That’s the message Israel is promoting this month at its stand at the Buenos Aires Book Fair. It’s a far cry from The House of Islam, another stand at the fair that displayed a book whose cover showed the Statue of Liberty with the face of George W. Bush. Instead of the traditional torch, the statue’s raised arm holds a Menorah. The other hand holds a shield of David.
Thousands of publishers from around the world descend on Argentina for the three-week fair that attracts 1.2 million visitors. Israel’s love theme encrompassed two projects — one a sculture called Hearts Alive that visitors were encouraged to stick personal messages on; the other, called Love Machine, has visitors exchanging balloons with love-themed messages.
“Love is our theme,” said Yoav Adler, the cultural and Press Attache of Israeli embassy. “Not only in the romantic sense, but in all ways Israel represents love: romantic love, friendship, family, love of the land, religious, love of knowledge, helping and charity and love of life.”
All this is a sideshow to the fair’s hottest subject, the Argentinian Pope Francis, the subject of a slew of new books. The pope’s first biography, by journalist Evangelina Himitian, contains additional details about his friendship with Jews. Then there’s a new edition of “On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century,” written by then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary.
“We did a new cover, printed 10,000 copies and we are selling it like a hot bread,” said Daniel Morel, who handles publicity for the publisher.