Is your favorite book author a human? This is not a question about AI. It is, rather, the question at the center of a crowdsourced blacklist of novelists. If your favorite author has a shred of humanity, I’m sorry but this list says you should not give them your money.

That’s not how the blacklist describes it, of course. The list is actually about whether a popular author is a “Zionist.” I put that in quotes because the blacklisters mean “Jew.” And the descriptions of their transgressions can best be called “human.”

Let me give you an example. Pierce Brown is the bestselling author of the dystopian science-fiction series Red Rising. On the blacklist, he is listed as a Zionist and therefore to be avoided. The explanation is that he posted “pro-Israel” content to an Instagram story. You can follow a link to see the evidence for yourself. His crime: “He lamented the loss of life on October 7 while ignoring the history and reality of Israel’s genocidal, apartheid settler state in Palestine.”

So there you have it. Literally, “he lamented the loss of life on October 7” is the entirety of the case against him. You might call him a human being. Anti-Israel activists call him a Zionist. Both sound to me like compliments, but the twitter account ZionistsInBooks disagrees.

Some of this work takes real sleuthing by this amateur keffiyeh Stasi. Take Stephanie Garber, author of a couple of popular young-adult fiction series. Under the “Zionist: Yes/No” category, Garber is listed as a firm Yes. The explanation was less firm, positing that Garber “allegedly posted pro-palestine messaging previously, however she favorably posted a book by SJM to her instagram story, and then blocked an instagram user after they called her out for it (sic all).”

So there was some indication she may have said something pro-Palestinian but, on the other hand, she possesses a book by “SJM.” Following the thread, that would be the hugely successful fantasy author Sarah J. Maas. Maas is on the list as well, and one would expect her crimes to have been horrific for another author to be banned for merely reading her book. Under Maas’s entry, we read that she hasn’t posted about either side in the conflict, but she “went on Birthright,” the Israel sightseeing trip for young Jews.

If you’re keeping score: Stephanie Garber should be boycotted because she owns at least one book by Sarah J. Maas, who went to Israel about 20 years ago.

We also have Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of, among others, Daisy Jones and the Six, the novel that was recently adapted into a limited series by Amazon Prime, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, adapted by Netflix. If you follow the evidentiary link to Reid’s transgression, you will find that she posted a screenshot of the father of Noa Argamani, a young woman taken hostage on Oct. 7 while attending an Israeli music festival, saying “I want there to be peace, but I also want my daughter to return.”

I know, I know. Monster.

I should point out that even if the explanations for these blacklistings weren’t galactically stupid, they would still be bigoted and McCarthyite. I don’t know if someone who expresses sympathy for a kidnapped woman is necessarily a Zionist, but as Zionism is merely the realization of equal Jewish rights to self-determination, this blacklist is really about excommunicating Jews and Jew-friendly writers.

J.K. Rowling is on this list as a Yes; George R.R. Martin as an Unclear. Perhaps my favorite is Salman Rushdie listed as an Unclear with the explanation that although he participated in a charity for Palestinians in Gaza, he also spoke at an event hosted by the free-speech group PEN America—which has become a bogeyman of the progressive pro-Hamas crowd because it won’t exclude Jews from its organization. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything more ridiculous than a bunch of pro-Hamas activists demanding Salman Rushdie join their boycott of Jews.

One author is on here because he “doesnt believe in boycotting.” Another because her book is being published by a subsidiary of Disney, and Disney is apparently too pro-Jewish for this list. (Old Walt surely turning in his grave!) Gabrielle Zevin is on the list because she—I kid you not—spoke at a Hadassah meeting once. Her other crime is putting an Israeli character in her last book.

You get the point. According to a Wikipedia summary of thought criminal Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, two of the main characters are imprisoned and brutalized for singing a forbidden folk song. I don’t know whether Brown considers himself a Zionist, but the participants in this blacklist could probably learn a thing or two from reading his books.

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