British Writers In Support of Palestine


BWISP exists to support the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and to promote Palestinian literature and literary events. BWISP members pledge not to attend state-sponsored literary events in Israel, including university conferences.

This blog is a public record of BWISP activities, and a means of attracting new members.  It is not a forum for debate about the boycott; such forums abound all over the internet.  Genuine questions will be responded to, but hostile comments will not be posted.  FAQs will be answered in future posts or pages. NB: this blog also covers other aspects of the boycott campaign; the views expressed in any individual post are those of the named author only.

BWISP members agree to add their names to the below letter of support for the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, as defined by the PACBI guidelines. Their names will be placed on a private mailing list, and they will be free to join specific letter writing campaigns as and when such are deemed necessary (for example, the Ian McEwan campaign). Inquiries about joining BWISP may be directed to Naomi Foyle at

Thank you for respecting this space.

Following is the original manifesto in support of the boycott, which all British writers (citizens or residents) are welcome to sign:

The murder of humanitarian aid workers aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters is the latest tragic example of Israel’s relentless attacks on human rights.  But while violently preventing the free passage of medical, building and school supplies to Gaza, Israel continues to pride itself as a highly cultured, highly educated state. In solidarity with Palestinian civil society and its call for a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, we the undersigned therefore appeal to British writers and scholars to boycott all literary, cultural and academic visits to Israel that are sponsored by the Israeli government, including those organised by Israeli cultural foundations and universities.  (This boycott does not include courageous independent Israeli organisations who openly oppose the occupation.)  We also ask that writers, poets and British funding bodies actively support Palestinian literary events, such as the Palestinian Literary Festival and the Palestinian Writing Workshop.

Materially and ideologically, state-sponsored Israeli academic and cultural events both prop up and mask the on-going brutal occupation of Palestine.  Israeli universities are key players in the creation and dissemination of government policy, and while some Israeli cultural foundations may promote ‘dialogue’ between the two peoples, there can be no true dialogue when one party is a military superpower and the other a nation of second-class citizens, refugees and virtual prisoners.  Appearing as an international guest at all such Israeli cultural and academic events helps to divert attention from, and normalize, Israeli war crimes in Gaza; the annexation of East Jerusalem; and the on-going illegal settlement of the West Bank.  Such appearances will also help to normalise Israel’s recent abhorrent military actions at sea.

More information on the cultural and academic boycott of Israel may be found at and  But in brief, we the undersigned do not wish to lend our presence or approval to cultural or academic events underwritten by the State of Israel, nor do we wish to help sustain the deliberately fostered illusion of moral and military parity between the two actors in this conflict.  Rather as Britons and British residents, we believe that we have a historical and moral obligation to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in their struggle for long-denied peace, justice and self-determination.

Yours truly,

BWISP (British Writers In Support of Palestine)

Prof Mona Baker (scholar)

John Berger (novelist, art critic, essayist, poet, Booker Prize winner) [RIP]

Bidisha (journalist, novelist)

Lauren Booth (writer and journalist)

Prof Marilyn Booth (scholar, literary translator)

Kevin Cadwallender (poet)

Jimmy Powdrell Campbell (writer)

John Chalcraft (scholar)

Selma Dabbagh (novelist)

Leena Dhingra (novelist)

Jenny Diski (novelist, essayist, travel writer) [RIP]

Helen Dixon (poetry, fiction and scriptwriter)

Dr Hugh Dunkerley (poet and scholar)

Lucy Durneen (short story writer and lecturer)

Prof Rasheed El-Enany (scholar)

Prof Hoda Elsadda (scholar)

Alison Fell (novelist, poet)

Naomi Foyle (poet, novelist and BWISP co-ordinator)

Prof Patrick Ffrench (scholar, writer)

Maureen Freely (novelist, translator, academic)

Donald Gardner (poet, translator)

Prof Ian Gregson (poet, literary critic)

Prof Peter Hallward (scholar)

Rumy Hasan (scholar)

Mischa Hiller (novelist)

Aamer Hussein (writer)

Sarah Irving (writer)

Ewa Jasiewicz (writer and journalist)

Fred Johnstone (poet, novelist and translator)

Rachel J Fenton (writer)

Dr Ghada Karmi (writer and scholar)

Judith Kazantzis (poet, novelist and BWISP co-ordinator)

Mimi Khalvati (poet)

Eleanor Kilroy (journalist)

Wendy Klein (poet)

Stephen Knight (poet and critic)

Steve Komarnyckyj (poet and translator)

Zoë Lambert (writer and scholar)

Diane Langford (novelist)

Tom Leonard (poet and critic)

Dr Les Levidow (scholar)

Alistair Ligertwood (scholar and translator)

Catherine Lupton (writer)

Adnan Mahmutovic (writer and academic)

Lauro Martines (writer, socio-political and historical scholar)

Mike Marqusee (writer) [RIP]

Prof Nur Masalha (scholar)

China Miéville (novelist)

James Miller (novelist)

Steve Moran (writer)

Richard Morris (playwright)

Alan Morrison (poet and editor)

Dr Dalia Mostafa (scholar)

Ali Nasralla (scholar)

Sybil Oldfield (academic, scholar, feminist historian/biographer)

Julia O’Faolain (novelist)

Jeremy Page (poet, editor, critic)

Thomas Pakenham (historian)

Dr Ian Patterson (poet and scholar)

Prof Jonathan Rosenhead (scholar)

Dr Khadiga Safwat (writer and scholar) [RIP]

Prof Myriam Salama-Carr (scholar, translator)

Dr Duncan Salkeld (literary scholar)

Seni Seneviratne (poet)

Kamila Shamsie (novelist)

John Siddique (poet and writer)

Andy Simons (writer)

Mark Slater (scholar, critic and writer)

Catherine Smith (poet and writer)

Dr Derek Summerfield (writer, scholar)

David Swann (poet and writer)

Tom Vowler (writer)

Kate Webb (writer, critic)

Irving Weinman (novelist and BWISP co-founder) [RIP]

Min Wild (academic writer)

Joel Willans (writer)

Jackie Wills (poet)

Hilary Wise (scholar and writer)

Eliza Wyatt (playwright)

Evie Wyld (novelist)

Robin Yassin-Kassab (novelist)

(+ 2 anonymous for political reasons)


1 Comment

  1. […] to BWISP, British Writers in Support of Palestine. There’s plenty more about the organisation on its own website, but in short it’s a list of signatories to a statement in support of Palestinian rights, and […]

    Pingback by Signing up to BWISP « Sarah Irving — February 1, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

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