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McEwan`s criticism appears hypocritical
Comment is Free--February 25,2011--After rejecting the Palestinian call to boycott the state-sponsored Jerusalem Prize, Ian McEwan has massaged his conscience by demonstrating against home demolitions in East Jerusalem, criticising Israel in his acceptance speech, and donating his prize money to an Israeli-Palestinian peace group (Report, February 20). Should his detractors, as your correspondent David Halpin (Letters, February 22) suggests, now `eat their words`? We think not. Had McEwan refused the prize, protested in Jerusalem at his own expense, and attacked not Israel`s `nihilism` but its colonialist zeal, his own words of condemnation would have had integrity and bite.
As it is, McEwan has given Mayor Nir Barkat a golden platform for his outrageous views. Jerusalem is not a city where all may `express themselves in a free way`. Activists are arrested and deported, while racist internal laws allow the municipality to flout the Geneva convention by creating illegal settlements – a policy designed to prevent East Jerusalem from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state. To criticise these settlements while accepting the laurels of those who build them appears rank hypocrisy. Likewise, McEwan declares it is `urgent to keep talking` (Report, February 18), yet after his one official defence of his position (Letters, January 26), he has ignored all public and private requests to continue this debate. So much for courtesy, dialogue and engagement.
McEwan`s condescension reached its nadir, however, in Jerusalem, when he surmised that Palestinian writers – who were not sought out by western media – had refused to meet him because of outside `pressure`. By pandering to the state of Israel, Ian McEwan has alienated not only these principled individuals. We, British, Israeli and Palestinian members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, are appalled by his conduct.
Prof Mona Baker
Dr Naomi Foyle
Prof Rachel Giora
Dr Ghada Karmi
Prof Nur Masalha
Dr Anat Matar
Dr James Miller
Dr Dorothy Naor
Dr David Nir
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