A Scottish Cultural Workers Boycott of Israel

On 7 October, Israel launched an extensive aerial bombardment across all areas of Gaza, hitting homes, hospitals, clinics, schools and essential infrastructure. This has resulted in mass casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Since then:

  • More than 30,717 Palestinians have been killed, around 51% of whom are children and women.
  • Thousands more are thought to remain missing under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes
  • 200,000 + housing units damaged or destroyed, roughly 45% of all homes in Gaza.
[Source: Medical Aid for Palestine]

Oxfam International tell us that (‘Gaza Crisis Appeal‘): “The conflict in Gaza continues to take a devastating toll on civilians. People who survive the relentless airstrikes are living in overcrowded shelters, in tents, on the streets. With little food or clean water. If bombs don’t kill them, disease or starvation are round the corner. This is an appalling humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is a reaction to the reality we see unfolding before our eyes.

The following is a statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine. The collection of writers, musicians, film-makers, theatre directors, playwrights, poets, actors, DJs, artists and singers below are unaffiliated and come together to make this statement.

In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to reject any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, or to participate in events supported by the military and arms companies enabling war in Palestine.

As cultural workers we refuse to allow our art to be exploited by an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights.

We call for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid and stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and wider Palestine. We call for the release of all hostages and political prisoners.

For more resources go to Art Workers for Palestine here.

If you are a Scottish artist (or artist based in Scotland) and would like to add your signature, you are invited to join us. Please contact us HERE and we can add your name.

Jim Kelman – Writer
Hanna Tuuluki – Artist
Jim Sutherland – Producer/Composer
Dougie Strang – Writer
Kathryn Joseph – Musician
Adam Ramsay – Journalist
Christopher Brookmyre – Writer
Jim Monaghan – Poet
Layla-roxanne hill – Author
Christopher Silver – Writer
Kevin Williamson – Writer
Peter Arnott – Playwright
Jamie Wardrop – Artist
Tam Dean Burn – Artist
Tony Reekie – Theatre Director
Gerry Loose – Poet
Iona Fyffe – Musician
George Finlay Ramsay – Artist
Halina Rifai – Podcast Producer
Gerda Stevenson – Actor, Writer
Kris Drever – Musician
Aidan O’Rourke – Musician
Eliza Carthy – Musician
Morag McKinnon – Film Director
Ross Ainslie – Musician
Su-a Lee  – Musician
Ken McCluskey – Musician
Kate Donnelly – Actor, Director
Darren McGarvey – Musician, Author
Sophie Ramsay – Singer
Dr Alex Boyd – Photographer
Rory Scothorne – Writer
Aly Bain – Musician
Joyce McMillan – Journalist
Dave Maric – Composer
Mike Small – Writer
Angus Farquhar – Creative Director
Karen Matheson – Singer
Iona Lee – Poet-Artist
Linda Duncan McLaughlin – Writer, Actor
Gordon Mackinnon – Artist/Musician
Neil Cooper – Writer
Paul Sng – Filmmaker
Arusa Qureshi – Writer, Music programmer
David McKay – Actor
Calum Colvin – Artist
Dave Hook – Musician
Irvine Welsh – Writer
Robert Alan Jamieson – Poet
Stanley Odd – Musicians
George Gunn – Poet
Stephen Greenhorn – Dramatist
Skye Reynolds – Dancer
Samir Mehanovic – Film Maker
Cora Bissett – Actor/Director
JD Twitch – DJ/Producer
Jonnie Wilkes – DJ/Producer
Jill O’Sullivan – Musician
Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir- Director, Playwright
Young Fathers – Musicians
Caroline Yates – Writer, Producer
Mark Brown – Critic and author
Michael Pederesen – Poet
Stewart Bremner – Artist
Kieran Hurley – Playwright
Carla J Easton – Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Calum Baird – Musician, Singer/Songwriter
Owen McLaughlin – Artist, Musician
Mike Gunn – Designer
Harry Josephine Giles – Writer
Talat Yaqoob – Writer
Sara Shaarawi – Playwright
Neil Findlay – Writer
Mira Knoche – Artist
Johnny Rodger – Writer
Donna McLean – Writer
Barry Graham – Novelist and Poet
Penny Anderson – Artist
Pete Clive – Poet
Fiona Ferguson – Creative Director
John Paul McGroarty – Theatre Director
Mogwai – Musicians
Elisabeth Elektra – Musician

Image from Book Workers for a Free Palestine

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has launched an unprecedented emergency response amid growing critical health needs in Gaza and the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, resulting from the current escalation of violence and Israel’s ongoing bombardment and complete siege on Gaza. Support MAP here.




Comments (37)

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  1. Carolyn Yates says:

    Please add my name to your statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine.
    I’m a writer and producer

  2. Tam Dean Burn says:

    A great, vital initiative.

    This section of the statement “ or to participate in events supported by the military and arms companies enabling war in Palestine. “ has to mean no involvement with the British military aiding the genocide such as its cultural wing Army At The Fringe.

  3. SleepingDog says:

    Shouldn’t you also be boycotting the USA, then? No less a pariah rogue state than Israel. Ditto the British Empire, of course. Why does the USA always seem to get a free pass (I’m thinking of the hypocrisy around boycotting the Qatar and USA men’s national football World Cups, for example)?

    1. Tam Dean Burn says:

      There was a boycott of SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas last week by over 100 bands due to its sponsorship by the US military and arms companies. As stated this cultural boycott of Israel has been asked for by Palestinian civil society as a non-violent international means to help dismantle the apartheid system there.

    2. John Wood says:

      Of course, you’re right. The problem is that, as my father used to say, ‘the best is the enemy of the good’. Or as a certain supermarket likes to say, ‘Every little helps’. Boycotting the US is a good idea, but might not be immediately possible to do effectively, so we can at least start by focussing on boycotting Israel itself. And the support Israel depends upon from the US and UK.

      The other thing we can do is to ask why the US is so invested in Israel. (The UK is simply a US puppet these days and does as its told). It goes beyond the cynical granting of oil and gas exploration rights in Gaza to BP, and no doubt many lucrative contracts for weaponry and later for rebuilding Gaza (a Jewish one) to US companies. We need to call out the lie of ‘anti-semitism’. ‘Semitic’ really refers to a cultural and linguistic heritage that is actually shared by Palestinians. The concept of a ‘semitic race’ is itself pure racism, not invented but much elaborated by the Nazis. There is no ‘master race’ and no ‘chosen people’ with an exclusive right to lebensraum.

      Judaism is an ancient and respected worldwide religion that includes people from a wide variety of backgrounds. And it is completely different from political Zionism. Many, possibly most, Zionists are not Jewish at all but right wing American ‘Evangelical Christians’ who believe Biblical ‘predictions’ that Jews will return to Israel and there, destroy themselves. The return of Jews to a Jews-only state will, they think, be followed by the final battle of Armageddon, when Jews will be forced to convert to Christianity or go to hell. Christ will supposedly then return and rule the world from Jerusalem – no doubt on behalf of America! The Southern Baptists in particular have enormous influence in the Republican party.

      Insisting that anyone, Jewish or not, who opposes the current genocide is ‘anti-semitic’ is itself anti-semitic. The state of Israel does not represent all Jews, and all Jews are not complicit in genocide. Many British Jews opposed the formation of Israel as a nation state in 1948. But the subsequent violent history seems almost designed to generate anti-Jewish as well as anti-Muslim hatred. Divide and rule. Israel used to try to convince ‘diaspora’ Jews that they would be safer moving to Israel – but this is now harder than ever.

      Meanwhile, while we are all distracted, the American robber barons and their friends are still preparing their world-wide “Great Reset’ totalitarian coup d’état. Possibly for this autumn, and using all the modern weaponry (including biological, chemical, directed energy, and above all cognitive warfare) at their disposal. But of course talk about growing totalitarianism, naked fascism and violence across the planet – that would all be dangerous ‘conspiracy theory’ wouldn’t it?

    3. I mean, sure, and as Tam points out there was a huge boycott of SXSW the other week (as we covered here). But you’re right, Israel is the aggressor but the US is the funder and arms dealer (along with the UK).

    4. Niemand says:

      The question for me is how do we get Israel to stop (and of course beyond that how do we stop the conflict in the longer term)?

      A clued-up and very experienced US commentator on the radio the other night made the obvious point that the only real game in town is via Netanyahu and one of the few with any real influence is Biden. He was totally against what Israel is doing btw but his point was any major breakdown of relations between the US and Israel will likely lead to much lower chances of any breakthrough. Now you might argue that total isolation by the US could have a serious effect in the medium terms, especially if arms supplies are stopped but how sound that reasoning is I don’t know as I don’t know what kind of stockpile Israel has and whether they could just get arms from somewhere else.

      We need to be careful that salving one’s personal conscience and animus against Israel (and the US) is is not obscuring realities.

      1. Satan says:

        The Israeli state would very likely stop bombing people if Hamas surrendered. Of course, you are correct that the Israeli state would not stop bombing people because Irvine Welsh isn’t going to Tel Aviv.

      2. John Learmonth says:

        Obscuring realities……the reality is that if Hamas we’re in charge every single one of these signatories would be put to death.
        Your enemies enemy is not your friend, although why so many people on the left detest the secular, democratic state of Israel……could it be that 75% of the population are Jews ?

        1. Niemand says:

          This is beside the point because who is trying to persuade Hamas to stop / surrender and even if they were what chance do they have? The obvious parallel with the US is Iran and its military support of Hamas; are they going to have a mitigating effect? There is a much greater possibility of progress via Netanyahu and the biggest player in that is the US. That is the reality.

          1. John Learmonth says:

            Why is it beside the point?
            Are any of the signatories asking Hamas to return the hostages/recognise the state of Israel/stop killing Jews for the sole reason that they’re Jews/have free and fair elections without murdering their opponents/give equal recognition to women/stop stoning to death homosexuals/free press….I could go on and on.

          2. “Are any of the signatories asking Hamas to return the hostages?”

            Yes, absolutely.

            Read the ******* piece.

            “We call for the release of all hostages and political prisoners.“

          3. Niemand says:

            Yes you could go on and on but you are missing the point. I am talking about what is most likely to reduce the bloodshed, now. I am looking at it pragmatically. What you are really saying is Israel should carry on what they are doing in order to defeat Hamas since Hamas will stop no other way and they deserve to be wiped out. That is your prerogative but what this article is about is stopping the bloodshed being inflicted by Israel which is on a far greater scale than Hamas, whatever the evils of their work.

        2. Gordon McAdam says:


        3. BSA says:

          You attach yourself, like shite to a blanket, to every decent humane discussion on this site.

        4. John says:

          Absolute hysterical nonsense.
          The reality is that Israel has the capability to wipe out every person in Palestine as we are seeing in real time.
          HAMAS perpetrated an atrocity against 1000+ Israeli’s but do not have anything like capability to inflict further atrocities let alone wipe out every Israeli citizen. The USA would not allow such an event to be attempted.
          The US security services also understand that it is impossible to wipe out HAMAS militarily or politically.
          What we are seeing is revenge not justice plus an Israeli leader willing to sacrifice every citizen in Palestine to stay in power.
          The IDF have already degraded HAMAS the time is overdue for IDF to stop, take responsibility for homeless Palestinians starving and for BN to stand down to allow the healing and peace process to begin.

        5. SleepingDog says:

          @John Learmonth, it has been a week for the emergence of the most unlikely proponents of women’s equality, but perhaps you are confused over the patriarchal nature of Abrahamic religions? Take, for example, the Haredi Jewish population of the undemocratic Zionist-apartheid-settler-colonial state Israel where the rule of international law is routinely defied and domestic judicial standards are being dismantled by religious extremists, which group are not exactly beacons of women’s equality. In fact, those in the know seem concerned that women’s rights are further under attack in Israel, which is projected to have a Haredi majority within decades (Armageddon permitting) due mainly to their reproduction rates more than doubling the national average.

        6. John McIntosh says:

          Stop pretending John. This comment is nothing more than yet another tired attempt to smear those who protest against genocide as anti-Semitic. Just stop it. Israel secular? What? It’s a self-proclaimed Jewish state John. And democratic? The small minority of Palestinians to whom Israel granted citizenship are second class citizens – the vast majority of Palestinians are denied democratic expression because Israel has rendered them effectively stateless, languishing in territories that are theoretically self-governing, but in which every aspect of life is ultimately controlled by … guess who? The actual governing state – Israel. This is a new meaning of the word democracy.

      3. SleepingDog says:

        @Tam Dean Burn, Editor, sure, I read that festival boycott piece; my take is that it could be both significant and yet less than a pin-prick (we often don’t know what small actions will cross the threshold of a tipping point, and balloons have burst from these). What is perhaps more typical is the massive artistic engagement with the goals of National Security Cinema etc in the USA and its British or Israeli equivalents. To understand what might be going on now, we should understand what went on before (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders is an eye-opening treatment).

        @John Wood, something like this? Praying for Armageddon: Evangelicals, the US and the Middle East (the documentary is a bit scattergun compared to some of their tighter, shorter documentaries, but I guess they’ll tie the themes up in a later episode):

        Perhaps the follow-up question is, if we cannot today boycott the USA, why not? Why have we become so dependent/enslaved to this one modern empire? Did Brexit damage the EU’s ability to form an independent bloc, or perhaps remove a dragging anchor and thus hasten it? How can we gain the independence we will need to oppose the USA and its NATO slaves in future?

        @Niemand, our personal consciences are opaque, of course, but I am much more concerned about the world being turned into a radioactive/boiling/pollution-choked hell planet for most of its surviving species long, long after I’m dead and forgotten. If the USA consider Netanyahu an obstacle to their goals, how long will he last in power?

        I have at last reached the final chapter of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow, and I agree with their view that:
        p502 “Nowadays, most of us find it increasingly difficult even to picture what an alternative economic or social order would be like. Our distant ancestors seem, by contrast, to have moved regularly back and forth between them.”

        I think there has been a collective failure especially including cultural workers in providing such alternative visions. Perhaps instead of boycotting these modern British and USAmerican empires, we could at least expose them, their crimes, their nasty little private clubs (where cultural gatekeepers and secret-keepers conspire to kill alternative governance), their histories and their practices. Instead of, y’know, just taking their coin, bowing for pats and slathering on the whitewash.

        1. By definition those signed up to this statement are nor ‘taking their coin’. That’s literally the point.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Editor, I don’t include Israel in “these modern British and USAmerican empires”, but as a client (albeit a genocidal one), or as the Duke of Albany says to Edmund:
            “I hold you but a subject of this war,
            Not as a brother.”
            King Lear, A5s3

            I’ve found a rather fascinating difference between how British corporate artists like the RSC approach Shakespeare’s plays compared with USAmerican semipro productions. The USAmerican ones often keep the most biting anti-monarchical speeches even in highly-abridged performances, which the British luvvie versions seem very uncomfortable with. Case in point, Malcolm’s speech on being a worse king than Macbeth.

            Maybe there’s some truth in the piece Edward Bond wrote for the Guardian from 1995:

  4. Satan says:

    The head of the Gazan government, Mr Yaya Fuckwit, has apparently personally tortured at least one person to death, strangled a few people to death and God knows what else. Boris Johnstone will never catch up. He is lined up against a right-wing zealot called Nyetanyahoo………… I think the pair of them couldn’t raise enough empathy for innocents to light a candle. I suppose that international peace-keeping would involve the peace-keepers getting slaughtered. A new Angola but with religion. Iran/Qatar = Cuba/ANC, USA/etc = Zaire/Zuid Africa = death and mayhem.

    1. Alec Lomax says:

      That made sense in your own head, I suppose?

  5. greum maol stevenson says:

    Add my name, please.

    greum maol stevenson (a.k.a. Barry Graham) — novelist and poet

  6. Susie Robertson says:

    Susan Fiona Robertson

  7. Satan says:

    Palestinian civil society involved the last election being held 18 years ago, with Fatah getting the West Bank of the Jordan and Hamas getting Gaza. The two of them get along so well they were busy shooting each other during the election and decrying each other in 2024. The idea of a two state solution is currently absurd, and no-one has had the balls to call for a one-state solution since Balfour.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Satan, I have heard pundits, diplomats, journalists making the case very recently:

    2. Fred Schlomka says:

      Actually Hamas won the 2006 election in both the West Bank and Gaza. Jimmie Carter was there as an observer (as I was too) and he declared it to be the most free and fair election ever held in the Middle East. After Hamas won, Fatah colluded with the Israeli and US security services to assassinate, depose and imprison Hamas elected representatives in the West Bank. This spawned the civil war between Hamas and Fatah which resulted in a Hamas win in Gaza.

  8. Peter Clive says:

    Add my name please: Peter Clive – Poet

  9. John Paul McGroarty Theatre Director says:

    Please add my name

  10. Douglas MacIntyre says:

    Please add my name to this boycott. I am a musician and writer.

  11. SleepingDog says:

    I checked what the aim of this cultural boycott is:
    “The cultural boycott of Israel should continue until Israel is in compliance with the three basic demands outlined in the 2005 BDS Call.
    “To end their collusion in Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and become non-boycottable, Israeli cultural institutions must fulfill two basic conditions: a. Publicly recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law (including the three basic rights in the 2005 BDS Call) and
    “b. End all forms of complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law,including discriminatory policies and practices as well as diverse roles in whitewashing or justifying Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”
    — Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

    So, are signatories (some of whom seem to have left it until nearly six months into a genocide) committing themselves to the PACBI goals (a and b), or just to “an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid and … the release of all hostages and political prisoners”? After which, business as usual?

  12. SteveH says:

    I could have sworn I posted something on this. I must have imagined it.

    To summarise what I said is that:

    1. The combatants in this tragedy don’t care what artists far away in Scotland actually think.

    2. Most of the artists risk nothing in being outspoken. They would never be awarded a contract or commission in Israel or by Israeli commissioners.

    3. Those who may actually have some future connection with the Israeli or Jewish arts scene will keep very quiet about their name being on the list.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      And yet…

      That you cannot pinpoint which straw broke the camel’s back in the case of ending Apartheid in South Africa is not an argument against adding straws, or statements of boycott. Those fearing a seismic event are not unconcerned by little tremors. If you prefer a military metaphor looking at the case of omitting small actions sometimes having great consequences, see For Want of a Nail. These form part of complexity theory, tipping points and phase shifts, and you might also hear about critical mass (more relevant here) or butterfly effect (not so relevant).

      You asked for shared values, so why sneer at these? Wars are fought on many fronts these days. Israel pours resources into its anti-BDS organs.

    2. John Wood says:

      SteveH, To answer your points:

      1. “The combatants in this tragedy don’t care what artists far away in Scotland actually think.”

      I disagree. I think both sides care very much what artists around the world actually think.

      2. ‘Most of the artists risk nothing in being outspoken. They would never be awarded a contract or commission in Israel or by Israeli commissioners.’

      As these artists are never likely to want a contract or commission from Israel, what is your point here? Actually they do risk being targeted by Israel for speaking out. Expect attack stories planted in the press and media, false accusations if ‘anti-semitism’, and so on. Israel will do its best to destroy them one way or another. But I fully expect all the more contracts and commissions to flow from the rest of the world, which is utterly horrified at Israel’s genocide.

      3. ‘Those who may actually have some future connection with the Israeli or Jewish arts scene will keep very quiet about their name being on the list.’

      You conflate Israeli with Jewish. There are growing numbers of anti-Zionist Jews who will be very happy to see and celebrate any names on the list.

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