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Novelist Atwood Boycotts Boycotts

Accepts Israeli prize in face of opposition

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Writer Margaret Atwood.(Wikipedia)

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood—best known for her novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin—has been made controversial for her acceptance of Tel Aviv University’s Dan David Prize, for “outstanding contribution to humanity.” Some had called for her to refuse the award in protest of … well, you know.

What makes this incident more interesting than a run-of-the-mill Israel-related controversy is that Atwood offered a staunch defense of her decision without making any sort of argument about Israel, the Palestinians, or Gaza. Rather, she opposed the very idea of a cultural boycott:

We don’t do cultural boycotts. I would be throwing overboard the thousands of writers around the world who are in prison, censored, exiled and murdered for what they have published. Why do these things happen to artists? It’s easy. Artists don’t have armies. What they do is nuanced, by which I mean it is about human beings, not about propaganda positions. They are going to offend someone no matter what they do. They are easy targets. They have names but no armies.

Irish composer Raymond Deane responded angrily. While most his rebuttal is premised on a condemnation of “the tissue of lies that the Zionists and their defenders have woven,” at one point he argues, “Culture is not a sacred realm floating far above the tribulations of the real world, and … artists in Israel and elsewhere are all too often complicit in the crimes of their governments—either by their silence, or by their willingness to allow their work and their presence to be appropriated by oppressive states.”

Atwood Says ‘We Don’t Do Cultural Boycotts’ and Accepts Israeli Prize [ArtsBeat]
Atwood Accepts Israeli Prize, Defends ‘Artists Without Armies’ [Bloomberg]
Open Letter to Margaret Atwood: Reject Tel Aviv University Prize [Oregon Salem-News]

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I have always been a great admirer of Ms. Atwood’s writing, and I’m glad to see that she has enough of a spine not to join the cultural pogrom against the Jewish state. Still, the irony here is that she was awarded the Dan David Prize for stereotypically left-wing reasons couched in insufferable jargon–what Tel Aviv University’s lit gurus see as her exploration of “transnational issues such as colonization, feminism, structures of political power and oppression, and the violation and exploitation of nature.” And while distancing herself from any claim to be propagating a “message” of this sort in her Bloomberg interview, she’s also careful to take an above-the-fray position on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The lesson is that neither impeccably left-wing views nor impressive literary credentials will spare you the wrath of today’s pogromchiks–you must condemn the Jews in full throat or be consigned to the outer darkness. How utterly depressing.

Raymond Deane? I have an extensive catalog of CDs of music of contemporary composers, some of whom just manage to lift their heads above the sea of anonymity. I have never even heard of Raymond Deane, except in the context of his hatred of Israelis. Unfortunately, outspoken hatred of Jews is still a ticket to free publicity for losers and mediocrities who have no other talent to speak of. Didn’t Sartre say that antisemitism was club with cheap membership, or something like that? It is, truly the socialism of fools.

Dani Levi says:

way to go girl!

J. Arnon says:

Raymond Deane is another antisemite from the Britsh Isles, yes I know he is Irish, but….

Speaking of lies the anti-Zionists take the gold medal in lying about Israel, Zionism and Jews.

Shalom Freedman says:

It would have been more courageous of Margeret Atwood to not only make the general point about not doing cultural boycotts, but to specifically defend the Jewish state against its many Anti- Semitic enemies. Israel is a decent, humane and democratic society. Those who would destroy it are enemies not only of Goodness, but of factual truth time and time again.
I agree with the person who commented that ‘anti-Zionism’ is these days an excellent ticket for the mediocre to draw media- attention to themselves.

Raymond Deane is well known as an anti-Semite, which he hides by claiming he is only anti-Zionist. He was a founding member and former chairperson of the Ireland–Palestine Solidarity Campaign. So, justifying hatred is probably his strongest music.


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Novelist Atwood Boycotts Boycotts

Accepts Israeli prize in face of opposition

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