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PEN America faces continued backlash for handling of Mideast conflict, hosts annual gala | WETM

PEN America Gala Raises Controversy and Criticism Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

PEN America Gala Proceeds Amid Controversy

New York City was buzzing with anticipation as the annual PEN America gala took place on Thursday night, despite ongoing criticism and controversy surrounding the event. The literary and human rights organization faced backlash over its response to the recent Israel-Hamas war, with accusations of limited concern for the suffering of Gaza residents and the deaths of Palestinian writers and journalists.

The gala, which serves as PEN America’s major annual fundraiser, saw key supporters and sponsors, including all five major New York publishers and organizations such as Bloomberg and the National Basketball Association, come together for the event. With over $2 million already raised, the gala was expected to be a star-studded affair, with guests such as Paul Simon, Seth Meyers, and honorees like Wall Street Journal publisher Almar Latour and Vietnamese dissident Pham Doan Trang in attendance.

However, protests against PEN America continued, with public clashes between writers and conflicting opinions on the organization’s actions surrounding the Gaza war. Author-journalist George Packer and novelist Dinaw Mengestu, both involved with PEN, had a public disagreement over the criticisms and support of the organization.

Despite the controversy, authors and supporters gathered for the gala to celebrate the power of writing and human rights. The event took place at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, with hundreds in attendance to show their support for PEN America’s mission. The evening highlighted the importance of freedom of expression and the role of writers in society, even amidst challenging times.

As the gala concluded, the discussions and debates surrounding PEN America’s actions continued. The organization’s future events and partnerships remain uncertain, but the commitment to promoting literature and defending freedom of speech remains steadfast, as writers, publishers, and supporters aim to find common ground and continue the important work of PEN America.

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