Thursday, May 17, 2012

On 16th May the Irish Times published my letter answering the usually reliable Mary Fitzgerald's disappointing article on cultural boycott in that paper, alongside two excellent letters by Laurence Davis and Conor McCarthy and a grotesque piece of Zionist propaganda from one David Fine. While it's gratifying that these letters of ours got published, it must be pointed out that this was the fourth letter I had sent the paper attempting to correct its misleading reporting on the issue of Dervish's cancelled tour of Israel. It is regrettable that the Irish Times chooses to wait two weeks before correcting an error, while in the meantime publishing further letters and reports compounding that error.

Here is my letter:

Sir, – While Mary Fitzgerald’s commentary on the Dervish affair (Weekend Review, May 12th) has the virtue of a measured tone, it is a great pity that the author failed to research it more deeply, or indeed to consult directly with any of those involved in implementing the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of the Israeli state. Thus we read that “Cathy Jordan... added that she ‘wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us’, presumably a reference to the torrent of messages left on Dervish’s Facebook page and other websites calling for the band to pull out”.

In fact, no venom was directed at Dervish prior to the cancellation of their tour, least of all from Palestinian rights activists. The venom followed the announcement of this cancellation, and came exclusively from Israel’s supporters. These easily verifiable truths have been turned upside down in the subsequent artificially generated controversy. Dervish’s initial statement announcing cancellation, cited by Ms Fitzgerald, made no mention whatever of intimidation.

In quoting Howard Jacobson, Ms Fitzgerald should have pointed out that he is, notoriously, a dedicated Zionist for whom Israel can do no wrong.

The quotations from various writers opposed to the boycott (a convenient position when it comes to collecting lucrative prizes sponsored by the Israeli state) should have been balanced with quotations from the many artists who support it (Ken Loach, Roger Waters, Cassandra Wilson, etc).

The author could also have mentioned the Palestinian organisation PACBI (Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), part of the BDS National Council (BNC), which has published detailed guidelines for the conduct of a cultural boycott campaign, including reasons for the Palestinians’ forceful rejection of the idea that you can “balance” performing for the oppressor by tossing a performance in the direction of the oppressed.

Finally, or first and foremost, the author could have pointed out the ultimate justification for any civil society boycott: the failure of governments to take action against Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, even when international law and their own laws mandate such action. – Yours, etc,


No comments:

Post a Comment