Despite its appalling policy towards Palestinians, boycotting Israeli culture is not the answer

As the son of a Holocaust survivor I came to see cultural boycotts as wrongheaded

“It may be scant consolation to the victims of Israeli abuse but boycotting Israeli culture isn’t the answer.” Photograph: Stockbyte/Getty Images

“It may be scant consolation to the victims of Israeli abuse but boycotting Israeli culture isn’t the answer.” Photograph: Stockbyte/Getty Images

What do cultural boycotts entail for those countries under sanction; are they effective and can they be morally justified? As a second-generation survivor of the Holocaust whose family witnessed the discrimination of Nazi persecution in extremis, I have grave reservations that cultural boycotts can ever achieve their objectives without fomenting prejudice against the individual.

In the mid-1980s one of the most well known challenges to a cultural boycott of a nation came to the attention of the international community. Paul Simon’s Graceland album was heavily influenced by South African rhythms and the American singer-songwriter invited black South African musicians to record the album with him. When he decided to tour South Africa with the same musicians, Simon faced resistance from many anti-apartheid supporters and the ANC who had called for a cultural and economic boycott of South Africa.

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