January 27, 2011

More on McEwan and the Jerusalem Prize

My friend Roland Rance had a good letter in The Guardian the other day:
Sarah Ludford (Letters, 24 January) is living in a fantasy world if she believes "having Ian McEwan in town talking to a bunch of intellectuals … may cause [the Israeli] government some discomfort".
The huge majority of Israeli intellectuals, who accept the occupation and its consequences, will not wish to discuss McEwan's critical views with him. Nor will the small minority who take a consistent stand against oppression, and support the cultural boycott of Israel.
That leaves McEwan's moral equivalents, the equivocating fence-sitters. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday they will criticise the occupation, while on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they will justify Israel's wars. But on Sunday they may find time to commiserate with McEwan on the harsh plight of liberal intellectuals.
Roland Rance
Most letters I have seen tend to criticise what appears to be a self-serving decision to collect a Jerusalem Prize. Here's another from some Israelis who support BDS:
As Israeli citizens who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions call on Israel, we believe that if Ian McEwan accepts the Jerusalem prize next month in Jerusalem (Letters, 26 January), it will make him a collaborator with Israel's worst human rights offenders and its "business as usual" policy. The Jerusalem prize is awarded by the Israeli establishment, which is keen on branding Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, as beacons of enlightenment and democracy. In reality, Ian McEwan will be playing into the hands of and shaking hands with cynical politicians who are trying to whitewash their systematic human rights violations. Specifically, he will be legitimising the actions of Jerusalem's racist mayor, Nir Barkat, who pursues and defends the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, in order for them to be occupied by Jewish settlers. If McEwan "opposes illegal Israeli settlements", how can he accept the accolades of the people who are responsible for that abomination?

Mr McEwan's hiding behind the acceptance of the prize by others is an example of an unprincipled approach. Furthermore, his attempt to imply that the boycott movement is against cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians is refuted by our joint political activities. As responsible Israeli citizens, we are working together with Palestinians to achieve justice for Palestinians, and a future for all of us. We urge Ian McEwan to take a stand for human rights and justice and turn down the prize.
Ronnie Barkan, Ofra Ben-Artzi, Joesph Dana, Professor Rachel Giora, Neta Golan, Iris Hefets, Shir Hever, Eytan Lerner, Dr Anat Matar, Rela Mazali, Ofer Neiman, Jonathan Stanczak
Jerusalem, Israel
As it happens it turns out that Ian McEwan has form when it comes to supporting islamophobes.


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