We wrote a couple of months back of a report which uncovered Irish government funding of the main agitators for boycotting Israel within the Irish cultural community. Even more interesting in many ways is this piece by Nicky Larkin, an Irish film-maker, who recently spent seven weeks in Israel and the Palestinian areas trying to see and hear how things look from the perspective of those living on the ground.
Larkin first takes his anti-Israel artistic peers to task for their closed-mindedness:
“And as I made the effort to empathize, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.
The problem began when I resolved to come back with a film that showed both sides of the coin. Actually there are many more than two. Which is why my film is called Forty Shades of Grey. But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable.”
He then suggests that Ireland’s state-sponsored affiliation of creative artists may actually be intimidating members to support boycotts:
“What happened to the notion of the artist as a free thinking individual? Why have Irish artists surrendered to group-think on Israel? Could it be due to something as crude as career-advancement?
Artistic leadership comes from the top. Aosdana, Ireland’s State-sponsored affiliation of creative artists, has also signed the boycott. Aosdana is a big player. Its members populate Arts Council funding panels.
Some artists could assume that if their name is on the same boycott sheet as the people assessing their applications, it can hardly hurt their chances. No doubt Aosdana would dispute this assumption. But the perception of a preconceived position on Israel is hard to avoid.”
Hard-hitting stuff, but it rings true. The question is, are there other independent-minded Irish artists out there willing to join Larkin in calling out the institutional bias which afflicts their community?