The battle to publish Londonistan
Published in: Jewish Chronicle
Three years ago, I wrote a proposal for a book about the alarming resurgence of anti-Jewish feeling in Britain, the way this had been taken up by the left and the fact that this was undermining Britain's ability to defend itself against global Islamist terrorism. My literary agent thought it was good stuff and sent it round. Every publishing house said no.
I was taken aside by a senior editor at a big-name imprint who was well-disposed towards me. 'Drop it', he said. 'No British publisher will touch this'. Why? Because it defended Israel, already well on the way to becoming a pariah state, and worse still levelled the charge of anti-Jewish prejudice against the British intelligentsia.
I broadened out the proposal to include an analysis of what I thought was the true nature of the threat posed by the Islamic jihad; the back-to-front thinking in Britain which was turning Islamist aggressors into victims while western and Israeli victims were turned into aggressors; the role played in this process by multiculturalism; and the lethal threat this all posed to a free world under attack.
My agent sent this proposal to specifically Jewish publishers in the hope of touching a nerve. It touched one all right - the problem was it was the wrong nerve. 'I don't agree with this AT ALL so I won't publish it', said one. Another jovially observed: 'I'd rather take ricin than publish this'.
I gave up on Britain, and sent a rewritten proposal to a literary agent in America. And then London was hit by last July's suicide bombings. Soon afterwards, I was telephoned by the American publisher of Encounter books. 'Your proposal needs to explain how this could have happened in Britain, of all places', he said. 'Write me a book called Londonistan'.
At long last I had a publisher for my analysis, which now had a more pointed focus in trying to explain just how Britain had become, during the 1990s, the most significant European centre of the global jihad and how, even after the July bombings, its political and security establishment was still appeasing Islamist extremism and remained in denial about the nature of the threat it was trying to avert.
My US agent was confident that he would now sell Londonistan to a British publisher. 'After 7/7 there'll be no shortage of interest' he asserted. I thought otherwise; and so it proved. To his astonishment, publisher after publisher said no. I resigned myself to the fact that my book about Britain would be shunned by Britain. But at the eleventh hour, a British publisher finally emerged - Gibson Square, a newish, small firm whose publisher, Martin Rynja, absolutely got the point that I was trying to make.
So Londonistan battled into print, last month in the US and, finally, this week in the UK. I spent much of May in the US promoting it through endless broadcasting spots and op-ed pieces. The reaction there wildly exceeded my expectations. It was akin to lighting the blue touch-paper. 'You are speaking for America', they said.
They identified with the way in which 'minority rights' were being used to undermine majority values. They too were appalled by their own government's craven -as they saw it - appeasement of Islamist extremism at home and its dance of denial around the issue of religion. They too perceived that they were unpicking their national glue. Where Britain was leading, they feared, America was following.
Back in Londonistan itself, it's too early to guage more than early reactions. But so far, the book has attracted huge interest and shot into the Amazon bestseller list, and I have been bombarded with support. It's coming from beleaguered middle Britain, from immigrants from Africa and India, from truly reformist Muslims who are appalled that the government's strategy of appeasement is delivering them into the hands of the extremists.
In the media, the usual suspects are behaving according to type. On TV Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission bizarrely accused me of supporting Menachem Begin. On another programme, the editor of Q News, the magazine of Muslim youth, referred to me as 'that vile woman'. The New Statesman reviewer - who dismissed the 7/7 bombers as just 'four ordinary blokes' and Abu Hamza as merely a clown - said the book was 'hysterical' and that I was 'obsessed' and suffering from 'paranoia'.
But a British woman of Nigerian origin wrote to me: 'You speak for a larger group of people than you probably know'; and many others have echoed her.
So many decent people in the world. Maybe civilisation can be saved after all.