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Sunday, 15 November 2015

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

Even the young Harry might have worked this one out
One of the most interesting things about the letter calling for cultural co-existence with Israeli Apartheid is how few cultural figures were represented on the list of signatories.  Apart from JK Rowling, there was the washed out feminist, Fay Weldon, the star of BT’s adverts, Maureen Lipman and a couple of other has beens.
 What it lacked in cultural input  it more than made up for in members of the Conservative Friends of Israel who signed the letter.  People not normally known for their tolerance or belief in dialogue were enthusiastic to put their signature at the bottom of a hypocritical call for dialogue with a racist regime that has refused to accept one single Syrian refugee, because they are non-Jewish. 
A good example of the depths of Israeli and Zionist racism was provided by a story in last week’s Jewish Chronicle Revealed: How the last Jews of Aleppo escaped.   
Israeli artists protesting at the lack of dialogue in Israel - as their funds are cut for not supporting the settlements and Likud's far-right agenda
An American/Israeli philanthropist, Moti Kahana, arranged the escape of the last Jewish family, the Halabis, in Aleppo from under the noses of Isis, who were closing in and would have slaughtered them.  They were taken on a circuitous and risky journey to Turkey.  The Jewish Agency then arranged for the family to be accepted in Israel under the Law of Return.
Eric Pickles - Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel - his only dialogue is with an oversized luncheon
The only problem was that one of the daughters of the 88 year old mother, Gilda, had converted to Islam and married an Arab, Khalib.  They had 3 children.  Because she had converted she was no longer Jewish and could not enter Israel.  Having no funds she was forced to go back into Syria and risk her life and that of her husband and children again.  Israel would not accept her because she was not Jewish even though Isis would have killed her because, in their eyes, she was Jewish.  That in a nutshell sums  up the racism of the Israeli state.  Being Jewish is a racial category, defined as it was in Germany according to religious criteria. 
Even Dumbledore would fine it difficult to get out of this one
Eric Pickles, who is not famous for his cultural sensitivities or input, demonstrated his belief in dialogue by exerting pressure, as a member of the Cabinet  by successfully putting pressure on Southampton University to cancel a conference last year on international law.  Pickles is someone whose commitment to fighting anti-Semitism was demonstrated by his overt support for the anti-Semitic Polish MEP Michal Kaminski.  Kaminski opposeda national Polish apology for the burning alive of up to 900 Jews in 1941 in the village of Jedwabne. 
The fascist Polish politician Michal Kaminski who Pickles defended
Pickles is also someone who, like Fay Weldon, is known as an Islamaphobe.  He was the moving spirit behind the judicial coup d’etat in Tower Hamlets earlier this year when the democratically elected Mayor Lofthur Rahman was ousted by the High Court.
Eric Pickles - the bigot at the heart of JK Rowling's Boycott Letter
One wonders whether Ms Rowling is enjoying the company of the supporters of an Apartheid Israel (& Maureen Lipman for example defends any and every action of Israel including their treatment of Palestinian children) whilst claiming that she opposes the actions of the Israeli state in the Occupied Territories?

Tony Greenstein

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


Annie Robbins on October 23, 2015

JK Rowling
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.
Eric Pickles - landed Rowling in a right pickle!
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)

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, Tariq 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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