Irish artists’ academy debates boycott motion

Calls for the boycott of Israel to pressure the state to end the occupation are increasing along with Israeli violations: An elderly Palestinian man shouts slogans in front of Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the wall in the West Bank village of Bilin, west of Ramallah, 23 February 2007. (Moti Milrod/MaanImages)


At its Annual General Assembly in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (28 March 2007) the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists Aosdána debated two motions concerning Palestine presented by Margaretta D’Arcy, playwright and veteran political activist, and the composer Raymond Deane — who was a founding-member and former chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The first motion, proposed by Mr Deane and seconded by Ms D’Arcy, called for Aosdana to “back the call from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions”, and was defeated after a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious discussion. The second, proposed by Ms D’Arcy and seconded by Mr Deane, mentioned the Palestinian call and encouraged “Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in any cooperation [with Israeli cultural events and institutions]”. This motion was passed.

The full text is: “Mindful of the 4th August 2006 call from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions, Aosdána wishes to encourage Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in any such cooperation, always bearing in mind the undeniable courage of those Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals who oppose their own government’s illegal policies towards the Palestinians.”

While this is a mild resolution that leaves everything to the conscience of the individual artist and arts administrator, it should be remembered that Aosdána is a highly conservative institution that tries to steer clear of politics. This motion should be seen as a small step in the right direction.

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