there were not Danish sponsors enough to pay for this publication – so the people behind the project went somewhere else. And got their money to fund their project.

But they had to pay a price that came as a surprise for them. In contemporary Danish there is no equivalent to “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. There probably isn’t any need for one because this particular knowledge is part of the non-verbal skills learned in early life by most Danes.

And now they are learning that the tune changes when you have dealings with people who went to a different kind of nursery school.

This festival must definitely be considered educational.