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July 14, 2017 10:19 am

Artists Boycotting Other Artists Will Not Lead to Peace

avatar by Lana Melman

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Lincoln Center. Photo: Nils Olander via Wikimedia Commons.

An open letter published by the anti-Israel group Adalah-NY and signed by more than 60 artists recently asked the Lincoln Center theater to cancel scheduled performances of David Grossman’s play, To the End of the Land.

The signatories included, among others, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Tracy Letts, Lynn Nottage and Annie Baker; the acclaimed director Sam Gold; actress Greta Gerwig; musician Roger Waters; and the playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and his My Dinner with Andre co-star Andre Gregory.

Their call for a boycott was not based on the content of the play — which, in fact, has an anti-war message. Instead, they called for cancelling the show because they do not agree with the policies of the Israeli government.

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Lincoln Center has wisely, and firmly, denied their request.

This growing support among artists for a cultural boycott of Israel creates a clear and present danger not just to Israel, but to the creative community itself.

Why? Because cultural boycotts beget cultural boycotts, and artists who support cultural boycotts may soon be targeted themselves.

For example, there is now a petition to boycott Roger Waters because of his anti-Israel activities; at the time of this writing, the petition has more than 5,500 signatures. In addition, the Israel Group has initiated a campaign to boycott the signatories to the Lincoln Center letter, as well as other BDS supporters such as Emma Thompson and Stephen Hawking.

The artist community has also long-recognized the importance of the government-funded National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Just a few months ago, when there was concern that funding for the NEA might be eliminated in the new federal budget, members of the community voiced their opposition in national publications across the country. They championed fiscal support for the arts as essential to cultural exchange, and said that it was a linchpin of democracy. They also linked government funding to the future of the freedom of artistic expression.

At no time did anyone in the artistic community lobby for defunding the program because they disagreed with the policies of the current US administration. If lack of government funding for the arts erodes freedom of artistic expression and cultural exchange, surely cultural boycotts do even worse.

The thing that is most treasured by the artistic community — freedom of expression and cultural exchange — is being undermined by the community itself through its actions. Boycotting artists from one country because the rest of the world doesn’t like the policies of its leadership sets a precedent that can easily be applied to others.

To the signatories of the Lincoln Center letter, I say: be careful what you wish for.

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  • Hard Little Machine

    Here’s an idea. Create a law in Israel that calls out all BDS supporters by NAME, and ban them from entry to Israel for life.

  • ita

    Since tere are many states that have passed anti BDS legislation we recomend that all those states must defund and disallow any of the artists that signet the letter. Tbe ADL lawyers should contact all those ststes and start law suites.

  • retired22

    Who cares,…in the end these self important fools are legends,…..but only in their own minds.
    Like the Hollywood types who were aghast at president Trumps victory last November!
    They tossed their verbal thunderbolts in defiant outrage & promised to leave America & the great unwashed behind for other places.
    To date,has anyone heard of any of these dope smoking fornicators leaving Hollywood? I haven’t!
    Any of these fools who can associate with a virulent Jew hater like Roger Waters deserves being cast as a fool themselves

  • BradD99

    When are Jews going to fight back and go on the offensive?

    Why isn’t there a single Jewish group in the world who is making lists of these antisemitic boycotters and starting a movement to boycott THEM?

    Why are Jewish groups always on the defensive, and polite about it? Isn’t anyone going to step up, get dirty and go on the offensive?

  • brynababy

    That is amazing to me. As an artist myself, I have always believed that my peers and colleagues would never interfere with others even if they had different political or humanistic beliefs. It is absolutely outrageous. Especially when I hear of no boycotts of artists from the many countries who actually do abuse and denigrate women, gays, diverse elements in their societies. Anyone who has been to Israel knows, though it may have many faults as even the US, England, France, etc., do, it is a complete Democracy with Arabs working side by side with Jewish Israelis in businesses, gov’t. offices, restaurants, shops, etc., etc. Why don’t they boycott Hamas or the P whose leaders pocket the billions of dollars the Palestinians receive in gifts from Abroad, instead of building schools, hospitals, office buildings, etc. basketball courts, gymnasiums and on and on. They are keeping their people in the dark and in poverty. And they have caused the loss of good paying jobs for Palestinians in many areas.

  • Sebastien Zorn

    I say Boycott the Boycotters.

  • enufizenuf

    Roger Waters an artist??? Oh, please!
    As for the others, there is no group less learned or rational and more extravagant in their useless bloviations then so-called artists, more correctly – ‘artistes’, and less prone to worry about the truth than the stink they can raise for themselves. Publish the complete list of these 60 sanctimonious has-been buffoons so what’s left of their pathetic careers can be extinguished, oh brief candle, even quicker.

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