The Irish academy of artists, AosdÃ¡na, approved a motion encouraging its members to take into consideration the Palestinian call for cultural boycott at its annual General Assembly in the Irish Museum of Modern Art on March 28.
The assembly first debated a stronger motion presented by composer Raymond Deane – who is a founding member and former chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – which called upon AosdÃ¡na to “back the call from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions”. During the long and heated discussion around the motion Deane pointed out: “We are not asking you to fight and die. We are just asking you to do nothing and to do it constructively.” However, Zionist opposition caused the assembly to weaken the wording of the motion.
The full text of the approved motion is: “Mindful of the 4th August 2006 call from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions, AosdÃ¡na wishes to encourage Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in any such cooperation, always bearing in mind the undeniable courage of those Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals who oppose their own government’s illegal policies towards the Palestinians.”
While this is mild resolution leaves the decision to boycott to the conscience of the individual artist and arts administrator, it has still stirred a lot of media coverage and public discussion. And it is definitely a step in the right direction.
The motion comes after 61 university professors published an open letter in the Irish Times last summer calling for a moratorium on cooperation with Israeli institutions (for the full text, click here click here ), the recent request from Irish bishops for the suspension of the EU-Israel free Trade Agreement, and the Irish Foreign Affairs Committee calling to review the Agreement.
This further boycott call is thus part of a larger civil society movement for justice and shows that in Ireland even highly conservative institutions such as AosdÃ¡na are forced to take a stand.