Send in the clowns

February 12, 2015

Bassem Eid, in a blog posted at the Times of Israel (“We Palestinians hold the key to a better future”) says:

“Despite what we tell ourselves, Israel is here to stay. What’s more, it has a right to exist. It is the nation of the Jews but also a nation for Israeli Arabs who have better lives than Arabs anywhere in Arab countries. We must accept these facts and move on. The antisemitism promoted by Hamas, Fatah, and the BDS movement is not the answer for us Palestinians.”


February 13, 2015

In a letter posted at the Guardian, Peter Kosminsky and 99 other members of the British arts establishment, declare:

“Along with more than 600 other fellow artists, we are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government.”


Declaration of BDS

In short, it’s a BDS declaration. Yes, the self same BDS that Bassam Eid, and others, have rightly pointed out, serves to promote antisemitism. (And many critics of BDS, rightfully in my view, go further than that. A discussion for another time and place.)

Meantime, we have a challenge. It’s a tough one. You have to think long and hard about it: who has a better – and, frankly, more honest – appraisal of the situation?

On the one hand, Bassem Eid. Per the TOI, he is described as the founder and former director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). He is, openly, both an advocate for peace with Israel, and a critic of terrorism. His post includes this important context:

“I am a proud Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp and raised a large family. I want peace and prosperity for my people. I want an end to the misery and the destruction.

After 66 years of mistakes and missed opportunities, it is time for us Palestinians to create the conditions for peace and to work for a better future. It is time that we stopped pretending that we can destroy Israel or drive the Jews into the sea. It is time that we stopped listening to Muslim radicals or Arab regimes that use us to continue a pointless, destructive, and immoral war with Israel.”

On the other hand we have several hundred British artists

I think the artists have proven, were it ever in doubt, that fame, fortune, and fashion (in varying qualities) often qualify you to be important, significant, knowledgeable, and righteous. But only in your own eyes.

BDS have sent in the clowns.