Activism

JK Rowling stumps for Israel — what would Harry Potter do?

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JK Rowling has staked out territory as a prominent face of the anti-BDS movement. She’s signed on to a heavily publicized open letter in the Guardian, “Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts“, encouraging “dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians” in a “wider” cultural and creative community.

The Rowling normalization/dialogue letter, with 150 co-signers, opens with a reference to the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, published by the Guardian last February. It is a pledge to boycott Israel culturally and professionally until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights — signed by over 1,090 British artists representing every field of the arts.

Anti Boycott letter co-signer Sir Eric Pickles - Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel (Photo: Joe Giddens)
Anti Boycott letter co-signer Sir Eric Pickles – Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel (Photo: Joe Giddens)

The cosigners of Rowling’s letter are also promoted as “UK Artists“, however the list of signatories include a slew of Tory politicians including (but not limited to) Sir Eric Pickles, ex-chairman of the Conservative party and current Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), MP David Burrowes, officer of CFI, MP Mike Freer (who resigned his position as parliamentary private secretary to Nick Boles in order to vote against the motion to recognize Palestine), and MP’s Bob BlackmanGuto Bebb — all conservative members of CFI. A regular Who’s Who list of BICOM‘s favorite UK politicians!

From the letter:

Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory, and will not further peace. Open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance, and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.

And, allegedly they support two states. Were MP’s Oliver Dowden and John Howell (also Vice Chairman of CFI), both conservative cosigners of the letter, promoting “greater understanding and mutual acceptance” while only expressing “support for Israel against terror attacks” , cited today on CFI’s website? Many of these politicians have been on several CFI delegations to Israel. Sorry, this has lobby written all over it — a distinctly non grassroots vibe — and the timing is completely tone deaf

Maajid Nawaz, founder of the so called “counter-extremism” neocon think tank Quilliam is a cosigner too.

And guess what? A new site has been launched called “Culture for Coexistence“, the letter’s cosigners “declare our support for the launch and aims” of the network:

We seek to inform and encourage dialogue about Israel in the wider cultural and creative community. Whilst we may not all share the same views on the policies of the Israeli government, we all share a desire for peaceful coexistence.

What about Palestinians? There is not one Palestinian co-signer on the list.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has responded to the Rowling and friends “dialogue” initiative that condemns the boycott of Israel: 

PACBI spokesperson:

“Some British cultural figures, including known Israel apologists, seem intent to revive Thatcher’s ‘constructive  engagement’, equating the colonisers with the colonised, which in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa proved to be downright unethical and complicit.”

“Earlier this year, more than one thousand British cultural figures, a list of who’s who in film, literature and performing arts, signed a cultural boycott pledge against Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid until it respects international law. That impressive list, which included some of the best known Jewish writers and artists in the UK, endorsed BDS as the most effective and ethically sound strategy to end Israel’s oppression and to stand in solidarity with the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

“Earlier this year, more than one thousand British cultural figures, a list of who’s who in film, literature and performing arts, signed a cultural boycott pledge against Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid until it respects international law. That impressive list, which included some of the best known Jewish writers and artists in the UK, endorsed BDS as the most effective and ethically sound strategy to end Israel’s oppression and to stand in solidarity with the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

The original letter can be found here: artistsforpalestine.org.uk. Signatories included Brian Eno, Jarvis Cocker, Kate Tempest, Roger Waters, Richard Ashcroft and: 

Theatre writers/directors Sir Jonathan Miller, Mark Ravenhill, Caryl Churchill, Dominic Cooke CBE (former Royal Court AD), David Edgar (major British playwright who has previously opposed the boycott), Vicky Featherstone, current Royal Court AD, Phyllida Lloyd (theatre and film director), Mark Ravenhill, Bonnie Greer, Caryl Churchill, David Edgar 

– Musicians Kate Tempest (big name), Scoobius Pip, Richard Ashcroft (formerly the Verve), Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt, Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner), Roger Waters, Peggy Seeger, Dick Gaughan, Matthew Herbert

– Actors Rizwan Ahmed, Miriam Margolyes, Sam West, Anna Carteret, Harriet Walter DBE, Maxine Peake, Julie Christie, Maggie Steed, David Calder, Andy de la Tour, Timothy West

– Writers William Dalrymple, Aminatta Forna, Bonnie Greer, Mark Haddon, Hari Kunzru, Liz Lochhead (poet laureate in Scotland), Jimmy McGovern, China Mieville, Andrew O’Hagan, Laurie Penny, Michael Rosen, Gillian Slovo (former director of PEN International), Ahdaf Soueif, Marina Warner, Benjamin Zephaniah 

– Film/tv directors Mike Hodges (Get Carter), Peter Kosminsky (White Oleander), Jimmy McGovern, Michael Radford, Mike Leigh (recent BAFTA fellowship award winner), Ken Loach, Kim Longinotto, Penny Wolcock (documentary filmmaker), Julien Temple (Jubilee), Waris Hussein, Tarik Ali, Asif Kapadia, Carol Morley 

– Architects Peter Ahrends, Will Alsop, 

– Visual Arts Phyllida Barlow, John Berger, Mona Hatoum.

 Comedians Mark Thomas, Jeremy Hardy, Alexei Sayle

 

What would Harry Potter do?

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Immensely disappointing to see this letter in the Guardian this morning. JKR seems to have forgotten the idiocy of the religious fundamentalists in the USA who wanted to ban Harry Potter because of its promotion of “magic”. And doesn’t realise that many Israelis, especially the settlers, are soulmates of Ian… Read more »

I will always remember the late autumn of 2015 as “The Zionist Big Muddy”. And hip-deep already, the fools will press on.

A half century of dialogue has worked so well why not keep going forever.

I always thought her books were overrated and, frankly, not very good. Nor is her writing. Apparently, her critical thinking skills are equally shoddy.

I bet they have never tried to engage in “open dialogue and interaction” with Zionists; if they atually try to do that they will quickly realise thay are backing the wrong horse.