Scots campaigning for Palestinian rights have responded to hypocriticalcomments by Fergus Linehan, the new director of the Edinburgh International Festival, and his predecessor Jonathan Mills. Last week Linehan and Mills spoke out against Palestine solidarity actions over recent years that have disrupted and closed down Israel-state endorsed events during Edinburghs Festival, when they were participating in the panel discussion at the Walking the Tightrope production at Underbelly.

Albie O'Neill, secretary of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign who will be taking part in the Walking the Tightropepanel discussion on Tuesday with the Israeli Embassy cultural attaché Dan Golan, said "If we were all to follow the pompous and self-righteous advice of Linehan and Mills, I am sure that apartheid in South Africa would still be standing and women in Scotland would still be denied the vote.

"If Linehan and Mills are not interested in the well documented war crimes, torture and human rights abuses carried out by Israel, I doubt they have much time to consider how Israel denies freedom of expression to Palestinians. Fortunately, millions of decent people around the world care enough to hold Israel to account.” 

ONeill continues: Countless performers have been arrested without charge, performances prohibited, and theatres attacked with tanks.

"The Palestine Literary Festival in 2009 was closed down and participants, including Michael Palin, were driven out. The 19th Annual Palestinian Children's Festival in East Jerusalem was prohibited due to the fact that it received funding from the Palestinian Authority.

"In 2012 members of the Ramallah Orchestra were denied entry permits to perform in East Jerusalem.

"In June of this year Israeli cultural workers signed a petition condemning the government for moves, described as anti-freedom of expression, that will deny funding to artists and theatre companies if they do not support the government line.

"Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev threatened to cut funding to the Jaffa based Elmina Theater group because their manager refused to perform in an illegal settlement in the West Bank.

"This is in stark contrast to Israeli government support for artists and performers who are funded to attend events like the Edinburgh festivals, on condition they sign contracts which make clear they must act as ambassadors and not criticise Israel.  Crucially, they must not reveal the conditions of their contract.

"Arye Mekel of the the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in 2009, 'We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits. This way you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.'

"The cultural boycott of Israel has been called for by Palestinian cultural workers as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which was launched in 2005. The Israeli government is aware that the demand from across the world for them to end their brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people is growing, and like the pressure on the South African apartheid regime it will ultimately prove irresistible."

"The former ambassador to the UK has been recalled to head up a new anti-BDS department which has been allocated a multi-million pound budget."

"No amount of whitewashing by Dan Golan, or by Linehan and Mills for that matter, will fool the people of Edinburgh. They call for the right of freedom of expression but their actions serve to defend a brutal apartheid regime that denies that same freedom and the right to life to the Palestinian people."



1. Contact

Albie O'Neill 0772 547 0071

Secretary, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

2. Details of event

Albie O'Neill will be taking part in the panel discussion at Walking the Tightrope, The Tension Between Art and Politics on Tuesday 25 August at 3.35pm at Topside. (Potterrow is the location of Topside, a stunning studio theatre presenting the very best in fringe theatre, comedy and cabaret, located behind the studio theatre on Potterrow.

Studio at the Festival Theatre, Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BL)

3. Information sources

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 cancellation of shows

Attacks on Palestinian cultural workers rights

Israeli Culture Minister attacks artists

Statement by Palestinian performing art organisations

Putting out a contract on art


0 #2 philip b greenhorn 2016-08-16 20:52
Zionism is the real enemy of the Jewish people.
The Zionist states policy of moving settlers onto Palestinian land is what all Colonial powers have been doing for centuries in the hope that they will prevent the original owners from ever returning.
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+1 #1 Dr Colin Cooper 2015-08-26 16:20
I was in Gaza last month.I invite the past and present directors of the Edinburgh International Festival to accompany me next time I go to Gaza. I challenge them both to explain their views to the 10 year old child I met standing in rubble and twisted metal that had been his home and where 30 members of his family died.
In the Scotsman newspaper last week they cited the example of the first ever Edinburgh international festival in 1947 when the Vienna symphony orchestra was invited. This orchestra had 60 players who had been members of the Nazi party. The directors no doubt mention this as an example of art helping to heal the wounds of a war torn Europe. Of course, I completely agree but they have over looked the obvious fact that the war was over. Do they think that the audience would have welcomed this cultural gesture if Clydebank was still being bombed. Johnathan Mills in that newspaper article calls me and others that share my views "Thugs".Sir,try looking in the mirror!
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