Harry Potter author opposes boycott, but also Israeli policy

October 28, 2015  

British author JK Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, is against a cultural boycott of Israel but is opposed to the Israeli government’s policies, reports The Guardian.

Rowling is a member of a group of 150 British artists and authors who last week signed a letter calling for a network promoting coexistence and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians instead of a cultural boycott of Israel.

But on Tuesday, speaking to The Guardian, she admitted that she has “deplored” most of the actions of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, though she stressed she does not believe a decision by artists to refrain from cultural relations with Israel will force him from power.

She also noted that “the sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world”.

The group which Rowling joined was established in response to a letter in the Guardian in February, signed by around 700 artists, which called for a cultural boycott of Israel. It announced the launch of Culture for Coexistence, a new network which intends to “inform and encourage dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians in the wider cultural and creative community”.

Rowling was quoted by The Guardian as having said that “a number of readers” had asked for more information about why she signed the letter. She responded by saying, “I have deplored most of Mr. Netanyahu’s actions in office. However, I do not believe that a cultural boycott will force Mr. Netanyahu from power, nor have I ever heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict.”

“If any effects are felt from the proposed boycott, it will be by ordinary Israelis, many of whom did not vote for Mr. Netanyahu,” she continued. “Those Israelis will be right to ask why cultural boycotts are not also being proposed against – to take random examples – North Korea and Zimbabwe, whose leaders are not generally considered paragons by the international community.”

Rowling went on to write about her belief that “the sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world”.

According to the report, Rowling was challenged on Twitter by one Palestinian and responded, “Believing in Palestinian rights deploring occupation, I fear cultural boycott targets those most critical of govt inside Israel those views should be heard.”

The letter which Rowling signed was countered on Tuesday by a group of 343 British university professors who signed a letter supporting a boycott of Israel.

Britain’s ambassador to Israel stressed in response that the UK is “firmly opposed” to boycotts of Israel.

“The British Government firmly opposes calls to boycott Israel. We are deeply committed to promoting the UK’s academic and scientific ties with Israel, as part the flourishing partnership between the two countries,” Ambassador David Quarrey said in a statement. 

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