“Irish writer Gerard Donovan has attacked the pro-Palestinian boycott movement for trying to “bully” him to abstain from visiting Israel and take part in the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem this week. Donovan, a prominent novelist and poet, accused the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) of “outright intimidation.”
Over the last few weeks, Donovan has been the focus of a campaign by pro-Palestinian activists to observe a pledge to boycott Israel, signed in 2010 by 219 Irish artists, and not to legitimize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank by participating in the writers’ festival. Open letters and petitions were addressed to him over the internet but Donovan, who is currently living in a cabin in New York and recovering from cancer, said in an interview with the Irish Times that he was unaware of the letters. He explained that he had cancelled his visit two months ago due to his ill health and that the activists were “idiots” for targeting him.
“If I had been well, I would have gone to Jerusalem,” he told the newspaper. “It is the job of the novelists to write things people don’t want to read and to go places where other people don’t want to go. Nobody tells me where I can or cannot read my work. I’m not going to allow myself to be drawn into any political controversy for any people’s ends, I don’t care how many other writers they line up, it is completely irrelevant to me.”
Last week, two Irish bands cancelled concerts in Israel due to pressure from the boycott movement. Cathy Jordan, the leader of Dervish, one of the bands, apologized for the cancellation saying that I wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us.” Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter accused the activists of “cyberbullying.” “
Donovan Gerard is not giving in to their bullying. He replied in the Irish Times:
“I have always had a mistrust of organised mobs. I marched against one in the 1970s beside my father, who was active in the Itinerant Settlement Committee, along with a handful of others. Our family used to get bullets in envelopes, and my father made the front page of The Irish Times getting himself beaten up. Everyone has certain memories branded on to their young minds – that day is one of mine. Even if those mobs have in time changed to keyboard warriors expressing a more cultivated umbrage, the threats are still threats.
My brother Richard, a high-profile figure in the ultramarathon world, reached out to Dr Deane by email and phone.
There followed an exchange of emails. I would have imagined that Dr Deane would have welcomed dialogue with a leading sports figure. Instead, he terminated my brother’s polite and thoughtful points, including the obvious one that sports and politics should never mix, with the following response: “This discussion, as far as I am concerned, is hereby terminated. And further reply from you will go to spam.” “
(H/T: Eamonn McDonagh)