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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: 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?

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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83 Responses

  1. John O on October 23, 2015, 1:31 pm

    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 Paisley rather than of cuddly Rabbi Lionel Blue.

    • Emory Riddle on October 23, 2015, 4:02 pm

      You can bet your bippy that Ms. Rowling did not come up with this idea and then write this letter. She should be pressed in just who came to her and what kind of pressure was applied.

      • DaBakr on October 24, 2015, 9:37 pm


        you sound just like the skeptics that could not believe that a single mother on welfare could have come up with the Harry Potter novels on her own. she is one of the richest people and the richest woman in GB. I would think that if pressure were to be applied that it would be more likely coming from her then applied to her. considering her body of writing she could easily conceive of a simple ideology opposing the bigoted BDS movement. You may or may not be a woman but doubting the power of ms. rowling’s ability to conceive of and write a letter definitely makes you an anti-feminist and maybe even a simpleton.

      • annie on October 24, 2015, 11:33 pm

        doubting the power of ms. rowling’s ability to conceive of and write a letter definitely makes you an anti-feminist and maybe even a simpleton.

        it’s highly unlikely rowling conceived of this initiative nor does she even claim she did. rowlings finances are probably managed by Neil Blair (co signer of letter) who directs rowling’s charity as well as UK Friends of The Abraham Fund Initiatives (promoting “equality and co-existence between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews”) via The Blair Partnership

      • Emory Riddle on October 26, 2015, 9:50 am

        What does it tell us — Hell, what does it tell DaBakr — about the validity of the worldview of the Israeli apologists that they have to be so dishonest in their arguments?

        I noted that Ms. Rowling did not come up with this idea and did not write this letter, an opinion that has proved to be quite true upon later research.

        DaBakr then pretends — quite dishonestly — that I opined that Ms. Rowling was not capable of conceiving and writing such a letter. Something not only did I not write but do not believe. Any competent 8th grader could have come up with such an amateurish attempt to portray BDS as something it is not. Likely you can go to several Zionist websites and get this type of canned language” “singling out Israel”, “divisive and discriminatory”, “will not further peace”.

  2. Mooser on October 23, 2015, 2:15 pm

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

  3. oldgeezer on October 23, 2015, 2:21 pm

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

    • annie on October 23, 2015, 2:31 pm

      my original draft (somewhat) took this satirical angle oldgeezer . it was the first thing that occurred to me — but that was before googling the dozen or so politicians on the list and realizing they were all staunch conservatives and so many of then being officers and members of cfi (some for over a decade). there was one labor politician, that’s all, the rest tories. and i thought wtf is that all about? since when do conservative MP’s line up to add their names to a list of artists. what a scam. and the way they wrote “israel and the palestinians” just struck me as weird. anyway, the rest of it wrote itself and my satire kept dropping until there wasn’t room for it.

      but seriously, you’d think after decades someone would have thought of this brilliant idea before, no? open dialogue and interaction? why didn’t we think of that ;)

      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 3:13 pm

        I wonder if “Sir Eric Pickles” will be able to add another honorific just aft of amidship on his appellation? One that indicates purity.

      • Bumblebye on October 23, 2015, 6:01 pm

        Lol Mooser!
        He already looks and sounds like a character out of some Dickens novel – probably Hard Times.
        I shall now think of him as Kosher Pickles – especially next time he’s in trouble.

      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 6:33 pm

        “I shall now think of him as Kosher Pickles”

        That’s funny! I was going to call him “99 and 44 one-hundredths-percent pure Pickles” (after Ivory Soap) but yours is much better. Sir Kosher Pickles it is. And here comes his son, Dill, and daughter Sweet.

      • Kris on October 23, 2015, 6:58 pm

        Sir Kosher Pickles and his offspring are probably gherkins.

  4. jenin on October 23, 2015, 2:22 pm

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

    • ckg on October 23, 2015, 5:13 pm

      Yale Literature Professor Harold Bloom once commented on one of her novels:

      I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character “stretched his legs.” I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling’s mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.

      But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn’t, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn’t that a good thing?

      It is not. “Harry Potter” will not lead our children on to Kipling’s “Just So Stories” or his “Jungle Book.” It will not lead them to Thurber’s “Thirteen Clocks” or Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” or Lewis Carroll’s “Alice.”

    • Krauss on October 23, 2015, 5:30 pm

      Her books are brilliant if you read them for what they are: aimed at pre-teens.

      • annie on October 23, 2015, 5:39 pm

        my son loved them when he was 8-9.

      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 6:02 pm

        “my son loved them when he was 8-9.”

        Oh gosh, I remember, I loved “The Hardy Boys” books. But I wanted to be Nancy Drew! But now I look at them and don’t get the same feelings. Maybe it was just the sheer pleasure of reading at that pre-teen age, when the pace, vocab, and character’s matches the reader’s ability to comprehend (not always a sure thing at that age. and a challenge for an author to accomplish) and the world in the book comes alive. The first times that happens for young readers it’s magical.
        And the same book might evoke nothing but snickers later on.

      • annie on October 23, 2015, 6:57 pm

        no nancy drew for me. i didn’t like to read as a child or even very much as a teen. boring! i didn’t like dolls or many inside activities except on rainy days (which i was not a fan of). i liked playing w/friends in the woods and creeks and riding my bike. but i did like being read to when i was a young child (eloise and pippi longstockings were my favorite books then).

      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 7:16 pm

        “no nancy drew for me.”

        Me too. I got too old to put on my Mom’s dresses and blouses and heels and crawl around the yard with a magnifying glass solving make believe crimes. It was time I grew up and started committing crimes of my own.

        I loved Pippi Longstockings, too! Oh gosh, I’ll have to look on the web. Hadn’t thought of the Pippi books in years. Thanks.

      • annie on October 23, 2015, 7:21 pm


      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 7:42 pm


        What’s so funny? I did not continue my Nancy Drew kick beyond the age appropriate age. I went on to emulating more mature detectives, like Mrs. Marple. But now I’m just a slippered Hercule Pantaloon, I guess

      • michelle on October 23, 2015, 8:35 pm

        like people all stories can be pulled apart
        that doesn’t discount the useful lessons inside
        those that listen will hear
        G-d Bless

      • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 8:42 pm

        “like people all stories can be pulled apart”

        Please, no! I don’t want to be drawn and quartered! All my suits are made for a whole person.

      • Kay24 on October 23, 2015, 10:14 pm

        Anyone here enjoyed Enid Blytons like I did? I just loved her books, and also the William series.

        They were British authors too. When I was growing up the stories were all light hearted, fairies, and feel good stories.

      • RoHa on October 23, 2015, 11:45 pm

        Blyton’s “Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” novels weren’t fairy stories. They were crime novels. I enjoyed them. You know I read a lot of William books, but I also enjoyed the Teddy Lester series. (I was, much later, shocked to discover how old they were. When I read them I thought they were set in the 1930s. In fact, the author died in 1915.) Kemlo was another favourite.

        It was from those authors I learned, by induction, the fundamentals of English grammar.

        Of course, when is was 13 I read Molesworth, but by then I was too set in my linguistic ways to be anything other than amused by his spelling and grammar.

      • Kay24 on October 24, 2015, 9:52 am

        RoHa glad someone shares my fond memories of Enid Blyton. No of course not the Seven Series and others like the Island of Adventure (or was it River?) were mystery books, but she did have plenty of fairies and goblins in her Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series. Having no television at that time, I had vivid imagination reading her books. I grew up in a commonwealth nation, and was exposed to British culture and education too, and Enid Blyton was part of it.

      • Mooser on October 24, 2015, 10:57 am

        “It was from those authors I learned, by induction, the fundamentals of English grammar.”

        RoHa, you need to spend some time playing with matches in a Wodehouse. Then you’ll be ready to cast Perelman before swine.

      • just on October 24, 2015, 11:15 am

        Kay24~ coincidentally, Maureen Lipman once played Enid in “Sunny Stories”…

      • Kay24 on October 24, 2015, 2:15 pm

        Just was that before or after her skirmish with people in a nail salon?

        I hope she goes and lives in Israel and NOT the US as she has said to avoid “anti-semitism”.

      • just on October 24, 2015, 2:20 pm

        Heh~ it was in 1992, well before she went fully ziobonkers in public…

      • RoHa on October 25, 2015, 1:00 am

        I didn’t start reading Wodehouse until I was around 9 or 10, but I regard him as setting a standard for English prose that other writers fail to live up to.

        Alas, I know the name Perelman, but never read anything by him. I don’t think I have ever come across any of his writing anywhere. I do know that no less a personage than Frank Muir admired his work.

      • echinococcus on October 25, 2015, 3:24 am


        Perhaps the origins of your prescriptivist bend should be sought in your reading Blyton & Co.?
        I am still smarting from the fact that I entirely missed the acknowledged children’s books; I slept in the “Library”. I remember well my very first “real books”: Saki, Bertrand Russell’s Nightmares, “Famous Libertines and Courtesans of the XVIIIth Century”, etc. Possibly that’s why I like my Grammar as she is spoken, i.e. in the nude.

      • Mooser on October 25, 2015, 1:50 pm

        “I didn’t start reading Wodehouse until I was around 9 or 10,”

        You must have been a very advanced reader. I started out as a child but at 9 or ten I wouldn’t have gotten all the filthy double-ententes and salubrious puns.

        Perelman? Before they made Perelman, they broke the mold. I’ll say one thing, he’s no H. Rider Haggard!

  5. bryan on October 23, 2015, 2:35 pm

    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.

  6. Scott on October 23, 2015, 2:37 pm

    One never knows whether signers such as Rowling oppose the boycott (which I feel ambivalent about) and favor genuine negotiations, forcing a viable two state solution, or are just pretending to favor negotiations, and actually favor status quo and occupation.
    I’d give Thatcher more of a pass– she did quite forcefully support two states rhetorically, which was more than other Western leaders were willing to do during her era. I know she is a demon figure to the left, but on Israel Palestine, her views were relatively good.

    • John O on October 23, 2015, 3:16 pm

      It is a curious anomaly in Thatcher’s CV. She represented a parliamentary constituency with a high proportion of Jewish voters. She was close to the then chief rabbi of the UK and commonwealth, Immanuel Jakobovits, and made him a member of the House of Lords. But she never forgot that the Israeli leaders with whom she dealt were once terrorists who had killed British soldiers, and treated them with much the same disdain as the leaders of the IRA.

    • Krauss on October 23, 2015, 5:32 pm

      Stop your nonsense, Scott. It’s 2015. The 2SS is not only dead, it has long since been dead. Anyone who insists on “negotiations” is calling for permanent Apartheid.

      You could get away in the 1990s when the amount of settlers were fewer, to pretend the situation could be solved. That has since long passed. Apartheid is here and anyone calling for negotiations at this stage is either ignorant, which you are not, or morally amputated.

      • Sibiriak on October 24, 2015, 1:01 am

        Krauss: It’s 2015. The 2SS is not only dead, it has long since been dead.


        Two states already exist, Israel and Palestine. Palestine is under Israeli occupation. The PLO has declared the borders of Palestine to be the “Green Line” (“pre-1967 borders”). The PLO has recognized Israel within 1967 borders (a recognition not dependent on the results of any negotiations.) The recognition of two states and the illegality of the Wall, settlements and annexation in the Occupied Territories is becoming more, not less, entrenched in international law and political consensus.

        The BDS movement calls for the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967.

        Suppose BDS were to actually achieve that goal. In that case, Palestine would become a de facto as well as de jure state– alongside Israel– freed from occupation, validated by international law, recognized by the UN, and recognized by a host of other states. The two state concept would become a concrete reality.

        If BDS succeeds, so does the 2SS idea.

      • Scott on October 24, 2015, 11:38 am

        I know the 2ss is unlikely. But it could, in principle, right now be imposed by the US and EU in a year’s time. And that would save both parties a bloody, generation long civil war with an unknown outcome.

      • Mooser on October 24, 2015, 12:22 pm

        “And that would save both parties a bloody, generation long civil war with an unknown outcome.”

        Let’s see, a “generation” is usually taken to be about 25 years, amirite? Sure, the next twenty-five go-rounds ought to see a huge increase in the number of Zionist (and willing to fight and die) Jews, support for Israel and Zionism through out the world, and just a huge increase world-wide in Jewish-Zionist population and commitment (pace “tokyobk”) which back Zionism.
        Yup, the Palestinians should concede now.

      • diasp0ra on October 24, 2015, 12:38 pm


        It really wouldn’t.

        A state imposed like that would have 0 sovereignty, and would still be subservient to Israel. Not even to mention the refugees that will basically kiss any rights goodbye or hope of return.

        We don’t want a state just to have a state. Peace and Israel’s current regime are irreconcilable.

      • echinococcus on October 26, 2015, 3:08 am

        “Two states already exist, Israel and Palestine”

        So should we stop believing our lying eyes, now that you come with this outlandish idea?
        Whichever way anybody looks, only one state is to be seen in all of Palestine. Or perhaps your definition of “state” is streetcar, bimetallism or any random word out of the dictionary.
        Or perhaps this is a theological discussion, one involving immaterial concepts. I mean, one of them is not a concept but a very real nightmare. Where is the other one?

  7. chocopie on October 23, 2015, 2:53 pm

    Very disappointed in JK Rowling. Another PEP.

  8. diasp0ra on October 23, 2015, 3:08 pm

    It’s like these people have never opened a history book.

    These same exact arguments, and I mean LITERALLY the exact same arguments were made about South Africa.

    Oh the boycott would harm the Black Africans more than the Boers! Oh singling out SA is discriminatory! What about Cambodia and China, they are worse! Black South Africans have a better life in SA than in any other African country! Blahblahblah..

    Disappointed in her. But I know she’ll retract such sentiments in a decade or so when Israel becomes just as stigmatized as SA was. We can see the process already beginning. The boycott movement for SA took decades to solidify into anything meaningful, in that regard BDS is actually gaining momentum much faster.

  9. ivri on October 23, 2015, 3:32 pm

    “What would Harry potter do?”
    Well, that`s not so hard to guess: Isn`t the main theme there “small but superior” fighting “many but evil”?

    • Mooser on October 23, 2015, 7:29 pm

      ” Isn`t the main theme there “small but superior” fighting “many but evil”?”

      “Irvi” the “Hectoring Archeologists” thread is still open.

      And BTW, who are you quoting?

  10. Rusty Pipes on October 23, 2015, 3:33 pm

    As a former Amnesty International staffer, surely Rowling knows the reality that Palestinians live. I’m wondering if recent Scottish politics have influenced her circle of friends and allies. She came out strongly against Scottish independence, giving financial support to the campaign — so she may be experiencing some animosity from the Scottish left. Support for BDS is even higher in Scotland than in England.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 24, 2015, 6:36 am

      As I said below, Rowling is a staunch supporter of the Labour Party, which was annihilated in Scotland in the elections last year. And as you say, she was also very much opposed to Scottish independence.

      My view is that Rowling is a small ‘c’ conservative. The Labour Party barely qualifies as left-wing these days (or at least it didn’t until the election of Corbyn, who I’m willing to bet Rowling does not support). Rowling was a big supporter of Labour when it was still being led by war criminal Blair, and she is a personal friend of former PM Gordon Brown, a member of Labour Friends of Israel. I’m not aware that she has ever supported any genuinely left-wing or radical causes. She’s pretty much the stereotypical ”champagne socialist”.

  11. Kay24 on October 23, 2015, 4:48 pm

    JKR like so many other writers who need to be published, get publicity, and appear in countless shows in the media, must have been told that she better show her undying support, or else she will not be able to sell her work.

    Most probably this same method is applied to our celebrities, authors, and anyone who wants to make money through publicity.

    • W.Jones on October 23, 2015, 6:58 pm

      If you want to be cynical, you could imagine that her books idealize children performing sorcery, are mass marketed to mainstream the occult to them, and are part of an “occult faction” in the entertainment industry establishment.

      As innocent as it may sound, many believe that another Harry Potter book is another attempt at the entertainment industry making the occult fashionable again. One of those people is Steve Wohlberg. …In his book, Hour of the Witch, he unmasks the subtle bewitching of American youth.

      Hollywood is helping. With television shows such as Charmed and movies like Bewitched, Wicca is almost becoming chic. This upward trend is older than the first Harry Potter release in 1998 but not by much. Wohlberg details how covens were small and spread out across the world through the ‘50s to the ‘80s. He credits Hollywood’s interest in the ‘90s with bringing Wicca into the mainstream. According to Wohlberg, the pagan community is taking notice and using the popularity of Harry Potter to recruit more witches and wizards. “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard is written by a master occultist. He’s a real wizard, and he wrote this book specifically for Harry Potter readers, who want to learn about the real thing.”

      See also: Mass Media and Religious Identity: A Case Study of Young Witches, by Helen A. Berger, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

      So to a cynic, JKR could be imagined as part of an “occult faction” of the entertainment industry who, like other major non-radical figures in the Industry (unlike, say, Michael Moore), has certain establishment political limitations.

    • lonely rico on October 23, 2015, 9:44 pm


      JKR like so many other writers who need to be published, get publicity, and appear in countless shows in the media, must have been told that she better show her undying support, or else she will not be able to sell her work.

      I don’t think so Kay. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling’s fortune at £560 million, ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in the United Kingdom. Her wealth has without doubt grown since then. In October 2010, Rowling was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors.

      She can get published, get publicity, appear when and wherever she likes.

      The corruption of her soul must be found elsewhere.

      • W.Jones on October 24, 2015, 11:22 am

        Like in writing children’s novels that promote the occult?

      • Mooser on October 24, 2015, 12:26 pm

        “The corruption of her soul must be found elsewhere.”

        “Like in writing children’s novels that promote the occult?” “WJones”

        Of course, that must be it! And, uh, while you’re at it, look up the definition of “cynical” wouldja?

      • Kay24 on October 24, 2015, 2:12 pm

        Someone said she has given a lot of her money to charity, I really don’t know. She most probably will keep writing, and without the zionist media, she will not be able to get the publicity she needs to sell her work. They can easily

      • W.Jones on October 25, 2015, 8:06 pm


        1) believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.
        synonyms: skeptical, doubtful, distrustful, suspicious, disbelieving; More
        pessimistic, negative, world-weary, disillusioned, disenchanted, jaundiced, sardonic
        contemptuous; mocking.

        2) concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them (GOOGLE DEFINITIONS).

        A trusting view would be that she just likes to write great novels, which happen to be about witchcraft, and that the novels’ success in the market is due basically to her literary skills, rather than to financial leverage.
        The cynical view would reach an opposing conclusion.

      • Mooser on October 25, 2015, 8:34 pm

        “A trusting view would be that she just likes to write great novels, which happen to be about witchcraft, and that the novels’ success in the market is due basically to her literary skills, rather than to financial leverage.
        The cynical view would reach an opposing conclusion.”

        So the “cynical” view is that Rowling writes these books to spread the malign influence and power of the occult over our young? Okay, got it. I’m not sure that’s a kind of cynicism I can get on board with. I’m much, much too cynical about the occult.

      • W.Jones on October 27, 2015, 1:11 pm


        To explain better:

        “A trusting view would be that she just likes to write great novels, which happen to be about witchcraft, and that the novels’ success in the market is due basically to her literary skills, rather than to financial leverage. The cynical view would reach an opposing conclusion.”

        So to take a very cynical, rather than trusting view of her success, it would be that her novels aren’t great, it’s not a coincidence that her mass marketed books are about the occult, and that her literary skills aren’t what mainly spread her books, but rather her success has more to do with connections or financial leverage. The entertainment industry has a large selection of the occult that it mass markets, with occult groups like Marilyn Manson.

        “Skulls, Satan and Dave Grohl: Inside Mysterious Occult-Rock Band Ghost”
        Rolling Stone

        “Exorcists warn Vatican over ‘beautiful young vampires'”
        The Independent

        The proliferation of “beautiful young vampires” in TV series and Hollywood films including True Blood and the Twilight movies is encouraging young people to dabble with occult forces, a leading authority on demonic possession has warned a Vatican-backed exorcism course.

        You don’t have to actually believe in the occult to notice the involvement of the entertainment industry in promoting it. I don’t know why Hollywood and the Industry do what they do. The trusting view of the Free Market is that she is mass marketed because her books are excellent, while the cynical view would be that JKR is part of an establishment industry that aims to promote and mass market her genre.

      • Mooser on October 27, 2015, 3:20 pm

        “while the cynical view would be that JKR is part of an establishment industry that aims to promote and mass market her genre.”

        Well sure, almost every artist is. But you must admit (unless, perhaps, you are cynical about it) that whatever else they are or are not, JK Rowling’s books are clean! There’s hardly any smooching in them, let alone anything else. Just remember what it was like before JK Rowling and her harmless wizards and witches came along, all anybody gave the pre-teens and teen was sex, sex, and more sex. Be a pretty cynical person who would like to go back to that!

  12. Krauss on October 23, 2015, 5:34 pm

    Remember, this is a woman who worked for Amnesty international. Just saying whenever you hear this hasbara about the supposedly “anti-Israel” human rights organisations. But there’s more on amnesty. Finkelstein in particular details their Israel bias when they do their reports.

  13. ckg on October 23, 2015, 7:21 pm

    Two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson, who played Professor Sybill Trelawney in the Harry Potter films, would certainly disagree with JKR. Thompson was among a group of British actors calling on the Globe Theatre in London to withdraw an invitation to the Israeli National Theatre in 2012

  14. michelle on October 23, 2015, 7:42 pm

    evil comes from within as well as goodness
    seems like there must be equal footing first then debate
    one questions why Israel and America reject the offer
    of the placement of a buffer in the form of a neutral peace force
    to support peace/the greater good one must support Palestine
    Palestine isn’t ment to be Israels house elf
    G-d Bless

  15. a blah chick on October 23, 2015, 8:18 pm

    I loved the Harry Potter books and have a niece who’s read them all at least 4 times. Consequently I am deeply disappointed in her position on the boycott. I too was against a cultural boycott twenty years ago but my views have changed. The problem is that Israel uses these cultural exchanges not to share but to recruit goodwill. And nowhere do we see Palestinians represented. I can only hope that Ms Rowling, like me, will ultimately see the light.

    You know who else signed? Simon Schama, and we know where he stands.

  16. Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 24, 2015, 6:27 am

    Maajid Nawaz’ participation proves what many of us had long suspected – Quilliam is basically a right-wing, pro-Israel group with a few ‘house Muslims’ for cover. However, J.K. Rowling is a very high profile donor to the Labour Party (she gave them a million – yes, a million – quid a few years ago), so I’m kind of surprised to see her sign a letter which was clearly a Conservative ‘Friends of Israel’ initiative. Hilary Mantel, though she created a bit of a media storm with her comments about Kate Middleton a while back, seems to be a bit of an establishment figure at heart – she happily received a ‘Damehood’ from the queen last year – so her participation isn’t all that surprising.

    What also isn’t surprising is that The Guardian featured this letter prominently on its home page. I don’t remember them doing so for the original ‘Artists for Palestine’ letter several months ago. They did publish it, but tucked away somewhere where you’d have to struggle to find it.

    • MHughes976 on October 25, 2015, 7:22 am

      The Queen herself has never visited Israel and must have resisted substantial pressure to do so.

  17. Ossinev on October 24, 2015, 9:20 am

    Some interesting,some unusual and some totally predictable names on the list. Would be interesting to know how many of these savants have actually been to the occupied territories or Gaza and seen the limitless possibilities for cultural bridges.Bottom line though is that anyone who has signed the letter is either a moron or a hypocrite. It is blindingly obvious to anyone with basic intellectual integrity what Israel is doing and has been doing to the Palestinians for the last 50 years and will continue to do with their usual impunity unless there are wholesale across the board boycotts including very definitely a cultural boycott.. To pretend that “cultural bridges” are the way forward is a shameful and disgusting cop out. It would never have worked with the Nazis back in 1938 and it will never work out with the Israelis in 2015.

    BTW I notice the list includes Maureen Lipman who back in January threatened t to leave the UK for Israel because of the supposed ” rise in anti – semitism” in the UK ( A classic Hasbara mirage ). Not sure whether she actually went through with it but hope that she has or will. It would be a great move for her what with all those Pro-Semitic Jews only roads etc.

    • John O on October 24, 2015, 10:00 am

      She’s still here. Got into a physical fight with the owner of a nail bar a few days ago when they wouldn’t give her a refund on a manicure she wasn’t satisfied with.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 25, 2015, 3:28 pm

        I’m surprised she didn’t get an editorial in The Jonathan Freedland Guardian to complain about how the manicurist was a rabid anti-semite.

    • a blah chick on October 24, 2015, 10:08 am

      Last I heard she was still a resident of Old Blighty.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 24, 2015, 10:54 am

      Does Maureen Lipman actually do anything these days other than whine about ”anti-semitism”? She’s hardly a cultural power to be reckoned with these days, is she?

      Oh, and if she’s still contemplating emigrating to Israel, I’ll happily pay her taxi fare to the airport.

  18. Boo on October 24, 2015, 9:47 am

    So Rowling believes everything will turn out hunky-dory if we just engage both sides constructively as if they were equal?

    It might lead one to conclude she actually believes in magic.

  19. Elizabeth Block on October 24, 2015, 9:52 am

    I love the Harry Potter books, and I know what Harry would do. He would stand with the bullied against the bullies. How could Rowling have forgotten that?

  20. ASBizar on October 24, 2015, 11:47 am

    Some of them are outright pro-Israel lobby.
    Some of them like JKR are probably too naive.
    Maajid Nawaz is the most opportunist of them.

  21. just on October 24, 2015, 1:16 pm

    I’ve always credited Rowling as more than a bit of a hero for making children, teenagers, and their parents and grands fall in love with books again. I also thought that JK knew the difference between good and evil.

    Apparently, not so much.

    I read the article in The Guardian with chagrin. Another useless lot of Israel supporters.

    I take great comfort in the fact that:

    “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.”

    Rowling and the rest of the “UK artists” really ought to know by now that there is no “dialogue” possible with the clandestinely nuclear-armed and apartheid state of Israel! It is the criminal Occupier and Gaoler of millions of Palestinians~ the millions that they haven’t already murdered.

  22. just on October 24, 2015, 5:51 pm

    Maybe JK and her 150 variously pickled brethren should have a listen to Nelson Mandela. Taxi has brought this out of the 1990 archives @ her place.

    Have a listen:

    Hard to believe that it’s 25 years later… a quarter century of more torment and terror for the Palestinians.

  23. michelle on October 24, 2015, 9:09 pm

    btw the better question might be — what would Hermione Granger do?
    being as J. K. Rowling once stated that she identifies with the Hermione character the most
    to date i am a fan of the works of this author
    though as a fan i would be sad to learn that the words in the books are only words
    the best stories share the heart of the ‘teller’ with those who listen
    G-d Bless

  24. tuppington on October 25, 2015, 5:15 pm

    I know this is going to sound grating to your ears but Prof Noam Chomsky warned that this would happen, that a cultural boycott would fail because it was too broad and would not get as much support.

    • annie on October 25, 2015, 7:15 pm

      i’d see your point if it was failing. but it’s not. it’s spreading like wildfire.

  25. just on October 26, 2015, 9:51 pm

    A seriously stellar article by Omar Robert Hamilton

    (“… a filmmaker, writer and a producer of the annual Palestine Festival of Literature.”)

    “J. K. Rowling and the Prisoners of Israel

    How disappointing to see JK Rowling and Hilary Mantel signing this nefarious letter calling for the need for ‘cultural bridges’ with Israel.

    The letter, assembled by a new organisation calling itself Culture for Co-Existence, is a litany of the tired tropes and doublespeak employed by Israel and her apologists.

    It opens, point blank, saying, “We do not believe cultural boycotts are acceptable.” Within two sentences the reader finds herself in the patrician hallways of the British conservative, being simply instructed what to think, what is polite. Cultural boycotts are never acceptable? Ever?

    The lazy argumentation continues, with the limp disbelief that “the letter you published accurately represents opinion in the cultural world in the UK.” This is in reference to a letter published by Artists For Palestine UK in which 1000 UK cultural workers pledged to boycott Israel until it reverses its policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

    The letter struggles on with a series of meaningless assertions about the need to “inform and encourage dialogue” to “further peace.” When you’re dealing with the mechanized destruction of an entire people by one of the most technologically advanced and diplomatically shielded militaries in the history of mankind then talk, in 2015, of ‘cultural engagement’ is nothing more than further cover for Israel’s continuing colonization of what remains of Palestine.

    Let us consider what the last twenty years of dialogue, mutual engagement and negotiation have brought us. Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 the Israeli government has constructed 53,000 homes to house 500,000 new settler-colonists in the West Bank, has subjected Gaza to a medieval siege for over 6 years, destroyed 15,000 Palestinian homes, expelled 11,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem and divided the West Bank into 167 segregated population zones that are divided from each other by a 440km cement wall and 522 military checkpoints. It has suppressed a popular uprising and launched four major offensives that have left over 7,000 Palestinians dead.

    Israel, for all of those years (and we’re not even going back to 1948 here), has enjoyed full diplomatic and economic relations with all the world’s major players, it is at the centre of global trade in arms, hi-tech and diamonds. It competes in European sporting and musical competitions and enjoys European trade benefits. It has the US Congress in thrall to its every whim and has an army of lobbyists at work in every Western capital. Israel does not suffer from a shortage of ‘bridges.’

    Words such as ‘dialogue,’ ‘peace’ and ‘bridges’ are hallmarks of the peace industry that has built up around Palestine in these years since 1993. …

    … Considering that Ms Rowling’s trade is in language it is deeply surprising to see her name attached to such a letter. Clearly this Co-Existence Coterie, which consists of her agent and two trustees of her charity, Lumos, came into being entirely for her signature. Many of their fans hope, though, that Ms Rowling and Ms Mantel reconsider their position and remove their names from this document. It is nothing more than a plea to allow Israel to continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Economic and cultural isolation worked to end apartheid in South Africa and it can end it in Palestine too. If it is peace that people actually want, they have to recognize that it can only come with justice.”

    read the entire piece @

    • just on October 26, 2015, 10:25 pm

      Good article by Sarah Irving about The Letter:

      “… Who was behind the letter?

      What the letter doesn’t make clear, however, is that one of the driving forces behind Culture for Coexistence is Neil Blair, JK Rowling’s literary agent.

      Blair is also on the board of the UK branch of the Abraham Fund. That “coexistence” group is sponsored by Hapoalim, an Israeli bank that finances the construction of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

      On 21 October, the UK Friends of the Abraham Fund announced as its new chairperson Alex Brummer, an editor and columnist at the rightwing British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, notable for its pro-Israel editorial stance and notorious for its racist and Islamophobic stereotypes.

      Brummer is also a regular contributor to The Jewish Chronicle, a British newspaper with pronounced Zionist leanings.

      A recent statement on the Abraham Fund’s Facebook page on what it called “ongoing tensions” claims that “Arab society in Israel must unite against the attacks and stabbings of Jews and prevent the incitement which is encouraging these acts.”

      The statement makes no mention of the deadly violence perpetrated by the Israeli army and settlers against Palestinians.

      Violence is clearly, according to the Abraham Fund, something perpetrated only by Palestinians.

      One Family?

      Culture for Coexistence also lists Loraine da Costa among its committee members. Da Costa’s other board memberships include One Family, a group which called itself “the leading support organization that deals with victims of terror in Israel.”

      Patrons of the international One Family organization include notorious Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz.

      Needless to say, those supported by One Family do not include Palestinian victims of Israeli terror.

      Another of da Costa’s board memberships was, until 2014, Conservative Friends of Israel, a lobby group inside Britain’s ruling Conservative Party.

      The current chairperson of Conservative Friends of Israel, member of Parliament Eric Pickles, is also a signatory of The Guardian letter.

      In an article commenting on the letter, Da Costa is quoted as rejecting criticism of how no Palestinians had signed the letter: ”This is essentially a British initiative – we haven’t reached out to Israelis or Palestinians. If there are Palestinians who’d like to be part of our initiative, we’d love to reach out to them.”

      Her response elides the fact that plenty of the letter’s signatories have close links to Israel.


      JK Rowling, usually credited with progressive social and political views, has disappointed many of her fans by putting her name to such a dubious project as Culture for Coexistence.

      One young woman of Palestinian origin wrote movingly of how she was “heartbroken” at hearing of Rowling’s support for the Zionist apologist initiative, having grown up reading the Harry Potter books, with their message of anti-racism and the struggle for justice, as the story of her own people. …”

      From the link to the great letter from the young Palestinian lady, Mia Oudeh:

      “… . I am therefore entirely confused and heart broken at your support for this letter, because to me, as a Palestinian Potterhead, it does not quite make sense.

      The letter in question states,

      “Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace … Open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance … Cultural engagement builds bridges, nurtures freedom and positive movement for change. We wholly endorse encouraging such a powerful tool for change rather than boycotting its use.”

      I feel that this letter has not contextualised the grim reality of Israel/Palestine, and is paradoxical in its nature. In this response to your support of the letter, I will be drawing parallels between the Harry Potter world and the Palestinian world in order to demonstrate my confusion.

      Firstly, “boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory,” is a ridiculous sentence in itself. I’m not sure whether you know the history of Israel, but it did not exist before 1948. It is a settler-colonial state which operates on the apartheid of an indigenous people and has broken international law and UN resolutions every single day since its existence. [19] The practices Israel enforces in its culture and every day functioning are in themselves divisive and discriminatory. No cultural engagement between Palestinians and Israelis will ever build bridges, because rather than the “two sides are to blame” argument the letter you signed endorses, there are no two sides.

      When the death eaters take over the Ministry of Magic and begin to run the magical world, would you have placed them in an equal side to the Potter trio? I definitely would not; the death eaters ran a ministry of oppression – from the “Magic is Might” statue of the naked muggles being used to support the robed wizard, to the brutal treatment of muggle born students at Hogwarts. Additionally, the death eaters had the advantage of fighting together using the Unforgivable Curses, having an army of brutal magical creatures including giants and dementors, having magical spells to track the Potter trio’s movements and having full control of the magical world through their position of power.

      In contrast, Harry was working in isolation with the support of his two friends. His “side” were terrorised families who could not step one foot out of line in fear of being tortured and/or killed, or who were in hiding and on the run. It was a completely uneven distribution of power and most definitely not two sides. It was a case of the oppressor and the oppressed.

      Now let’s consider this in the Israel/Palestine context. How can we, as Palestinians, sit and conduct peaceful dialogue with Israelis, as equal sides, both to blame for a “conflict”, when there is also an uneven distribution of power?…

      …So many intellectual academics, scholars, musicians, artists, novelists, scientists and performers have spoken out for their support of BDS. It is the only logical way that this madness will stop. We have spoken until our tongues have dried out – dialogue is a method that has gone stale. We need action and that action is BDS until Israel recognises international law, like every country on this planet should.

      The letter you signed uses the word “coexistence” in its title – but “coexistence” will never be reached until the lives of every single person is treated with dignity and respect. Somehow, I don’t think sitting down and talking is going to teach the IDF or Israeli settlers to start respecting Palestinian life, because they are so indoctrinated into a culture of brain washed military life. For example, they have been recorded watching the bombing of Gaza as though it were a movie at the cinema.[20] Coexistence will happen once this culture is torn down, and I am so sure that if Harry could defeat Voldemort, Neville could behead Nagini, and Snape could be good, that Palestine will be free and we will all live as one people on this Earth.

      I hope that this letter is shared as widely as possible so that you may see it, and that I can hear your reply.”

  26. John O on October 27, 2015, 4:27 am

    Replies in today’s Guardian to the JK Rowling letter:

    The first letter is in the print edition, plus a link to the others on the paper’s website.

  27. just on October 27, 2015, 6:38 am

    “UK academics boycott universities in Israel to fight for Palestinians’ rights

    British and Israeli governments condemn pledge by 343 professors and lecturers who criticise what they call ‘Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land’

    More than 300 academics from dozens of British universities have pledged to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest at what they call intolerable human rights violations against the Palestinian people.

    The declaration, by 343 professors and lecturers, is printed in a full-page advertisement carried in Tuesday’s Guardian, with the title: “A commitment by UK scholars to the rights of Palestinians.”

    The pledge says the signatories, from a variety of universities in England and Wales, will not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions, act as referees for them, or take part in events organised or funded by them. They will, however, still work with individual Israeli academics, it adds.

    The advert says the signatories are “deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.

    In a statement on behalf of the organisers of the boycott, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, of the London School of Economics, said Israel’s universities were “at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people”.

    He said: “These signatures were all collected despite the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel. Now that the invitation to join the commitment is in the public domain, we anticipate many more to join us.”

    The initiative brought immediate criticism from the British and Israeli governments. The British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, said he was “deeply committed” to promoting academic and scientific ties. He added: “As David Cameron has said, the UK government will never allow those who want to boycott Israel to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger.”

    The Israeli embassy in London published a scathing response to the ad, saying: “Boycott movements only aim to sow hatred and alienation between the sides, rather than promoting coexistence.

    “The only path to advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians passes through the negotiation room. Israel has called time and again for the renewal of talks immediately, without any preconditions. Those who call for a boycott against Israel during a month which saw 45 stabbing attacks – in which more than 100 Israelis were wounded, and 10 were murdered – blatantly ignore the lives of Israelis, and the conditions necessary for peace.”…”

  28. just on October 27, 2015, 7:16 am

    Quite a few good letters about The Letter published in The Guardian.

    “Cultural bridges with Israel have failed”

  29. Ossinev on October 27, 2015, 7:38 am

    @just – Methinks they protest too much.

    “As David Cameron has said, the UK government will never allow those who want to boycott Israel to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger.”

    So then Mr “Friend of Israel” Cameron you are going to prevent us UK citizens from shutting down this “vibrant exchange and partnership” with Israel. And how exactly old Etonian bean are you going to do that ? If we citizens of the UK want to boycott this monstrosity and suffocate this “vibrant exchange and partnership ” we will simply do it – same as we did for Apartheid South Africa .

    I know that you and your pro – Zionist arslikhan ilk have really enjoyed the past 60 years worth of this ” vibrant exchange and partnership” with a country which has been in open and flagrant breach of international law during all of those those 60 years and which sticks two fingers up to all and sundry including the UK when it is criticised for this. However the party is over.


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