In a blow to BDS, big time Brits — like J.K. Rowling — boo boycott

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) is sobbing in their cereal today.

More than 150 British artists, intellectuals, and politicians — including “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, English Jewish historian Simon Schama and Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel of “Wolf Hall” and “Bringing Up the Bodies” – have published an open letter in The Guardian declaring the wrongheadedness of boycotting the Jewish state. The effort was an apparent response to another letter published back in February, in which a group of British artists declared they would “not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel.”

Rowling and others delivered a firm rebuttal, calling a boycott “divisive and discriminatory,” and said that it would “not further peace.”

We do not believe cultural boycotts are acceptable or that the letter you published accurately represents opinion in the cultural world in the UK.

Therefore we are writing to declare our support for the launch and aims of Culture for Coexistence – an independent UK network representing a cross-section from the cultural world.

We will be seeking to inform and encourage dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians in the wider cultural and creative community. While we may not all share the same views on the policies of the Israeli government, we all share a desire for peaceful coexistence.

Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory, and will not further peace. Open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance, and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.

Ultimately we all believe in a two-state solution so that the national self-determination of both peoples is realised, with the state of Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.

The letter represents part of a growing coalition of internationally renowned artists who believe boycott is simply a bad idea.

Following the Gaza War last summer, the Hollywood-based anti-boycott group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) gathered nearly 200 Hollywood signatures for a New York Times ad denouncing violence and calling out Hamas for the “hatred and genocide” reflected in its charter.