When I was in school my favorite subjects were history and languages. In a way they go hand in hand really don’t they? Languages are very much influenced by what is happening in the world around them.
I went to a fairly academic school, and although I did well in my Leaving Certificate, if I’m honest all I really cared about was getting an A1 in history. Points mattered but I didn’t really care. The history exam was such a gruelling exam at the time- 5 essays in 3 hours (although one you could learn off as a project in advance).
I remember so well coming out of the exam, distraught, probably exhausted after sitting Honours Maths 2 in the morning (if memory serves me right). The first person I met was my history teacher (who at that time was God to me), and I told him I thought I had only got a B1, and cried my eyes out at home much to the bemusement of my parents. All this drama for a subject that I was way better at than honours maths (which didn’t worry me at all).
Thankfully I got the A1 in history and the honour in the Maths. The history result was helped in part by the project I learnt off by heart which was about the Jews in Ireland between 1880-1910. A suggestion from my Dad who had a keen interest in history and Middle East literature and politics (in particular Israeli and Jewish literature).
It is strange that I subsequently visited the Middle East in my thirties (not Israel though), just Jordan and Syria, and I am now assisting with Palfest Ireland’s Alternative Eurovision – Palestine – You’re a Vision on May 18th. The event features a host of Irish stars including Frances Black, Katie Laffan, Christy Moore, Sky Atlas, Kila, Mary Coughlan and many many more.
One of my favorite stories in history was the story of Captain Boycott. I just absolutely love that us Irish took a period in history and in so doing an oppressor’s name became a word that is used worldwide.
In 1880, as part of Charles Stewart Parnell and the Land League’s campaign for the Three Fs (fair rent, fixity of tenure, and free sale) and opposition to evictions which were numerous and heartbreaking, action was taken against money grabbing landlords.
Captain Boycott was a Mayo Landlord who set about evicting several tenants, often times in a bloody and cruel way. The Mayo branch of the Irish Land League urged Boycott’s employees to withdraw their labor and began a campaign of isolation against Boycott in the local community.
This campaign included shops in Mayo refusing to serve him, and the withdrawal of services. Boycott found himself a marked man, not fearing violence but even worse the scorn, silence, and disdain of simply everyone he encountered.
It worked. He retreated to Suffolk in disgrace and his name became a verb and a term used when wanting to bring down oppressive regimes.
And so this brings me to the boycotting of Eurovision 2019, being held in Israel this year. Should we ‘boycott’ the event or should we keep art separate from politics?
I have to say given my own love of Irish history, and what we achieved as Irish people in the stance we have always taken against oppression, I believe the right thing to do is to BOYCOTT this event. What is happening to Palestinians is an abuse of their fundamental human rights. The perpetrator of this abuse is Israel.
It is apartheid and I personally am standing with the artists who wish to stand with the Palestinians in solidarity . On May 18th I will be at a concert celebrating Palestine and I will be boycotting the Eurovision (which will be held in Tel Aviv )
The concert is SOLD OUT but will be live streamed. So if you too want to #BoycottEurovision2019, turn off the TV and live stream ‘Palestine – You’re a Vision’ coming from the National Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.