TCD conference on boycott of Israel


Sir, – In reference to the Trinity College conference on the academic boycott of Israel, Jeremy O’Friel asks whether “it will be following this with a series of conferences on similar boycotts of China, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the other hundred-odd countries whose human rights violations exceed those in Israel” (September 9th).

Leaving aside the latter very questionable assumption (by what calculus does Mr O’Friel measure relative degrees of inhumanity?), the answer is simple: with the possible but doubtful exception of China, none of these countries exploit culture for propaganda purposes to the degree that Israel does, a country the foreign ministry of which explicitly stated in 2005 that it “sees no difference between propaganda and culture”.

As for “trying to understand how two noble peoples, such as the Palestinians and Israelis, struggle to find a way to live in harmony”, Mr O’Friel would be better off trying to understand how such harmonious cohabitation can come about without an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and the de facto support for that occupation from western governments. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.