Boycotting of Israel


Sir, – Gerard Donovan (May 26th) truly scrapes the bottom of the barrel in his attempts to undermine Raymond Deane, accusing him of “intimidation” – without producing any credible evidence – and suggesting that he’s unworthy of Aosdána membership (Opinion, May 26th).

It really isn’t good enough to attack the messenger rather than deal with the message itself, that Israel’s conduct is unacceptable.

I congratulate Dr Deane and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign on their cultural boycott campaign. It is one that very effectively pressures Israel, raises the price of its occupation and gives all of us the opportunity to support Palestinians in a struggle that demands nothing more than the chance to live a normal life unhindered by military occupation. – Yours, etc,

LORRAINE COURTNEY, Townsend Street, Dublin 2.

A chara, – In response to Gerard Donovan (Opinion, May 26th) I wish to respond to misleading assertions he made regarding 1, The Aosdána resolution of 2007 and 2, my open letter to the Israeli embassy, published in Indymedia ( article/ 81745).

1. In consequence of my visit to Israel in 2006, I approached Raymond Deane to second the following resolution before the Aosdána assembly: “Mindful of the 4th of August 2006 call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions, Aosdána wishes to encourage Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in such cooperation, always bearing in mind the undeniable courage of those Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals who oppose their own government’s illegal policies towards the Palestinians.” 2. I wrote an open letter to the Israeli ambassador in response to an article in the Irish Independent, March 29th, 2007. The article from the Israeli embassy stated that the Aosdána decision was fundamentally wrong, based on misunderstanding and misinformation.

I wrote him a detailed letter of my experiences on my visit to Israel and the West Bank. I ended the letter as follows: “If you really believe I have been misinformed and am misleading others, why do you not invite every single woman and every women’s group I met in Israel and the West Bank, let them tell you what they said to me. Are you implying because we are women we have no minds of our own and cannot see what we look at and what we experience? The Israeli ambassador did not respond to my letter. – Is mise,

MARGARETTA D’ARCY, Member of Aosdána, St Brigid’s Place Lower, Galway.

Sir, – Gerard Donovan’s article (Opinion, May 26th) is a very long and extraordinarily abusive attack on people who politely asked him to accede to a Palestinian request not to perform in Israel. Taken on its own, its publication constitutes a serious error of judgment.

Moreover, it comes as the culmination of a month of some of the most biased and misleading reporting of any story I have ever seen in The Irish Times.

In article after article, the Palestinian origins of and international support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel have been ignored, and Irish activists have been accused, without a shred of objective evidence, of “venom”, “threats”, “pressure” and “intimidation” of artists, simply for drawing their attention to the campaign.

Decent people can differ on boycotting Israel. But only a few people in this country have been truly served by your newspaper’s sustained vilification of those on one side of the debate, and they work in the Israeli embassy. It is not too late for The Irish Times to review carefully how it has been drawn into producing such a trivialised, personalised and deeply partisan version of a serious international issue, and to start from scratch to report it properly. – Yours, etc,

HARRY BROWNE, School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology, Aungier Street, Dublin 2.

Sir, – Last February the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign addressed the following letter to the novelist Gerard Donovan: “Dear Gerard Donovan – I am pasting below an appeal from PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to all writers planning to participate in the International Writers’ Festival to be held in Jerusalem next May.

“There is nothing that I can add to this eloquent appeal, save to stress (this is often misunderstood, sometimes deliberately) that the call for a cultural boycott of apartheid Israel is not directed against individual artists but against the Israeli state, which is deemed to be whitewashed by the participation of international artists in events subsidised by that state.

“Let me also draw your attention to the pledge signed, to date, by 216 Irish artists ( who refuse to perform, exhibit, read, etc. in the state of Israel until that state abides by international law and international humanitarian law and ends its criminal practices against the Palestinian people. Yours sincerely – Dr Raymond Deane”.

I fail to see how an appeal to conscience can be construed by Gerard Donovan as “intimidation”, “threat” and an “unjust attack” from which Article 40 of the Constitution guarantees him protection (Opinion, May 26th). – Yours, etc,

MARTIN O’QUIGLEY, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Chairperson, Dame Street, Dublin 2.

Sir, – As an Irish writer, I believe that writers and artists have a duty to confront injustice wherever it may arise. In some quarters this notion must seem quaint.

The destruction of the Palestinian people by Israel needs no reiteration here.

Over 200 Irish musicians and writers have signed up to a cultural boycott of Israel.

I support this boycott without reservation. The boycott is working, as witness the increasingly frantic attempts by a well-oiled Israeli propaganda machine to undermine it. The Palestinians do not possess a similar sophisticated campaign through which to impress upon the world their utter hopelessness and despair.

The courage and humanity of Irish men and women engaged in the arts and literature has helped to lend them a voice.

Of this they should be justly proud. – Yours, etc,

FRED JOHNSTON, Circular Road, Galway.