Tuesday, May 28, 2024

PEN America under scrutiny for its Mideast war response, holds annual gala event

PEN America Gala Faces Criticism Amidst Israel-Hamas Conflict

PEN America Gala Continues Despite Controversy Surrounding Israel-Hamas Conflict

NEW YORK (AP) — The annual PEN America gala is set to take place Thursday night, with guests such as Paul Simon and Seth Meyers in attendance. The event has been surrounded by controversy due to criticism of the organization’s response to the Israel-Hamas war.

PEN America, a literary and human rights organization, has been under fire for its perceived lack of concern for the suffering of Gaza residents and the deaths of Palestinian writers and journalists. This has led to the cancellation of the spring awards ceremony and the World Voices festival, as numerous writers and nominees have withdrawn their support.

However, the gala remains a crucial fundraising event for the organization, with over $2 million already raised. Key supporters, including major New York publishers and organizations like Bloomberg and the National Basketball Association, are standing by PEN America.

CEO Suzanne Nossel defended the organization’s partnerships, stating, “The test of our partnerships is whether we can find a common cause, not whether we hold every cause in common.”

Despite ongoing protests and clashes among writers, the gala at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan is expected to draw hundreds of attendees. Honorees for the night include Paul Simon, Wall Street Journal publisher Almar Latour, and Vietnamese dissident Pham Doan Trang, with Seth Meyers serving as emcee.

Authors like Robert Caro, Candace Bushnell, and Jay McInerney are scheduled to attend, showing their support for the organization. However, criticism persists, with some writers accusing PEN America of misplaced priorities for continuing with the gala while canceling other events.

As the controversy continues to swirl, the PEN America gala remains a focal point for discussions about the organization’s role in supporting writers and human rights in the face of global conflicts.

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