- Published on Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:26
Outside of Palestine there is increasing support for the cultural boycott of Israel and BDS movement due to Israel's continuing mistreatment of Palestinians. But this increased support is being accompanied by increased debate about the merits of the cultural boycott.
Irish folk band, Dervish, last month became one of the latest acts to pull out of an Israeli tour. They were due to perform three concerts in Israel next month in collaboration with Israeli musician Avshalom Farjun, who they described as a man who 'has worked to bridge divides between people through music for much of his life'.
Nevertheless Dervish decided to cancel the concerts after the overwhelming amount of negative comments on the band's Facebook page. In a statement posted on their Facebook page, the band said they were 'unaware' of the cultural boycott in place.
Although there is no official UN sanctioned boycott of Israel, an increasing number of international institutions and influential performers have backed the BDS movement. This has led to big name artists such as Elvis Costello, The Pixies, The Klaxons and the Gorillaz Sound System cancelling performances in Israel.
In Ireland, over 200 artists have signed a pledge – organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign – to boycott Israel. After the Dervish concert withdrawal, the Israeli embassy in Dublin has labelled those calling for a boycott as 'Israeli self-haters and anti-Semites'. Dervish's boycott did not cause many headlines in Israel compared to other withdrawals from big international acts.
Since beginning in 2005 the BDS campaign has caused considerable irritation to the Israeli government, but it has not been universally supported. Authors Ian McEwan and Tracy Chevalier have favoured engagement to boycotts, but both have tried to highlight Palestinian issues when appearing in Israel.
Whether or not the BDS movement will prove ultimately effective, the Israeli government has sought to stamp it out by introducing legislation that allows for civil suits against individuals and organisations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of Israel, Israeli institutions and Israeli settlements. However, the law has not seemed to slow down the momentum of the BDS movement and has been criticised by international bodies such as the EU.