Festival ban lacks a sense of poetic justice

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What a contrast. Scotland welcomed the Commonwealth with a feast of sport that truly deserved the accolade of “the friendly Games”. It was especially good to see spectators with a Saltire in one hand and a Cross of St George in the other; a nice change from the increasingly divisive independence debate. Well done Glasgow and Scotland.

Meanwhile, our Makar, Liz Lochhead, was helping to organise a cultural boycott of a non-political performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, another great international event, purely because the theatre company had received funding from the government of Israel (your report, 1 August).

I deplore what is happening in Gaza – I deplore the bombardment by Israel and the Hamas rockets, both of which appear to target civilians. I also deplore many of the things countries in the Commonwealth do – treating women as second-class citizens, female genital mutilation, long prison sentences and even the death penalty for LGTB individuals – but there was no suggestion of boycotting teams or events at the Games, thank goodness.

The Makar is entitled to a personal view, but she is the poet for all of us and it is a slippery slope when one of the cultural leaders of a nation begins to support boycotts. That is the road to book burning and then worse as the history of the 20th century demonstrated all too clearly. 

The baying mob has been with us for centuries and, indeed, was part and parcel of early 19th century politics, but surely modern Scotland is beyond that? We saw Ukip leader Nigel Farage, with whom I disagree completely, treated to mob tactics and now it is actors. Does the national poet really want to encourage the baying mob? What happens if somebody disagrees with her beliefs? I am sorry Ms Lochhead, the day you supported the boycott you ceased to be our national poet and lost the deep respect I had for your work.

Dr Roger I 
Cartwright

Turretbank Place
Crieff, Perthshire

protesters at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe succeeded in shutting down an abomination. The City, a show scheduled to run throughout the festival, was being performed by actors so vile, so abhorrent, and so antithetical to our progressive society that they can only be called one thing: Israeli people.

Israeli people had the audacity to try and put on a show right here, in the cultural centre of Scotland. Thankfully, a brave mob of angry radicals would not stand for this intrusion of foreign art on our soil. Or, at the very least, not from Israeli people. Iranian people, fine. Russian people, tolerable. But not falafel-loving fiends.

And it ought not to stop there. I hear there are young Israeli people attending university with our children. These students, who may receive scholarships from the Israeli government, are obviously spies and propagandists for the Zionist new world order. The fact that the University of Edinburgh has not expelled them demonstrates a pathetic lack of commitment to helping the Palestinians.

We should have no patience for cultural minister Fiona Hyslop insisting that we need to be tolerant of cultural diversity and freedom of expression. The only freedom we need is the freedom to harass, intimidate and shut down anyone of the wrong nationality.

The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. It would be a terrible place to embarrass Scotland and permit Israeli artists to be treated like human beings.

BRIAN PILCHIK

Hermit’s Croft

Edinburgh