Fair Play Campaign Group » culture http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk Bringing together those committed to opposing anti-Zionist activity and boycotts that target the people and supporters of Israel Wed, 23 Dec 2015 16:31:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Michael Gove calls the boycott of Israeli goods a sign of ‘resurgent antisemitism’ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2014/09/michael-gove-calls-the-boycott-of-israeli-goods-a-sign-of-resurgent-antisemitism/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2014/09/michael-gove-calls-the-boycott-of-israeli-goods-a-sign-of-resurgent-antisemitism/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:54:42 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=1111 From the Guardian

Protesters who are boycotting Israeli goods over Gaza need to be reminded that the Nazi campaign against Jewish goods ended with a campaign against Jewish lives, senior Tory Michael Gove has said….

The Tricycle theatre attempts to turn away donations which support the Jewish Film Festival because the money is Israeli and therefore tainted. In our supermarkets our citizens mount boycotts of Israeli produce, some going so far as to ransack the shelves, scatter goods and render them unsaleable. In some supermarkets the conflation of anti-Israeli agitation and straightforward antisemitism has resulted in kosher goods being withdrawn.

“We need to speak out against this prejudice. We need to remind people that what began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives. We need to spell out that this sort of prejudice starts with the Jews but never ends with the Jews. We need to stand united against hate. Now more than ever.


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Why it is hypocritical to boycott Israel http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2014/05/why-it-is-hypocritical-to-boycott-israel/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2014/05/why-it-is-hypocritical-to-boycott-israel/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 14:21:20 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=1100

This is a cross post from The Telegraph by Jake Wallis 

May 5th, 2014

Boycotting Israel: can it ever be justified?

We’re not normally called upon to justify a decision to travel abroad. Few people would challenge me if I were visiting China, despite that country’s appalling human rights record, repression of free speech, and colonisation of Tibet. If I was travelling to America, even though Predator drones kill thousands of innocent people each year, and even though Guantanamo Bay still holds 154 detainees, nobody would complain.

I would not be criticised for travelling to Egypt, which has become a police state that imprisons journalists, attacks protesters, and sentences political opponents to death. Nobody would suggest that I boycott India; or Pakistan; or Venezuela; or Saudi Arabia; or indeed Britain, which – I seem to recall – ignored the United Nations and attacked Iraq.

I could go on. But later this month, I am planning to travel to Israel to appear in the Jerusalem literary festival. As surely as night follows day, I have received an “open letter” from a group of 71 activists calling themselves the British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWIP), led by a poet and “professional Tarot card reader”. They were, I was informed, “extremely disappointed” by my decision, and “respectfully encouraged” me to boycott the event. But I am honoured to have been invited to Israel, and will be proud to attend. Here’s why.

It is my strong belief that Israel is, relatively speaking, a force for good in the world. I’m not saying that it is free from controversy, and I’m not saying that I have no sympathy with Palestinians. But every country that abides by the democratic process, enshrines in law the rights of women and minorities, and conducts itself with compassion both in war and in peace – or at least aspires to do so – deserves our support and respect.

But what about Israel’s flouting of international law, I hear you ask? Very well: but has Britain always been squeaky clean? I have already mentioned the example of Iraq. Britain intentionally bombed civilian targets during the Second World War, which was the last time we were under existential threat (the Area Bombing Directive ordered the RAF to attack the German workforce and destroy morale). Moreover, the Army’s Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, based in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, between 1940 and 1948, carried out systematic torture on enemy prisoners. If we were at war again, against an enemy that was able to strike at the heart of our civilian population centres, how would we behave?

Would we, perhaps, be tempted to react as we did when the IRA were terrorising the streets of London? Would we reprise the British Army’s Operation Demetrius of 1971, which allegedly included detention without trial, beating, starving, hooding for long periods, harassment with dogs, placing nooses around prisoners’ necks, forcible head shaving, denying prisoners clothes, forcing them to run barefoot behind Army vehicles, burning them with cigarettes, dragging them by the hair and pressing guns to their heads? Would Bloody Sunday, in which 26 protesters and bystanders were shot by British paratroopers, happen again?

These examples are particularly relevant when you consider the geographical, topographical and historical context in which Israel exists. The Jewish state is roughly the size of Wales, with a ridge of high ground running along the middle of the West Bank. If Britain were surrounded by hostile neighbours at such close proximity, some of which contained terror groups bent on the destruction of the country, would we be doing any better? And would a fearful British public be outraged at the Army’s brutality? Or relieved that it was keeping us safe?

It is significant that a man who knows war, Colonel Richard Kemp – the former commander of Britain’s armed forces in Afghanistan – testified to the UN Human Rights Council that the Israeli military does “more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”. It is right that every instance of military abuse should be treated gravely. But this does not justify a boycott.

From a historical point of view, Israel has been attacked repeatedly by an enemy bent on its destruction (when the Arab world attempted to liquidate the Jewish State in 1967, the settlements had not yet been built). The country has suffered terror attack after terror attack, tragedy after tragedy. Clearly, whatever the boycott activists may say, to draw a parallel with pre-1994 South Africa is ludicrous.

Of course, Israel presents many areas of concern. In particular, the situation on the West Bank is disturbing, as are the societal disadvantages that confront minorities in Israel, particularly Israeli Arabs. The army has been guilty of heavy-handedness many times. And it is sad to witness the tit-for-tat violence the plagues the region, not to mention the heavy civilian losses that are sustained by Palestinians in warfare.

Again, I could go on. But to boycott Israel alone reveals a deeply partisan approach to the conflict, and a ridiculously naïve and even hypocritical one.

By the standards of the pro-boycott activists, should the Palestinians not also be boycotted? Their society is severely intolerant of homosexuals; many go to live in Israel rather than face oppression at home. The Palestinian government has signed a reconciliation deal with a terror organisation, and within weeks they may form a unity government. As Ireported in the Telegraph last week, the Palestinian leadership pays huge financial rewards to those convicted of terror offences, and cold-blooded child killers are celebrated as heroes when they are released.

While we’re on the subject, shouldn’t the BWIP have called their group “British Writers In Support of Palestine and Israel”? And if not, why not?

For these reasons I am proud to be travelling to Israel later this month. As a journalist I value objectivity above all, and am not interested in closing my ears to one side of any story, particularly a story as complex as this. And as a novelist, my concern is with the human condition; attending a festival with fellow writers and artists who are not afraid of challenging ideas can only be a good thing.

And given that according to a YouGov poll, three-quarters of Britons “see no reason why British performers should not travel to Israel” – and fewer than one in five Britons believe that Israeli artists should be barred from the UK – I travel in the knowledge that I have public opinion on my side.

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BDS continues to fail; Eric Burdon arrives in Israel http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2013/08/bds-continues-to-fail-eric-burdon-arrives-in-israel/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2013/08/bds-continues-to-fail-eric-burdon-arrives-in-israel/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 09:17:00 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=1082 The Boycott movement’s threats that made musician Eric Burdon fear for his life is indicative of their failure to convince people to boycott Israel through academic rigor or reasoned debate. This failure has prompted shameful tactics; it is a testament to Eric Burdon’s strength of character that he is not giving in, and plans to hold his concert in Israel.

It is common for artists performing in Israel to endure threatening behaviour and heavy lobbying from the pro-boycott movement.

It is however, reassuring to see many artists ignoring this campaign and continuing to perform in Israel. This summer alone Israel has welcomed Cliff Richard, the Pet Shop Boys, and Eric Burdon, with Tom Jones due to perform in Tel Aviv at the end of October. Bullying artists into avoiding Israel and attempting to culturally isolate the Israeli population only breeds mistrust and causes further divisions. It is our hope that those who are concerned for the future of Israelis and Palestinians focus their efforts on productive campaigns and ignore the venom that emanates from the boycotters. Peace is best served by concentrating on projects that strive to improve the general atmosphere, making it more conducive to dialogue and reconciliation.

The goals of reconciliation and dialogue lie in stark contrast to the aims and objectives of boycotting Israel. The boycott movement’s activities do not stem from concern for the Palestinian people, but rather from hatred of the Israeli people. This is demonstrated by the movement’s decision to purposefully ignore the reality that both sides hold powerful arguments – both are aggrieved and both have suffered.
Moreover, the singling out of Israel proves an obstacle to one of the most basic imperatives for achieving a lasting peace: The need for each side to overcome its respective narrative in order to work towards a better future.

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Professor Stephen Hawking and the Israeli Presidential Conference http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2013/05/professor-stephen-and-the-israeli-presidential-conference/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2013/05/professor-stephen-and-the-israeli-presidential-conference/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 10:54:13 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=1039 Following pressure from anti-Israel boycott campaigners, Professor Stephen Hawking has decided to withdraw his attendance from the Israeli Presidential Conference: ‘Facing Tomorrow 2013′.  The conference looks at tomorrow and engages the central issues that will influence the future, such as geopolitics, economics, society, environment, culture and identity.



A Fair Play spokesman said:

“Steven Hawking’s misguided withdrawal from the Israeli Presidential Conference is both bizarre and unfortunate. President Shimon Peres is one of Israel’s strongest and most consistent advocates for peace through negotiation and compromise with the Palestinians, and the Israeli Presidential Conference is a venue for promoting his approach. Prof Hawking could have joined the Conference and explained his views on the conflict in the region, just as many other participants have done. By boycotting the conference, he has thrown away this opportunity and will help nobody.”


There are now reports that Professor Hawking cancelled his attendance due to health reasons. If so, then his position has grossly misrepresented by the boycotters. We will be following this closely until we have confirmation.

Also see this from the Washing Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/physicist-stephen-hawking-wont-attend-israeli-conference-cites-personal-reasons/2013/05/08/98521b3c-b7c2-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html

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How boycotts became an own goal http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2012/11/how-boycotts-became-an-own-goal/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2012/11/how-boycotts-became-an-own-goal/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 18:19:53 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=983 This is a cross post from The Jewish Chronicle by Luke Akehurst

The eight city tour by the Batsheva Ensemble is a a major target for the PSC and other BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigners.

The Batsheva tour plays to some of the PSC’s strengths. They have a national network of semi-autonomous groups, and this gives them the chance to vent their spleen against Israel in their own regions.

Some of the venues are in hotspots of BDS activity, notably Edinburgh, Brighton and Bradford. Where the PSC itself is weak it is able to plug into far left groups to provide “rent-a-Trot” demonstrators.

These groups’ habit of infiltrating multiple organisations means that credibility can be given to demnstrations by bringing along local trade union branch banners etc.

Venues, police, performers and pro-Israel campaigners have learned how to react flexibly to unpredictable protests through bitter experience. Hence in the initial Batsheva tour dates last week audiences clapped and cheered for the performers, drowning out the protesters.

Gary Sakol of the Zionist Federation deserves huge thanks for co-ordinating leafleting outside venues.

The cultural boycott is a flawed weapon for the PSC to use. It is a rip-off of the anti-apartheid protests against South African sports teams. Those teams were all-white when South Africa was majority black.

In contrast, performers like Batsheva personify liberal, multicultural Israel. When many people have a mental image of Palestinian boys throwing stones at Merkava tanks, drawing attention to the Israel of avant-garde dance troupes is a BDS own goal.

Luke Akehurst is director of We Believe In Israel

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We don’t cherry-pick our conscience http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2010/06/we-dont-cherry-pick-our-conscience/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2010/06/we-dont-cherry-pick-our-conscience/#comments Fri, 18 Jun 2010 17:12:00 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=634 This is a guest-post by Gavin Gross

I was at Elton John’s sold-out concert last night at Ramat Gan stadium, and thought this greeting he delivered was spot-on and deserves wide distribution.

Elton told the crowd that he was happy to be back in Israel (he played here in 1993), and in a reference to anti-Israel boycotters who called on him to cancel the show, proudly proclaimed “ain’t nobody gonna stop us from coming here.” He said that as a musician his job was to spread love and peace, and that “we don’t cherry-pick our conscience,” a line for which he received extended applause.

I took this to be a sharp dig at the hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness of figures in the West who focus their ire almost exclusively on Israel, and particularly at his fellow musicians who have recently cancelled their shows here, such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Gil Scott-Heron and others.

How many musicians have cancelled their concerts in America because of the thousands of civilians the U.S. military has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and in drone attacks in Pakistan?

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Golden Lion for Israeli film http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2009/09/golden-lion-for-israeli-film/ http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/2009/09/golden-lion-for-israeli-film/#comments Sun, 13 Sep 2009 14:58:28 +0000 fpcg http://www.fairplaycg.org.uk/?p=399 An Israeli film has won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Lebanon was directed by Samuel Maoz, and is set during the 1982 Lebanon War. Almost all of the action takes place inside an Israeli tank.

Film Festivals have become a major target for boycotters. In recent months the Edinburgh, Melbourne and Toronto festivals have all been caught up in boycott attempts, led by celebrities like Ken Loach, Jane Fonda and Danny Glover. So it’s heartening to see an Israeli film get the recognition it deserves.

Speaking to the Observer today, Maoz noted:

“The point of a film like mine is to open a dialogue, to get people talking to each other about important issues. This is something you can’t do if films are boycotted. It makes no sense to boycott art. Maybe I wouldn’t have won if Jane Fonda was on the jury, but she wasn’t.”

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