January 25, 2011

Nothing to Bragg about?

Wowee!  Melvyn Bragg has a letter in today's Guardian opposing a boycott of the State of Israel.  See this:
Despite my admiration for John Berger, I think that he and his friends are wrong to take Ian McEwan to task for accepting the Jerusalem prize (Letters, 24 January). I can see no value in such boycotts. Academic and intellectual freedom is surely too important to be checked by politics.

Melvyn Bragg
London
Now see this excerpt from the letter he is criticising:
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. The Arab residents of what ought to be the capital of a Palestinian state are instead subjected to house demolition, routine humiliation at checkpoints, and arrest and/or expulsion for peacefully demonstrating against these injustices. Considering also the continuing illegal settlements in the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, the detention of Palestinian children, and the murder of nine aid workers on the Mavi Marmara, and the Jerusalem prize – awarded to writers whose work explores the theme of "individual freedom in society" – is a cruel joke and a propaganda tool for the Israeli state.
From Melvyn Bragg's letter you might think that, whilst he is opposed to Israel because of "continuing illegal settlements in the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, the detention of Palestinian children, and the murder of nine aid workers on the Mavi Marmara", he is against boycotts in principle. But from an earlier letter of Bragg's to the Guardian back in 2005 we can see that Lord Bragg doesn't actually do principle:
I write to express dismay and opposition to the decision taken by the AUT to sever links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.

This boycott fails to recognise the continuous democratic processes and discussions within Israel, where brave voices are constantly raised against the actions in Palestine; it glides over the effects of the barbaric suicide attacks on the streets of Israel and the unremitting threats from Arab states that they will destroy Israel
So he doesn't want a boycott of Israel because he likes Israel. What is interesting is that now he can't bring himself to list those things he likes about Israel any more. Either that or the Guardian's letters editor decided that any Israel apologetics would spoil the message.

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