I was shocked by the letter signed by a number of writers attacking Jonathan Mills for inviting Israel's Batsheva Dance Company to the Edinburgh International Festival (August 29).

How can they denounce other artists without even seeing their work? Do they know what they are trying to communicate?

Between them these writers have taken a good amount of money from the British state in the form of grants and so on. Does that make them responsible for the invasion of Iraq? We have artists from China and Russian state companies who are not held responsible for government actions.

Perhaps they just don't "get" the EIF. I have spent the last year researching a book (Confusion to our Enemies: Selected Journalism of Arnold Kemp (1939 to 2002)) and in the course of that I researched my grandfather Robert Kemp's work – he was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Festival and coined the term the Fringe.

It was started in the aftermath of the Second World War, to bring back the joy, colour and vibrancy of cultural expression into people's lives which had been, for many, grey and miserable. It was started so that people from different countries could communicate heart to heart in the international language of art and culture.

Sometimes I fear this noble purpose is slightly obscured by the corporate-branded festival that much of the Fringe has become.

But there are still real and brave attempts to use art to break down barriers and to glimpse the world from other people's perspectives. Batsheva Dance Company's's performances offer us an opportunity we should grasp.

It would be a tragedy if people like these writers who live, not in the shadow of war but in relative ease and comfort, manage to achieve their wish and create a cultural climate in Scotland where it is impossible for Israeli artists to come here to perform.

Jackie Kemp,

Leith Links,


In calling for the Edinburgh International Festival to withdraw its invitation to Batsheva Dance Company, several of my fellow Scots have revealed a distasteful side to their nature.

Their demand is not based on any act the dancers have committed or failed to commit, nor on views they have expressed or values they might hold. The fact that the company is Israeli seems, for the writers, to be sufficient justification.

I may have missed it, but where was their joint letter demanding a ban on US cultural visits after that country's illegal and destructive invasion of Iraq?

Several Russian theatre companies were performing on the Fringe this August, where were the voices calling for an embargo in protest at President Vladimir Putin's increasing erosion of Russian freedoms?

China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and a host of other nations with appalling human rights records sent athletes to the London Olympic Games, yet I don't recall writers insisting their invitations be withdrawn.

David Clark,

53/14 Viewcraig Gardens,


Is it really just me who thinks it absurd to use collective punishment against the members of an Israeli dance group? People are well aware of some of the nasty policies of various Israeli governments, but it is ridiculous to say that all Israelis, or others associated with this dance group, should be punished.

Desmond Tutu has refused to share a stage with Tony Blair, due to the perception that the former Prime Minister was disingenuous about the Iraq War. However, nowhere has it been reported that Mr Tutu is going to boycott the UK.

Collective punishments have been used by communists, fascists and all flavours in between. I cannot think of a good example where these methods have worked in the long term. It is a type of punishment that does not fit any crime. Sadly, there seems to be no end to the types of humans who believe it is a justifiable method of retribution when it suits their aims.

Dr Ronnie Gallagher,

5 Wyndhead Steading,