The ‘Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel’ reaches landmark 600 signatures
As calls grow for Ireland to boycott the 2019 Eurovision due to be held in Israel, the “Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel” has just passed the 600 signatory mark. Current signatories include Stephen Rea, Sinéad Cusack, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Damien Dempsey, Neilí Conroy, Conor Kostick, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Barry Murphy, Sharon Shannon, Robert Ballagh, Mary Black, Kíla, Mike Murphy and Frances Black.
See the full list and sign up yourself at https://www.ipsc.ie/pledge
The Pledge – which commits signatories to refrain from performing in the apartheid state of Israel – was launched by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in 2010. Modelled on the successful cultural boycott of Apartheid South Africa, it has been called “a ground-breaking initiative” by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee in Palestine, the leadership of the global BDS movement for Palestinian freedom. The Pledge reads as follows:
“In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for a cultural boycott of Israel, 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.”
The 601 signatories range from some of Ireland’s most internationally known figures to artists starting out on their careers. They include actors, writers, poets, painters, sculptors, film-makers, dancers, architects, composers, designers, musicians and others, including many members of Ireland’s state-sponsored academy of artists Aosdána.
This was the first nationally organised cultural boycott of Israel, and was followed by similar successful initiatives in Switzerland, South Africa, Britain and elsewhere.
Fatin Al Tamimi, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “Speaking as a Palestinian and as an Irish citizen, the fact that hundreds of artists in Ireland have stood up and said they refuse to help Apartheid Israel culturally whitewash its international image gives me great hope, and makes me incredibly proud of my adoptive homeland.
Ms Tamimi continued: “Sadly, however, this pledge remains as necessary as when it was launched eight years ago. Israel’s racist ‘nation-state’ law and its ongoing murderous assaults on the unarmed protest movement in Gaza, where over 140 people have been killed and many thousands wounded by live fire, have both gone unpunished, just like every other attack on the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, Western governments’ continued failure to sanction Israel means it remains necessary for civil society to take action for justice for Palestine. This pledge allows people from the artistic community to take a stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. I thank each one of the signatories, and I ask every other Irish artist to sign up to boycott Israel until we Palestinians enjoy our freedom, justice and equality.”
IPSC Cultural Liaison Zoe Lawlor pointed out that “Since 2006 the Israeli government has been engaged in an aggressive public relations campaign known as ‘Brand Israel’ which, in the words of a former head of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, promotes ‘culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank’ and ‘does not differentiate between propaganda and culture’. The purpose of this propaganda campaign is to promote an image of Israel as a cultured, liberal democracy, an image completely at odds with its violent and racist reality.”
Ms. Lawlor continued: “Israel is very excited about the opportunity to host the Eurovision song contest next year for this very reason – but it is also worried about boycotts of the competition, and we reiterate our call to RTE and to Irish artists, to refuse to play any part in the ‘artwashing’ of Apartheid next year. We hope anyone thinking about entering will pay attention to their peers who have signed this pledge, and stand on the right side of history.”
Ms Lawlor concluded by calling on more Irish artists to sign the pledge, saying “if you are an Irish artist or an artist based in Ireland and would like to add your signature, please see www.ipsc.ie/pledge”.