Salman Rushdie says a new Palestinian state would be ‘Taliban-like’

Sir Salman Rushdie has argued that if a new Palestinian state was formed “right now” it would mean the creation of a “Taliban-like state”.

The Indian-born British-American Midnight’s Children author, 76, said that he has “argued for a Palestinian state for most of my life – since the 1980s, probably. Right now, if there was a Palestinian state, it would be run by Hamas, and that would make it a Taliban-like state, and it would be a client state of Iran”.

Speaking on the Places and Words podcast from German broadcaster RBB, Rushdie went on to ask: “Is that what the progressive movements of the Western left wish to create? To have another Taliban, another Ayatollah-like state, in the Middle East, right next to Israel?”

He continued: “The fact is that I think any human being right now has to be distressed by what is happening in Gaza because of the quantity of innocent death. I would just like some of the protests to mention Hamas. Because that’s where this started, and Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It’s very strange for young, progressive student politics to kind of support a fascist terrorist group.”

The author, who narrowly avoided death but lost sight in his right eye among other life-changing injuries after he was repeatedly stabbed on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in New York in August 2022, went on to speak about the “student upheaval” at New York University, where he a faculty member.

“I feel that there’s not a lot of deep thought happening,” said Rushdie. “There’s an emotional reaction to the death in Gaza, and that’s absolutely right. But when it slides over towards antisemitism and sometimes to actual support of Hamas, then it’s very problematic”.

Salman Rushdie in 2024 (Getty)
Salman Rushdie in 2024 (Getty)

Rushdie was appearing on the podcast to discuss his memoir, Knife, in which he recounts his recovery from the knife attack.

The attack occurred 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the leader of Iran, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death after deeming his novel The Satanic Verses blasphemous.

Earlier this month, Rushdie revealed he had spoken with a digitally generated version of the man who stabbed him for a new BBC documentary about the attack.

In BBC2’s Through A Glass Darkly, Rushdie has an AI-imagined conversation with his attacker, Hadi Matar, who is currently in custody for the author’s attempted murder.