“The state is guilty of war crimes”: Scotland’s national poet endorses Israel boycott

Scotland’s national poet Liz Lochhead says “we must protest by any means possible Israel’s current actions in Gaza.”

Ashraf Amra APA images

Liz Lochhead, the Makar or National Poet of Scotland, today announced that she is formally endorsing the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Lochhead, who has been involved in a number of cultural exchange initiatives with Palestinian writers, including a recent book of poetry, told The Electronic Intifada by phone that:

“Last year I wrote that I would sign up to the boycott: I think it’s necessary, we’ve got to use everything in our power. It’s difficult, nobody wants to be against academic activities and the arts, but we’ve got to show that this state is a pariah.”

Scottish National Poet Liz Lochhead

Scottish National Poet Liz Lochhead

Norman McBeath
Lochhead’s decision to publicly endorse the boycott call now comes in response not only to the current attack on Gaza — of which she commented to The Electronic Intifada that “you could cry every night, watching the news.” It comes also as part of a wider call made by Scottish campaigners to the country’s arts community to resist the presence of an Israeli state-funded theater company at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Underbelly, one of the largest players in the Fringe, which is itself the world’s largest arts festival, are hosting Incubator Theater Company’s production of a play called The City. Incubator is a Jerusalem-based group whose participation in the Fringe is being bankrolled by the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

“A necessary process”

The Makar’s formal public statement was sent directly to The Electronic Intifada. It reads:

I, Liz Lochhead, Scots Makar or National Poet of Scotland, wish to sign this letter in support of a Cultural Boycott of Israeli Artists and Academics where they are in any way funded by the State of Israel.

This is part of a necessary process — this boycotting — if a painful one for all liberals — because we, the international community, must protest by any means possible Israel’s current actions in Gaza, and indeed its ongoing illegal treatment of all Palestinians.

The State of Israel is guilty of War Crimes. Its leaders should be charged with them. Now.

We must accuse our own government of complicity in these crimes.




And let's not stop at the UK. The European Union does goed work, but has a HORRIFIC record with Palestinians. As Israel's first trading partner the EU is PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE for what happens to Palestinians


I am absolutely appalled at the UK goverment for not speaking out against Israels continual assault on the Palestinian people. This is an opportunity for me to express my disgust.

Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.