Open Letter to John Lydon/Johnny Rotten: Don’t Play Along With Apartheid

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Press Release

17 Aug 2010

Don”t Play Along With Apartheid Israel

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Dear John,

Although you were born in Ireland, you may not be aware that on 12th August the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) launched its “boycott pledge” campaign, whereby over 140 (now over 160 and counting) Irish artists undertook “not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

Proportionally, the largest number of these artists are musicians: musicians of all kinds ranging from classical composers to sean nós dancers to death metallers to – yes – punk rockers, but all described without discrimination as musicians. I’m proud to be one myself.

Some of these artists are starting out on their careers, and may be taking a risk in signing such a pledge: the reach of the Zionist lobby in the USA is long, and who doesn’t want to be big in the States? Others are already household names, and can and do whistle at the risk.

Few of these artists waste time proclaiming their rebelliousness or their anarchism: they are natural-born rebels with historical awareness and a social conscience, and are prepared to put their reputations on the line to demonstrate it.

In calling for a boycott, they are contradicting the policy of the Irish government and of the European Union which is “not to support boycotts or sanctions of Israel at this time”. Instead, these governments ignore Israel’s crimes, offer it substantial trading privileges, and treat it like a European country and a model democracy – thus in reality demonstrating their complicity with an Apartheid state engaged in a pitiless process of colonial expansion and dispossession and slow genocide of the indigenous Palestinian people.

You, on the other hand, who explicitly claim to be “anti-government”, apparently agree with the EU governments on this, because you plan to break the cultural boycott of Israel by performing in Tel Aviv on 31st August. You are also willing to play by the rules of the criminal Israeli government which, through its spokesman Nissim Ben-Sheetrit in 2005, stated that “We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.”

John, do you really wish to be “a propaganda tool” for such a foul regime? Because, believe me, the Israeli state doesn’t need to hi-jack your music or your words (just in case you do “protest” while you’re there, as you’ve promised) – the very fact of your presence will be hi-jacked to prove how “normal” that abnormal state is.

But it’s not too late: you can still cancel your trip to Israel, and join the ranks of those honourable artists who refuse to play along with Apartheid. The IPSC Cultural Boycott Pledge is still open and you would be most welcome to sign it at we’ll be waiting for you with open arms!


Raymond Deane
Composer & IPSC Cultural Boycott Officer


A disclaimer applies to this page. This page is not part of the official UCC website. This page is temporarily hosted by members of the UCC Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which comprises a group of students and staff in the university.

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