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Irish artists join Israel boycott


London : Over 150 Irish artists have pledged not to perform or exhibit in Israel, or to accept any funding from institutions linked to the Israeli government.

The pledge drawn up by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) was signed by creative and performing artists: novelists, playwrights, poets, actors, composers, singers, dancers, painters, sculptors and filmmakers at a meeting in Dublin on Thursday.

The list ranged from those starting out on their careers to such household names as Christy Moore, Damien Dempsey, Donal Lunny, Robert Ballagh, John Arden, Seamus Deane, Bob Quinn, and Sinéad Cusack, according to details obtained by IRNA.

“We pledge not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights,” they said.

IPSC Cultural Boycott Officer, Raymond Deane, who is a classical composer himself, said the pledge was “a ground-breaking initiative” in protest at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people.

“These artists are aware of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement in 2005 that “We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture,” Deane said.

“These artists refuse to allow their art to be exploited by an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights,” he said.

Deane also recalled former South African president Nelson Mandela’s dictum that “boycott is not a principle, it is a tactic depending upon circumstances.”

“Five years ago, when 170 Palestinian civil society organisations called a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, they provided a central plank for worldwide activism on behalf of their cause,” he said about the growing success of the campaign.

“Culture cannot stand aloof from such activism. Whether or not art is ‘above politics’, its presentation and representation in the real world can all too easily be hijacked by oppressive states,” Deane told the meeting

“With this pledge, Irish artists have an opportunity to distance themselves from such exploitation, and to take a non-violent stand on behalf of the oppressed Palestinian people,” he said.

Singer and songwriter Damien Dempsey hoped the boycott would encourage young people in Israel who disagreed with the government to “speak out”.

He said that the military were running the show in Israel and that they needed the world to stand up against them.

When asked about the boycott’s chances for success, Eoin Dillon, a performer with Irish and world music band Kila, said: “It worked in South Africa.”