The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign has just issued this press release, the content of which reflects the tireless efforts of my comrade Raymond Deane.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign's 'Irish Artists' Pledge to Boycott Israel', described by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) as 'a ground-breaking initiative', has just notched up its 500th signatory. This is a significant milestone for such a small country, and includes creative and performing artists residing all over the island of Ireland.
The Pledge was publicly launched in August 2010, when it had 140 signatories. It 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 500 signatories range from some of Ireland's most internationally known figures to artists starting out on their careers, who know that they risk defamation and ostracism by Israel's advocates, particularly in the USA . They include novelists, poets, painters, sculptors, film-makers, dancers, composers, performing musicians and others, including many members of Ireland’s state-sponsored academy of artists Aosdána.
This was the first national cultural boycott against Israel, and was followed shortly by a similar initiatives in Switzerland and South Africa. It is hoped that other countries will follow the same template in the near future.
Raymond Deane, cultural liaison officer of the IPSC, said: 'Sadly, this pledge remains as necessary as when it was launched four years ago. Israel’s latest murderous assault on Gaza, that has killed over 2,100 people, mostly non-combatants, proves that it is not interested in peace. Western governments’ failure to sanction Israel proves that they are not interested in justice, so it remains incumbent upon civil society to take action. This pledge allows people from the artistic community to take a stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Indeed almost half of the signatories have added their names since Israel launched "Operation Protective Edge", thus proving that the Irish government's appeasement of Israel is deeply at odds with all levels of Irish public opinion'.
Mr Deane also pointed out that 'these artists are aware of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s 2005 statement that "we see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and… do not differentiate between propaganda and culture". By signing this pledge, artists are refusing to allow their art to be exploited by an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights. They look forward to the day when normal cultural relations can be established with an Israel that fully complies with such laws and principles'.
Mr Deane 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'.