The ICA [is] employing a soi-disant diplomat and negotiator, Alastair Crooke, in fact a man whom most of us would call the Islamists’ “useful idiot”, to break the laws of the land and have a discussion with a known terrorist, as one cannot be a high-ranking member of Hamas without being a terrorist. This could be of some value if instead of the discussion there would be a debate. If either serious opponents of victims of terrorism, specifically of Hamas terrorism, had been scheduled to take part; if any of the myriad writers who have analyzed Islam and Islamism were to be on the platform; if, indeed, a representative of Fatah, an organization that Mr Crooke cannot disdain completely, were allowed to take part in the interview, then there could be some value to this event.
The ICA and Mr Crooke are not, however, interested in a discussion of terrorism, its causes and effects and alternative political activity. Their intention is, presumably two-fold. In the first place, misunderstanding the sayings of people like Baudelaire, they are out to épater la bourgeoisie, to shock the complacent middle classes or the establishment or whatever. This ignores the fact that, as far as the arts in this country are concerned (and, indeed, as far as many other institutions are concerned) the establishment is not the bourgeoisie but those juvenile left-wingers who use state hand-outs, which is not something the likes of Baudelaire would have approved of, to scream at the top of their voices of their own moral superiority because they undermine political and ethical decencies.
The second intention is considerably more straight-forward: Mr Crooke’s aim for whatever motives, is to make terrorists and mass murderers acceptable, their followers objects of compassion and to present the one democratic state of the Middle East, Israel, as an oppressive ogre. No other point of view is to be allowed in his universe. Using those state hand-outs the ICA supports him in this less than laudable endeavour. Perhaps, they can no longer find enough contemporary art they can actually approve of.
The ICA should be held to account for this misjudgement by its patrons and members.