2015-10-28 / Editorial

J.K. Rowling, other UK artists to be applauded for BDS opposition

Where diplomacy fails - and politics only widen the gaps among divided nations - it is the realm of artists to bridge cultural chasms and show divided people the humanity in others.

That’s why we applaud author J.K. Rowling and 150 other British nationals involved in the cultural arts world who have publically declared their opposition to the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory, and will not further peace,” the group Culture for Coexistence recently declared in a letter published in The Guardian. “Open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance, and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.”

Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, is clearly the most famous signatory. Others include author Dame Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall) and English historian Simon Schama.

The letter was a direct response to 700 other UK artists who, in February, announced in The Guardian their adherence to an “Artist’s Pledge for Palestine” to boycott Israel.

Culture for Coexistence takes exactly the opposite approach.

“We will be seeking to inform and encourage dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians in the wider cultural and creative community,” it states. “While we may not all share the same views on the policies of the Israeli government, we all share a desire for peaceful coexistence.”

Culture for Coexistence gets it right. However people lean on the politics, a cultural boycott can only exacerbate the already yawning chasm between Israelis and Palestinians. In these troubling times, we absolutely need artists and visionaries to imagine peace and lead the way. .

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