May 01, 2008

‘Citing personal reasons’

Is this going to be the new halfway-house response by artists to the growing cultural boycott on Israel? Recently, the IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign) has been in contact with Bono asking him not to accept an invitation from Shimon Peres, known and loved as ‘the father of Israel’s atom bomb’. The invite was to go over to Jerusalem next month as part of the 60 years celebrations of successful ethnic cleansing.

Finally – by sheer coincidence it was a day before our Deir Yassin demonstration - the bould Bono, or rather his agent, contacted our chairperson to tell her that Bono isn’t, after all, going to Israel. But there was nothing political about it, we were told. The decision was simply ‘for personal reasons’.

And now I see it’s happening again. There’s a big campaign by AIC (nice to see Israeli organisations getting involved in this) and PACBI to ask writers not to go to the Jerusalem Writer’s festival in mid-May. We in the IPSC have done our bit, sending an open letter to Irish writer, Niall Williams, not to go.

One of the writers has actually pulled out – Russell Banks. On Tuesday a forceful letter was sent to him from BRICUP, and on Wednesday he announced he wasn’t actually going – you’ve guessed it – ‘for personal reasons’.

So maybe we have a new catchphrase as the cultural boycott starts to bite, but artists are still a bit abashed about it? I suppose it’ll do – for now the real question is whether Nadine Gordimer rediscovers her personal reasonable conscience?


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