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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Ian McEwan can`t escape the politics
A response--January 29, 2011

We thank Ian McEwan for responding to our letter (Letters, 24 January), but we, the undersigned, must continue to express our profound disagreement with his decision to accept the Jerusalem prize. Courtesy does not oblige us to respect a decision that fails the Palestinian people by rejecting their call for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Israeli state. BDS was launched by over 170 civil society organisations in 2005: after Susan Sontag and Arthur Miller received the prize.

In reply to Ian McEwan`s claim that literature transcends political considerations, we put three questions to him. First, as the prize is awarded by the Jerusalem municipality, isn`t accepting it a fundamentally political action? Second, would he have accepted a prize funded by apartheid South Africa? And finally, isn`t it now abundantly clear that the long slow process of `dialogue and engagement` with intransigent Israeli governments has only enabled them to tighten their stranglehold on Gaza and the West Bank?

Art, we believe, may change the hearts and minds of individuals; in the callous hands of politicians it is but a tin trophy. Boycott, however, worked in South Africa, and now our Israeli friends tell us BDS is forcing senior Israeli journalists and politicians to anxiously recognise the shift in world opinion against their country`s decades of human rights abuses. Ian McEwan opposes the illegal settlements that may soon make an independent Palestinian state nothing but a ruined dream. Please, we ask him, do not co-author another disgraceful chapter in the west`s ugly elegy to Palestine. Stay home and help to build a just Jerusalem at last!

Rowyda Amin

John Berger

Prof Mona Baker

Naomi Foyle

Fred Johnston

Judith Kazantzis

Eleanor Kilroy

Wendy Klein

Diane Langford

Dr Nur Masalha

China Miville

Dr Khadiga Safwat

Seni Seneviratne

Tom Vowler

Irving Weinman

Robin Yassin-Kassab
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