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Breaking the cultural boycott

From Christine Drake

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

On Wednesday 26 November Martha Wainwright will be appearing at the Trades Club after recently performing in Israel. The Trades are aware of this but are still allowing the concert to go ahead. Which begs the question is the Trades still describing its self as a Socialist club?

Other questions need to be asked to those attending this event because they like the Trades have choices to make.

Among those choices are return your ticket to the Trades asking why this concert is even going ahead. Lose the money you paid for the ticket and join us on the picket line. Stand in solidarity with the oppressed not the oppressor.

However if a night out is more important to you than genocide, apartheid, torture and the murder of innocent civilians. Acts committed day after day by the Israeli government against the Palestinians...

Enjoy your Martha Wainwright concert!

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

This is really unfortunate and presents a dilemma for the Trades and those wishing to go and see a world-renowned artist.

I am sure both venue and fans have acted in entirely good faith and while I agree with Christine generally, she could do with cutting a little slack here. As far as I am aware, Martha Wainwright does not have a pro-Israel /anti-Palestinian reputation, or at least I would be very surprised if she has, and she will have been booked well of her appearance in Israel a couple of weeks ago.

Nevertheless, there has been a very well- known and entirely justified cultural boycott of Israel (with obvious parallels to the campaigns against apartheid South Africa many years ago) for at least 10 years and it is supported by many famous and respected artists. Martha Wainwright and her people will be very well aware of it.

As a Trades Club member, I would like to hear a response from the club before I rush but I think it is incompatible with the principles of the Trades to hold the gig.

I imagine there will be concerns in relation to the financial cost and the reputation of the club as a venue and so forth - but we all have to make sacrifices in order to fight for what is right. Martha Wainwright doesn't happen to be my cup of tea but if I had bought a ticket I certainly couldn't attend.

What may be lost will be as nothing compared to the daily losses and sacrifices of the Palestinian people with whom I know the Trades and probably many potential audience members will continue to wish to stand in solidarity with.

From Ian M

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

I have to ask Christine what your views are about the recent atrocity, namely the murder of four innocent civilians whilst at prayer by Palestinian terrorists and the subsequent celebrations of these horrific murders by Hamas?

I find the timing of your tirade incredibly insensitive and insulting

From Andy C

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wait a minute Christine. The only thing you can take from the fact that Martha has played in Israel is that she doesn't agree with you that a cultural boycott is the way to go. It doesn't mean she "stands in solidarity with the oppressor". Neither should you presume that you know the motives of those attending this gig.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What does speak well for Martha Wainwright is that she hasn't deleted the many critical comments from her Facebook page. She's an unflinching professional musician trying to make a living playing relatively small venues, so she seems ideal for the Trades Club.

Given that she's already been to Israel, perfectly legally and with no obvious political motive, one has to ask what can possibly be achieved by demanding the removal of her right to work. Hope Not Hate, remember? You can't win them all. Let this one go in peace.

From Nick Shields

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What you are proposing, Christine Drake, is nothing whatever to do with a cultural boycott of Israeli exports. Nor is it, Allen Keep, a dilemma of any sort for The Trades Club or for ticket holders.

Martha Wainwright is a World renowned Canadian /American musician who has entertained countless thousands of people all over the world. She is not an Israeli export of any kind.

She is an entertainer.

The concert Christine Drake is overreacting about took place on the 6th November in a small venue in Tel Aviv with only her guitar for accompaniment. It was the first time she has performed there.

For this, Christine Drake would advocate actions, such as picketing the gig and coercing gig-goers not to attend, which would do no harm whatsoever to Martha but could damage the Trades Club's reputation both with its customers and with artists promoters, managers and agents. This would potentially impact the Trades Club's income.

This would be a wholly disproportionate reaction and would have ramifications among the Trades Club's membership and, as such, is unacceptable.

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

One of the great strengths of the Hebweb debates is people with very different views usually try not to reduce complex issues to slogans and platitudes.

Throwing emotive words like apartheid and genocide around without any context, or an understanding that people might disagree with Christine, is not in any way helpful to the Palestinian cause, or a sensible discussion of this ages old geopolitical dispute where both sides have been guilty of excesses.

I am a Trades trustee, so I should declare an interest, but I am proud of the club's long term support for the oppressed that often includes causes that get little or no help from anywhere else. The club has always been happy to offer its premises for Palestinian fundraisers, well before Christine came on the scene, and will continue to do so into the future as this senseless dispute is unlikely to end any time soon.

The club booked Martha Wainwright in good faith before they were aware she had breached the cultural boycott and have made it clear that any profits from the event will be paid directly to Medical Aid for Palestine. This is a better compromise than the ludicrous idea that those who would seek to ban Martha can take the easy way out by raising thousands of pounds to pay her off.

If local folk want a balanced, but passionate, report from the frontline of this awful spiral of violence and hate then Ron Taylor's Postcards from Palestine on this site are a sensible and moving eyewitness insight into a world of mistrust as he risks his neck for something he believes in.

From Patricia Guilfoyle

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ihave sought and been given a refund for 2 tickets which I bought for this gig. I checked tour details, a visit to work in Tel Aviv was never advertised on M.Ws website so I, like the Trades Club, feel disappointed and let down by her decision to break the cultural boycott.

I was hoping that the Trades would cancel the gig and as the artist has been paid I would have been willing to not reclaim my ticket money in support of the Trades Club who I know have offered the space for benefits for Palestin in the past, and future i hope.

However, as the Trades Club feel contractually obliged to go ahead with the gig I cannot leave my money there as it would feel wrong and I know the Trades see that people are asking for refunds for ethical reasons so they know that breaking a boycott of this nature is unethical. I am really sorry about this. I have posted and asked M W to not come to Hebden Bridge and I will now be outside the club protesting against the breaking of the cultural boycott.

I would like to point out that most Israeli settlers are unashamedly racist and the state is also unashamedly apartheid. I do not think it is inflammatory to describe Israeli occupation of Palestine as racist and apartheid. It doesn't take much research on t'internet to find examples of the pride Israelis take in making such statements.

From Martha C

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Liz Kirby, Trades Club Treasurer added, "We are under a contractual obligation to continue with the gig. However, we do not want to profit from this event. It is our goal to continue our historical and on-going support for the fight for a just settlement in Palestine. In the light of this, we intend to donate any money made from the performance to Medical Aid for Palestine."

I think it is unfair to attack the Trades given the above, especially when you are not the ones that would have to foot the bill of the (potential) expensive and time consuming litigation for breach of contract. The Trades are not supporting Martha Wainwright's decision nor profiting from her appearance. To suggest that anyone who attends the gig is somehow a supporter of "genocide, apartheid, torture and the murder of innocent civilians" is both ludicrous and quite offensive.

From Peter Lazenby

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I am also a trustee of the Trades, and a former President.

I believe the gig should be cancelled and I informed the committee of my views, as did others.

We were told there were serious financial implications if the gig was cancelled. We gave guarantees that any losses would be underwritten. There is no financial threat, so a decision had to be made on basic principles, and the committee has in my opinion made the wrong decision.

There's one other consideration: the damage to the Trades excellent reputation if it hosts this gig. It will be long-term and difficult to repair.

From Bernard B

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I guess the Trades will have to cancel the Peter Hook gigs then, or at least give away the proceeds? Similarly with the Mark Lanegan Band gig. And the Buzzcocks won't be asked back ever. Etc etc.

From Veronica Roberts

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The only damage to the Trades Club reputation,is the fact people going to a gig may be made to feel very uncomfortable,if a picket line goes ahead. Not everyone that goes to see an artist maybe aware of any political boycott.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I must say I am surprised at Paul's unease, given he is a socialist and a supporter of the Palestinian cause, in using terms like genocide and apartheid to describe the Israeli state's historical and present treatment of the Palestinian people. Emotive words they may be - but quite appropriate.

This is not a senseless conflict between two equally nasty sides who just can't sort their differences out. It is about the systematic and barbaric oppression of a people and their resistance to it and the question that begs is whose side are you on and what you are prepared to do about it. That's not a question of balance - as Desmond Tutu said if you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Now there are many things that those who support the Palestinians can do, and are doing. One of them is to support the entirely legitimate cultural boycott of Israel. Martha Wainwright has broken it. There is nothing "coercive" in trying to persuade audience members to not attend as a protest and in support of the boycott. Others may ask for their money back on ethical grounds.

Cancelling the gig would be nothing whatsoever to do with "banning" Martha Wainwright or denying her the right to work –it's about making a statement and supporting a cause –and if she is a "victim" in some way well, tough, she shouldn't have broken the boycott.

I am not sure whether raising the money to pay Martha Wainwright (which I imagine is a proposal based on collective solidarity action) can be described as "ludicrous" and this sounds unnecessarily dismissive. I'd like to hear about the proposal first. What it definitely doesn't sound like is an easy way out.

What does sound like an easy way out is to do very little except hold the gig and donate the profit to charity, albeit a Palestinian one. Now there are always pragmatic issues to contend with in any action and I do have every sympathy for the Trades but I suspect they could do a lot better than this. Perhaps a little old fashioned democracy would help for a start - why not have the Committee's and Pete's case circulated to the membership for an indicative response?

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 20 November 2014

If Martha Wainwright has broken the boycott then so too have Paul McCartney, Elton John, Paul Simon, Eric Burdon, Alicia Keyes, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Jones and the Rolling Stones. So some boycott.

Perhaps she, and they, hold the opinion that a cultural boycott is in this case a hollow gesture that simply feeds the bunker mentality of the Israeli government. It's a point of view that if honestly held deserves respect, even if one doesn't agree with it.

There is an evidence-lite rush to judgment here that is quite disturbing. Does anyone know what Martha Wainwright's actual views are on Palestine? Or on anything, for that matter? Is the fact that she apparently has a mind of her own enough to condemn her?

What stick will be used next to beat musicians? Donating to Ukip? Not paying enough tax? Privately educating their kids? Employing roadies on zero hours contracts?

Peter Lazenby is right when he says that the Trades Club's excellent reputation risks being damaged by this débacle. But I differ profoundly over what will actually cause the damage.

From David Gee

Friday, 21 November 2014

Graham Barker is right many artistes have played in Israel despite the call for a campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions from the Palestinians. This does not mean they are right to do so. There were calls for Martha Wainwright to cancel her Israeli shows before she went. She refused.

BDS is supported by many around the world including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, COSATU, ANC Youth and ironically the committee of the Trades Club. So how this gig can go on in defiance of the call from Palestinian people who are suffering under the iron heel of Israeli oppression in a socialist club when there is no financial problem is difficult to see.

From Jeremy Godden

Friday, 21 November 2014

Christine Drake says that people who go to see Martha Wainwright are supporters of genocide. Branding folk-fans as genocide supporters seems disturbingly intemperate and makes any useful discussion rather difficult.

From Bernard B

Friday, 21 November 2014

A difference between the artists Graham Barker mentions and the ones I list is that none of his artists are likely to be playing the Trades any time soon, whereas the ones I list have played or are going to play the Trades.

Given that the committee have stated publicly that they don't want to profit from the Wainwright gig because she played a small gig in Israel, will they also state publicly whether or not they will profit from the Lanegan gig given that he is "a perennial visitor" to Israel according to the Jerusalem Post, and you can catch him in Tel Aviv in March 2015.

Peter Hook also played Tel Aviv, in 2011. Is that far enough back for the Trades, or will they out of principle donate the profits from his upcoming three gigs to Medical Aid for Palestine? I haven't found anything online to indicate he regrets going there and now supports a boycott. Similarly The Buzzcocks played Israel back in 2011, and played the Trades in 2013. The takings are in the bank already, but again will the committee donate an equivalent sum to Medical Aid for Palestine?

From From Rushdi El Khatib and Ghada Alqam

Friday, 21 November 2014

As Palestinians from Gaza and Bethlehem, living in the UK, we have always been grateful to the Trades Club for all the help and support they have given us over the past years and, hopefully, will continue to do so.
We are not in agreement with any picketing of the Trades Club in the name of Palestinians.

We are a tolerant people - mistakes happen, but we learn from them and move on. The Boycott in most important for us now, but in this case we think a picket is misguided and won't serve our purpose.

From Ron Taylor

Friday, 21 November 2014

Those involved in running the Trades Club have been put in a very difficult and unenviable position over the Martha Wainwright gig. But I was very pleased to read the statement from the Club and feel that it has made the right decision.

PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), part of BDS , which I strongly support, calls on artists/performers not to perform in Israel. It is hoped that they will accede to the call because they disagree with Israel's policies towards the Palestinian people and make it clear to the Israeli public the reasons for their decision. Some respond positively, many do not.

If, as Martha Wainwright has done, performers refuse to heed the call then it is regrettable. But PACBI does not call for them to be boycotted whether they play in Hebden Bridge or anywhere else. The reason for this is that "the Palestinian boycott, unlike the South African cultural boycott, is institutional and does not target individuals as such." (from the PACBI guidelines, July 2014). To cancel the gig at the Trades Club would in fact would be contrary to PACBI's wishes and, in my view counter productive.

Like Paul Clarke (and thanks for the kind words about Postcards from Palestine, Paul) I don't find the use of emotive language very helpful and, in particular, I dislike any attempt to make those wishing to attend the gig feel guilt for doing so. However, Paul, I use the the word apartheid to describe Israel, not out of emotion, but because that is exactly what Israel has become - an apartheid state.


From Paul Clarke

Friday, 21 November 2014

Thank you Ron for once again restoring some sanity to this debate with some much needed background to the boycott.

It wasn't kind words about Postcards, just an acknowledgement that you can be angry about the plight of the Palestinians but angry at the right people.

My issue with emotive words is a lack of context which you have in spades and I respect your view on that.

If any good has come out of all this it has at least engendered a debate about a really complex issue.

Given the intervention from two Palestinians I would say the ball is now very firmly back in Christine, Pete, Dave and Allen's court. Do you heed their appeal or not?

From Christine Drake

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Here's a few more emotive words for you Paul and I'm sure from your perspective with a complete lack of context.

In my original posting I asked a question and suggested some choices. This was interpreted by some as an attempt to coerce gig goers and make people uncomfortable. I am not sure where this came from but it did'nt come from my posting. However if anyone planing to attend feels coerced or uncomfortable I suggest they look at their own motivation for attending. My motivation was to ask a question and suggest there are choices. As for one of the most recent postings in which the contributor disliked any attempts to make those wishing to attend the gig feel guilty for doing so. I'm astounded. We are talking about adults here, not children. Adults who I assume are perfectly able to gather information and act on their own conscience. If anyone does in fact feel like that it might be an idea for them to look at why.

Then there is the issue of the Trades. One that the Trades was being damaged by people taking action around this issue. In my opinion this point has been reached because of the intransigence of the Trades. I say that because more than one option has been suggested and been turned down by the club. Instead they have taken a decision to go ahead with this event. And yes there will be a picket outside the club on the 26th. Incidentally since when did organizing a picket become a disproportionate reaction. And when did the word picket become a dirty word with dire consequences. At one point while reading some of the postings I thought I had picked up the Daily Mail by mistake. Its a picket, not a revolution, unfortunately. As for damaging the Trades Club reputation they are quite capable of doing that without any help from me.

Then there was the response from Ian. My posting according to him was a tirade both insensitive and insulting. Just so you know Ian. I believe that the death of any civilians is a sad and tragic event. For them, their families and their communities. Whether they are innocently praying in their place of worship or innocent children sleeping in their beds in Gaza. I also believe a question we need to ask is why would anyone believe that committing such a desperate act is the only option they have. These cruel acts come from the cruel occupation of a land and its people. When every innocent civilian death is treated with the same reverence mayby peace can come, for both sides.

In conclusion to answer Paul Clarke's question. As far as I am concerned nothing has changed regarding the picket. I am sorry that two Palestinians don't want the picket to go ahead. However my experience in the square and organizing around it is many more Palestinians don't share that view . I will be standing in Solidarity with them. As this forum has clearly shown there are differences in all communities and cultures. We just have to accept that difference. The picket is on Wednesday hope to see you there.
Chris Drake

From Ron Taylor

Sunday, 23 November 2014

In my anxiety to clarify the situation because, a) it needs to be made clear and b) because I feel at least partly responsible for the current confusion as a couple of weeks ago I posted about Martha Wainwright performing in Israel on the Calder Valley Palestine Facebook page, I contacted an Israeli friend who is very active in the BDS movement including the Israeli group Boycott from Within. This is his response which I received today.

"Your understanding of PACBI's position is exactly so - we don't boycott international artists who chose to violate the boycott as a form of revenge or anything like that. Picketing/flyering during her show with the attempt to raise awareness, however, sounds perfectly fine though - if you think that can actually be beneficial. But we not call for the boycott of the artist though. We boycott representatives of apartheid on one hand and ask international artists to reconsider a gig under apartheid in the other."

I am not sure that in the circumstances to picket the gig would be beneficial so I will not be there on November 26th.

In response to Ian M's post I would like to say that I condemn without reservation the killings in a Jerusalem synagogue earlier this week. I also detest the fact that anyone would celebrate such an atrocity.

I also detest the fact that Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 murdered 29 Palestinians and wounded 125 more in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, is revered by far-right religious zionists and the settler movement in Israel.

His grave is a pilgrimage site and during the annual observance of the Purim holiday, settlers gather at Goldstein's grave to celebrate his deed and sing songs in praise of the man they regard as a noble martyr. One of the songs includes the verse: "Dr. Goldstein, there is none other like you in the world. Dr. Goldstein, we all love you… he aimed at terrorists' heads, squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets, and shot, and shot."

From Stella B

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Options available to the Trades Club to show their solidarity with Palestine have thus far been ignored. They have even been offered financial support to cover losses. Refusal of this offer must make us question what the real motives are of The Trades Club? They appear committed to this concert going ahead - despite protestations to the contrary.

Another option to clearly show their solidarity would be to make an announcement on stage before the gig starts. Stating: We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. We have been unable to support the cultural boycott of Israel on this occassion as Martha Wainwright would not allow us to cancel the contractual agreement for this gig.
We ask you to leave the premises now, join the protest outside and express your own support for the Palestinian struggle.

This option would give a clear message to Martha and the fans. It would allow the Trades Club to reclaim and demonstrate the clubs socialist values.

Talking about support of Palestine is not the same as action. As Desmond Tutu has stated: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." I think this says it all.

From Paula P

Sunday, 23 November 2014

This clearly is a very difficult and regettable position that the Trades Club finds itself in. Along with many others I appreciate them issuing a statement to members expressing their disappointment with Martha Wainwright's actions and promising to donate any surplus from the Martha Wainwright gig to Medical Aid for Palestine.

As a former committee member and treasurer of the Trades Club, I understand the situation they are working in. However, I would like to know two more things:

1. What is the Trades Club doing to make sure this situation never happens again?

2. Will this include promoting the Club's long-standing pro-Palestine stance more prominently and widely?

From Dave Gee

Monday, 24 November 2014

I have enjoyed reading most of the comments on this thread and expect I am not alone in learning more about the subject of Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people and the campaign of BDS from reading around this topic on the web. I have also re read the PACBI guidelines Ron refers to and note these were drawn up some years ago although have been reissued lately and are written in less than plain English and I suspect perhaps suffer from translation and even perhaps have an eye on legal guidance around US and Israeli anti boycott legislation.

We do not not individually have much control and power over events in Israel but we can collectively choose not to buy goods from there and not to have anything to do with artistes who defy the ban and play there, whilst urging our politicians to take a much harder line internationally against human rights abuses and illegality carried out by the Israeli state.

I would prefer a more simplistic approach to sanctions being taken against artistes from outside Israel performing there in the same way in which sanctions were applied under South African apartheid. As Noam Chomsky states conditions in the Israeli occupied territories are far worse than those that existed under that dreadful regime. My formulation would be if you go to perform at any state funded or supported event in Israel you are to be the subject of a boycott. However I note the legal framework is not quite the same as for Apartheid South Africa as no UN resolution calling for state sanctions will ever be passed due to the US veto at the UN, and this is why the sanctions are not as clearly stated. Also as an aside I note Israel defied the UN anti apartheid South African sanctions throughout their existence, as it today defies all UN resolutions in relation to occupied territories.

None of this however prevents the Hebden Bridge Trades Club, a small Socialist club which is run by its members for its members taking a principled stand and refusing to book artistes who have refused to heed the call for them not to go to Israel in future.

The Trades Club is not funded by either rich venture capitalist companies or US based pro Israeli Government foundations or receive state funds unlike Zappa club in Tel Aviv, to which artistes like Martha Wainwright are lured. I do not know the financial arrangement but to fly a band in from Europe mid tour and pay them for 2 gigs in fairly small venues must be quite an expensive proposition and is done primarily to attempt to portray Israel as being like any other modern western style 'normal' state.

Whilst I disagree with the stance being taken by the Trades Club in regard to this particular show up to now I do accept the committee is not in the position they would ideally choose to be in and I welcome the donation of any profits to assist in medical aid to the victims of Israeli aggression. The Trades club is run by a voluntary committee elected annually by its members it is kept going by the goodwill of the people of the area who attend its events and are members and sadly limps along financially. Taking a principled stand and affirming support for a stronger boycott in future would be amazing and in return it would be fantastic to see artistes who respect the boycott appearing at the club in solidarity with this stance, but Roger Waters ex Pink Floyd may be busy!

From Carl W

Monday, 24 November 2014

The committee of the Trades Club's own position on 'targeting' those artists that have broken the boycott of Apartheid Israel was made clear when they stated that they would never have booked M Wainwright if they had known she was intending to play in Israel.

I don't think the Trades Club committee should be criticised for deviating from the above part of the PACBI guidelines, as M Wainwright played a state funded institution, and these much publicised events were part of the on going efforts of the Apartheid Israeli state to "rebrand" itself.

'If, however, an individual is representing the state of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution, or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel's efforts to "rebrand" itself, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the BDS movement is calling for.' (from the PACBI guidelines, July 2014).

What approach institutions, councils, individuals or groups vary regarding how they see the cultural boycott as being effective and how they can contribute – "common sense" and flexibility - a venue has pretty much one significant option regarding it's show of support for the boycott, and basing their actions on the above part of the PACBI guidelines allows them to maintain their solidarity with the struggle against Apartheid.

The committee of the Trades Club should be congratulated for making the stand that they would never book an act that they were aware had played Apartheid Israel.

The Trades club committee's decision to go ahead with the M Wainwright gig has been explained in terms of the club being in a contract they could not get out of, with dire financial consequences if they did so.

With Peter Lazenby's offer 'to guarantee that any losses would be underwritten'; it leaves unexplained why the committee's stand, that it does believe in targeting individual artists that play Israel, is not being made when given the choice to do so.

From Richard Lightbown

Monday, 24 November 2014

Correction to Graham Barker's comment of 19 November. Martha Wainwright is most certainly removing comments relating to BDS and her Hebden Bridge concert. Yesterday I posted the link to this forum on her Facebook page and today she took it off and blocked me.

I hope she enters into a good dialogue on Wednesday and doesn't try to ignore people with genuine concerns.

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Trades has come in for some unnecessary stick - often from people who should know better - so I feel it only fair to remind people the club has a fundraiser in aid of Medical Aid for Palestinians on Friday 19 December.

It is a great opportunity for people to show some real solidarity as the Love Machine DJs offer their services.

I appreciate the music may not to everyone's taste - or people might have other things on - but I hope all the correspondents to this fascinating thread will come along or at least pop in the club to buy a ticket as a donation.

From Charles Blake

Monday, 24 November 2014

Wow! I've read all the posts! Hebden Trades you are awsome people and wish I lived nearer at such a pivotal moment in the Pro Palestinian advance.

The Wainwright/ McGarrigle dynasty over the decades has built a fan base of caring sensitive people so that's why it is so much more important than acts like the Stones etc who were always .....? "Rock n Roll"... Neil Young is an extremely loose canon (read his Biog) and Israel cancelled him anyway.

It seems like fame has been thrust upon you Hebden Trades and you seem to me to be extremely worthy Ambassadors..X

From Graham Barker

Monday, 24 November 2014

Martha Wainwright is coming in for unnecessary stick too, especially in the light of Bernard B's comment of last Friday about Peter Hook, Mark Lanegan and The Buzzcocks, to which the Trades Club really needs to find a response. Assuming they weren't coerced into playing in Israel, why pick on Martha Wainwright as the one act to be pilloried?

I have sympathy with the Trades Club's contractual dilemma, but detect a hint of accusing Martha Wainwright of deception for adding Israeli gigs after she was booked. She, or her agent, are perfectly entitled to do this unless they can be bound by a clause in Trades Club contracts that makes performing in Israel grounds for cancellation. In the absence of such a clause - which might in any case be considered unreasonable under competition law - the Trades Club is stuck with what it has got, should accept the situation with good grace and - as I'm sure it will - treat Martha Wainwright with the courtesy and consideration it would show to any performer and, by extension, visitor to Hebden Bridge.

I must say though I have no sympathy at all for those who still insist on demonstrating against the gig. Their determination to be implacably holier than thou and make a difficult situation even more difficult does neither them nor their cause any credit.

From Erika Delbecque

Monday, 24 November 2014

Please consider how upsetting your actions may be to the artist in question. Martha has been targeted by often very vicious comments online ever since her tour started. At a recent concert I went to it was clear that this issue is really upsetting her.

Martha's gig in Israel, though ill-timed, was most certainly not a political statement on her part. I think you are targeting the wrong person here, and that it would be better to spend your time and efforts for the Palestinian cause elsewhere.

Please re-consider your planned picketing. I don't see how it could achieve anything else but more distress for Martha and discomfort on the part of the concert goers. There are better ways to raise awareness for the Palestinian situation.

From Paul D

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Very difficult to blame the Trades here, perhaps Martha might see it as a useful opportunity to set out how it feels to sail through the customs post of a state that refuses entry or exit and collectively punishes either it's neighbours or own citizens, or enemies? Palestinians to the rest of us. How it restricts access to healthcare we take as given, disrupts power and water, allows extremists who are sometimes loathed to even call themselves 'Israelis' to put expansionist developments on land that's only 'disputed' if one ignores international law and flagrant, repeated breaches of it. Yes that's an interesting one. How does it feel to just come and go, as we do, as we like, as all that death spews onto the weak. Tourism. In a state of absolute terror.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I'd just like to say that Christine Drake does make me feel guilty. Every time I see her on the square with her placards I feel guilty that I haven't got the commitment and courage she has to put herself out there, tell the truth about Israel and to tirelessly champion the Palestinian cause.
It can't be easy - it's a tough gig - and no doubt Christine deals with the kind of hostile comments made on here quite regularly. After all, few issues stir the passions more than the Israel /Palestine issue. I really admire and respect what Chris has been doing.

I don't know Chris well at all but I suspect that if we talked at length we would probably have differing views on the way we see our common goal, the end of the oppression of the Palestinian people, coming about. But true or not, I feel the need to defend her against the friendly fire she has received from some quarters which perhaps she wasn't expecting (although I am sure she can defend herself pretty well!).

Firstly, I fail to see how Chris's descriptions of the Israeli state are out of context - unless one expects her to give an historical account of the "geopolitical dispute" (whatever that means) every time she posts and to put both sides of the argument. Why should she?

Chris nails her colours to the mast. Her accusations against Israel are far from platitudes. She correctly and bravely likens Israel to apartheid South Africa, draws attention to the genocidal nature of Israel's oppression of a people and asks that others take a stand and explains how they can.

Is Chris challenging? Yes. Did she threaten anyone? No. Did she demand the Trades reflect on its position and principles? Yes. Did she say that those who choose to attend are genocidal? No. Good for her.

Of course, being committed, forthright and passionate does not make Chris right about everything - just as simply being a Palestinian doesn't, being a socialist doesn't, or having detailed contemporary knowledge and experience doesn't. This is politics - not a game of top trumps.

In campaigning politics especially there are always, hopefully healthy, disagreements about strategy and tactics. But there is often, all too often, sectarianism too - and some comments made here by those who share Chris's goals more than smack of that or are, at the very least, simply unkind.

Above all, and I am sorry, I find the view that Chris's choice of words or her proposed actions are unhelpful to the Palestinian cause appalling. Perhaps Chris is not the only one who could be accused of shooting at the wrong target?

From Ron Taylor

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which PACBI is a part, was the result of a plea from Palestinian civil society for international support. The plea came because of the failure of governments across the world to hold Israel to account for its continuous and continuing breaches of international and humanitarian law.

From small beginnings it is now a strong campaigning group with support in a huge number of countries. It has developed and grown in difficult circumstances in the face of hostility from Israel and its supporters overseas. Israeli-supporting groups and individuals constantly monitor BDS' actions and words in efforts to taint the movement through accusations of anti-semitism and so forth. Because of this great care has to be taken over what it calls on international supporters to do.

As I wrote in my post of November 23rd in an effort to make clear what is and what is not being called for by BDS I have been in contact with Ronnie Barkan, co-founder of Boycott from Within (you can google him to see his credentials) and PACBI.

Here are some more extracts from the replies I have received.

From Ronnie Barkan, " Before performances in Israel it is very effective to picket outside of shows by that artist who's usually on tour, we try to apply pressure that way, to make that artist reconsider. After the fact it can still be done but a little less effective. In any case, we don't call to boycott /cancel events abroad of artists who ALSO perform in Israel."

From PACBI, "In general, PACBI does not call for boycotting artists who knowingly cross our BDS picket line, but we ask for holding those artists accountable for their complicity who lend their names to re-brand Israel* and whitewash its crimes.

In one case, we called on fans not to buy Leonard Cohen records, but that was an extreme, and rare, case because of Cohen's open alignment with Israeli propaganda.

Protesting the concerts of artists who violate our cultural boycott guidelines is perfectly fine . . . but it is not something PACBI has called for."

(* Brand Israel, a marketing campaign to "re-brand" the country's image to appear "relevant and modern" instead of militaristic and religious and avoiding mention of the conflict with the Palestinians.)

I am at a loss, therefore, as to why the Trades Club has been the target of so much, in my view, unjustified criticism over its decision not to accede to unreasonable demands. It has not gone against any boycott calls and has issued a perfectly reasonable statement in response for calls for it to cancel the Martha Wainwright gig.

Over the years the Club has been extremely supportive to the Palestinian and many other progressive causes. Members of the committee I have spoken to over the last couple of days are perplexed by the unreasonable pressure they have come under and feel somewhat embattled when they have made decisions which are perfectly in line with BDS/PACBI.

As I pointed out above the call for BDS comes from Palestinians. If those who called for cancellation of the gig think they know better than the Palestinians how BDS should operate then perhaps they should let BDS/PACBI know although in my experience many Palestinians are rather fed up with being told what to do by people from outside. Palestinians should lead. If we want to support them we should follow.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Goodness. Who knew that in making a small stand in a small town against a mighty and barbaric oppressor there would be so many rules?
Still, by my reading of Ron's explanation of the terms of the boycott there appears to be no Palestinian objection to the proposed picket/protest at the gig. The words I saw were "perfectly fine" and not "unhelpful".

That's good news because at least one objector here pointed out that many people don't even know there is a boycott. While that's a very odd reason for not having one -many more people now will know about it, some may be encouraged to protest themselves by not crossing the door - and all of them will have had the just claims of the Palestinian cause presented to them which can't be a bad thing can it? Good luck Chris.

As for the Trades and the gig that ship has sailed and the Palestinian contributors here have a point - it's time to learn from mistakes and move on. I agree with Dave Gee here - the Trades should take this opportunity to formulate a more robust policy on acts who have broken the Boycott. My own view as a member is that no act who is known to have broken the boycott should be invited to cross the door of a socialist club and that stand should be public.

At the very least, it would ensure that we don't get into this mess again - which has been difficult for all of us who support the Palestinian cause and has served to disunite us. It's never a good place to be.

That's just my view. I don't doubt there will be others, but I hope the Trades will take this issue to its members, at least as a consultation exercise, and come back with something a lot better.

From Dai Hallgarth

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Erika, I am sure that Martha would have been fully aware of the stand she was effectively taking. Israel's attempts to stop and limit Palestinian cultural pursuits are well documented. Israel deliberately prevents Palestinian artists, including children, from performing abroad. They pull down Palestinian cultural centres, prevent attempts to hold Palestinian cultural events in schools and universities, have blocked attempts by Palestine to hold cultural welcome events at Ben Gurion airport etc etc. In other words, Israel deliberately stops the spread of Palestinian art, music, theatre, film and dance in an effort to stop Palestinian culture thriving.

So, Israel must expect the international community to boycott their cultural events. Those breaking this boycott, such as Martha Wainwright, must expect to be boycotted also, as they reinforce Israel's apartheid cultural policy. It doesn't matter that she is a nice person and a talented performer - she was prepared to ignore gross injustice in order to promote herself. She would have been warned and she ignored the warnings, so she has to accept the repercussions.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

When is a boycott not a boycott? I'm not asking this to be awkward but I can't find any reference to the UK Musicians Union sanctioning a boycott of Israel. I found a 2010 reference to a 2006 MU decision NOT to sanction a boycott. I'm not a musician so can't access much of the MU website but it does seem to me that there is in fact no cultural boycott for Martha Wainwright or anyone else to break. Have I missed something?

Obviously some organisations and individuals think there should be a boycott, and if the Trades Club wants to impose its own that's fine - as long as it's applied consistently and made explicit in contracts. But as far as I can see the evidence is not there to support the view that artists performing in Israel are breaking an 'official' boycott comparable to the boycott of apartheid South Africa. I repeat, I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong.

From Kez Armitage

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

So what happened on Wednesday?

From Frances Minto

Friday, 5 December 2014

I went to the Martha Wainwright gig and I wasn't aware of the controversy around her playing. I had prepaid for the ticket and don't go out much but felt I couldn't ignore the issue. For too long the Israeli government have ghettoised, persecuted and killed their own peoples. So I sat down thought about it and left, making my own small stand. It felt it was the right decision for me but I would understand someone who did attended that gig.

I don't think less of the Trades, who acted with thought and care. I looked up Martha Wainwright's website and she decided to ignore it completely, so I do think less of her.

Terrible actions are being perpetrated by both sides and both sides have suffered terribly but they need to somehow change and learn to live in peace.

The thought that bad things happen when good people do nothing came to mind.

From Vivienne Crawford

Monday, 29 December 2014

I've read the comments here with interest, & I'm glad that as a community, we are eloquent and engaged. Everyone, I think, is trying to do the right thing. But what is that? Here's my tuppence-worth.

Christine Drake accuses Israel of genocide. Let's look at this. The German genocide of the Jews resulted in such a degree of extermination that even now, there are fewer than 15 million Jews worldwide, of whom roughly 6 million live in Israel, an enclave the size of North Yorkshire. The Palestinian population, the subject of Israeli oppression sustained over 70 years, has in that period increased 8-fold. It has increased by 30% just in the last 10 years. If this is an attempt at genocide, it's spectacularly inept, wouldn't you say?

As to apartheid, there are some 2 million Arabs living within Israel (who incidentally, have made it clear that they have no wish to become part of a future Palestinian state). Some Arabs, Muslim & Christian, are Members of the Knesset and judiciary, & the Israeli representative in California until recently was a Bedouin Muslim. The Israelis seem to have not quite grasped the point of apartheid, either.

Ms Drake justifies the murder of the synagogue Jews by saying that desperate people are driven to do cruel things. 6 million Jews surrounded by some 384 million intransigently hostile Arabs often feel their backs are to the wall, too, but apparently their plight attracts no sympathy because they have refused, this time, to be victims complicit in their own final elimination.

Nothing that I have said implies that the Israelis do not build illicit settlements, or have not killed, over the years, thousands of Palestinians. Nor would I wish to argue that the Palestinians are not significantly harmed by Israel. All these things are true. But I want to make the point that Israeli actions should be seen in context. This is not a conflict of good versus evil, but of two valid claims. Its solution will necessarily be nuanced.

If we ban from public life those people who have gone to Israel to see it for themselves, we close down all possibility of intelligent discussion. Political action is reduced to loud expressions of prejudice. Much better, I think, to listen to Martha Wainwright's songs, then ask her if she'd mind discussing her visit, & what she noticed there. There is a distressingly totalitarian tendency emerging on the Left, which seeks to stifle free speech & the interchange of ideas. The effect has been that while thousands of well-intentioned people take to the streets to condemn Israel, there has been virtually no visible support for the Rojava Kurds, whose bold & hopeful constitution promotes cooperative government & gender equality, & the NUS failed to denounce Da'esh as it raped & slaughtered its way across the Sykes-Picot line, in case it might be Islamophobic to object to the odd bit of decapitation & enslavement -& the very real genocide of the Yezidis. This is political incoherence, at the very least. And we will not improve matters by shouting at musicians.


From Gideon Foster

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Vivienne Crawford , I do not want to add anything to your post , just to say i wholeheartedly agree with you , no doubt you will be shot down in flames for publicly airing a view which is not fashionable at all!

Perhaps your post could be linked to another one on here being "Wish list for 2015", my wish is that people would be willing to consider both sides to every story not just the one they, or the media, want them to see!
In the meantime I wish everyone every peace and happiness for 2015!

Would contributors please try to follow the forum guidelines. And to help develop the discussion by not attacking other contributors personally. Thanks. Ed

See also:

HebWeb News: The Martha Wainwright Visit