Aug 17, 2010

Open Letter to John Lydon from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Dear John,

Although you were born in Ireland, you may not be aware that on 12th August the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) launched its "boycott pledge" campaign, whereby over 140 (now over 160 and counting) Irish artists undertook "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."

Proportionally, the largest number of these artists are musicians: musicians of all kinds ranging from classical composers to sean nós dancers to death metallers to - yes - punk rockers, but all described without discrimination as musicians. I'm proud to be one myself.Some of these artists are starting out on their careers, and may be taking a risk in signing such a pledge: the reach of the Zionist lobby in the USA is long, and who doesn't want to be big in the States? Others are already household names, and can and do whistle at the risk.

Few of these artists waste time proclaiming their rebelliousness or their anarchism: they are natural-born rebels with historical awareness and a social conscience, and are prepared to put their reputations on the line to demonstrate it.

In calling for a boycott, they are contradicting the policy of the Irish government and of the European Union which is "not to support boycotts or sanctions of Israel at this time". Instead, these governments ignore Israel's crimes, offer it substantial trading privileges, and treat it like a European country and a model democracy - thus in reality demonstrating their complicity with an Apartheid state engaged in a pitiless process of colonial expansion and dispossession and slow genocide of the indigenous Palestinian people.

You, on the other hand, who explicitly claim to be "anti-government", apparently agree with the EU governments on this, because you plan to break the cultural boycott of Israel by performing in Tel Aviv on 31st August. You are also willing to play by the rules of the criminal Israeli government which, through its spokesman Nissim Ben-Sheetrit in 2005, stated that "We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, not differentiate between propaganda and culture."

John, do you really wish to be "a propaganda tool" for such a foul regime? Because, believe me, the Israeli state doesn't need to hi-jack your music or your words (just in case you do "protest" while you're there, as you've promised) - the very fact of your presence will be hi-jacked to prove how "normal" that abnormal state is.

But it's not too late: you can still cancel your trip to Israel, and join the ranks of those honourable artists who refuse to play along with Apartheid. The IPSC Cultural Boycott Pledge ( is still open and you would be most welcome to sign it: we'll be waiting for you with open arms!

Sincerely -

Raymond Deane

(Composer, IPSC Cultural Boycott Officer)

Christians, Jews meet over boycott

JEWISH and Christian leaders have met in Sydney to heal the wounds caused by a call last month for Australians to boycott Israeli goods made in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The National Council of Churches in Australia called for Australians to consider the boycott at the request of Middle Eastern churches, but the Jewish community was outraged.

The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, wrote to the council saying the resolution was a ''most unpleasant surprise … we feel that we have been badly let down by people we have long thought of as our friends''.

Last week members of both councils, including heads of the Catholic and Anglican churches, archbishops Philip Wilson of Adelaide and Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, met to restore relations.

Yesterday the councils, the leading organisations for the respective faiths, said in a joint statement that a ''serious exchange of views'' had helped Christian leaders better understand Jewish concerns and Jewish leaders better understand why the resolution was adopted.

Mr Goot would not comment further and the general secretary of the churches council, Tara Curlewis, said only that the statement showed the depth of the relationship between the groups. But the boycott resolution remained in place. They will meet again to work on a ''more comprehensive'' statement.

Public Image Ltd. To Play In Israel Despite Boycott

Israel has been boycotted by a broad range of artist in recent times, including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and the Pixies. While most musicians are pulling out of shows due to concerns over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestine, John Lydon has no such worries about bringing his recently revived Public Image Ltd. to the country.

“Of course, there are all sorts of terrible politics going on down there but there is just about all over the world,” Lydon said, in an interview with 6 Music. “You cannot separate yourself from your audience because of the political powers-that-be. I mean, I'm anti-government—I have been all my life no matter where I go—and I shall be making that loud and clearly proud once I'm in Israel."

How effective Lydon’s protest will be once he arrives in Israel remains to be seen, although he is likely to be unconcerned about raising the ire of people angered by him traveling there. "We've received a lot of hate mail, as it happens,” he claims. “[That] going to Israel is some kind of political faux pas. I say, 'Don't be so ignorant -- it's John speaking here and I'm going there to cause trouble and I will do it musically.'"

Iranian taekwondo fighter boycotts final, Israeli wins gold by default

Israeli taekwondo fighter Gili Haimovich, 17, wins gold medal at Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore when Iranian opponent refuses to compete against him in final.

Israeli taekwondo fighter Gili Haimovich, 17, won a gold medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore on Sunday on a technical victory after an Iranian fighter Mohammed Soleimani refused to compete against him in the championship match.

Haimovich waited several minutes until it was clear Soleimani would not appear before beginning his victory celebration.

Harvard not divesting from Israel

Harvard University sold off some of its investments in Israel but is not divesting itself from the Jewish state and the portfolio changes were not politically motivated, according to the university's spokesman.

Reports that Harvard sold off all of its holdings in Israel sparked immediate outrage across the Internet Monday morning, based on the news that the Harvard Management Company's most recent SEC filing revealed that it had sold stocks amounting to $39 million in Israeli companies such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., NICE Systems Ltd., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Cellcom Israel Ltd., and Partner Communications Ltd.

But Harvard spokesman John Longbrake tells The Cable that the filing shows only a change in holdings, not a change in policy.

"The University has not divested from Israel. Israel was moved from the MSCI, our benchmark in emerging markets, to the EAFE index in May due to its successful growth. Our emerging markets holdings were rebalanced accordingly," he said.

Harvard still is invested in Israel, Longbrake said, but he declined to go into specifics. He said the filing in question only represents a small portion of Harvard's overall portfolio, which is about $26 billion.

In other words, Israel's growth and development resulted in a status change whereby the stocks could no longer be considered "emerging market" holdings, requiring Harvard to rebalance its emerging market portfolio.

Israel boycott not self-serving

K Nolan refers to the proposed boycott of Israel by 150 (now over 160) Irish artists as "sanctimonious and self-serving to say the least!" (Letters, August 16).

This puzzles me. Is K Nolan not being "sanctimonious" when he refers to "the sectarian and apartheid state of Israel"? The artists share this view of that state, but are prepared to go beyond invective and take action in the most effective way that is open to them.

In the process, they are potentially depriving themselves of income (Israel pays well for those who are prepared to act as its propaganda tools) while simultaneously risking their careers in the USA, where the vindictiveness of the Zionist lobby leads to discrimination against Israel's critics.

Surely this is the very opposite of "self-serving"?

Raymond Deane
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dublin 2

Irish Independent