Written in response to the protests and hate email etc...toward the cinepoetry event that was to be held on November 22nd 2013
The immovable context of the last week in Israel and Gaza has led to the Rich mix and I deciding to cancel the Cinepotery event that was scheduled to take place tomorrow evening. It is intended as an act of respect for those who have lost their lives in the horrific events that have occurred.
I am fundamentally against Israeli foreign policy. What is happening is Gaza is immoral and reprehensible. There is no debate on this matter. However, the ineviable moral conundrum for me was whether I supposed to abandon artists who I know to be liberal, peaceful and only concerned with their art because of their nationality? Israel's foreign policy is a crime, but it is a democratic country, like Britain, that does fund dissenting artists through it's art council. The event was not only without reference to Israeli nationalism, it was open to debate and discussion about the events of the last week. The movement against the reading has succeeded in silencing dissenting artists who actually live with the violence every day and are in a position to do something concrete against it. Something that cannot be said of us here, protesting from Britain. If we do not unilaterally boycott Chinese artists who have enjoyed government patronage with Tibet in mind, or Russian funded artists with Chechnya, or British or American funded artists with Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not possible for me to abandon those from Israel without considering their views.
There may be a day when our government does something that we are ashamed of (again). If on that day we find ourselves abroad, offering a dissenting voice, I hope our friends in that place will allow us to speak and not offer us up as scapegoats for acts we had no hand in. Art is the ground on which things may be changed for the better, and when we abandon all hope of dialogue in favour of boycott or abstention things remain ossified.
An artist is not guilty of the crimes of their state because they happen to have been born in that state. Without taking any recourse to their charcter or the nature of their work, we cannot make people guilty by association. One day we may be defined this way, as British people have been in the past, and on that day I hope those who so secure in their own morality, who are willing, at the very least, to listen.