On 22 October, the Guardian featured a letter by a group of UK artists, writers, and scholars condemning the cultural boycott of Israel. “Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory, and will not further peace,” signatories stated, arguing that cultural engagement was the only way to build a “positive movement for change.” The letter sparked a major controversy, in light of the presence of J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, among its signatories. Many of Rowling’s fans, who found her position misguided, voiced their concerns on social media. In response, Rowling posted a series of letters on Twitlonger.
Five days later, the Guardian published a full-page advertisement submitted by 343 academics from dozens of British universities as a rebuttal. Signatories committed to the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, vowing not to accept invitations to visit or participate in conferences at Israeli academic institutions. The advertisement drew much criticism from the Israeli and British governments. Israel condemned the signatories for endorsing boycott at a time of ongoing violence, with the Israeli embassy in London stating, “Those who call for a boycott against Israel during a month which saw 45 stabbing attacks—in which more than 100 Israelis were wounded, and 10 were murdered—blatantly ignore the lives of Israelis, and the conditions necessary for peace.”
The full advertisement is presented in figure 1, and is available along with the initial letter at www.theguardian.com.