My name is Abdelfattah Abusrour. I am director of Alrowwad cultural and theatre training society, which I founded with a group of friends in 1998 in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine, where I was born, to create a safe space of beautiful expression, a philosophy that I call beautiful resistance against the ugliness of occupation and its violence… and to help our children and youth to see their potential as change makers, without needing to carry a gun and shoot everybody else…
In May 2002, Alrowwad theatre centre was vandalised by the Israeli army. They broke our video cameras and computers, and emptied oil and acrylic painting tubes all over the space. During our tours in the West Bank, many checkpoints forbid us passage with our theatre or dance shows and our play bus. We wait for hours, sometimes without being allowed to pass south to Hebron or to the north. No access is granted to Gaza, to East Jerusalem or 1948 Palestine.
Theatre and arts are about giving a voice to those who are not heard, and defending what we believe is just and right… That is why for me as an artist, as a theatre practitioner, I boycott every relation with Israeli artists or academics or politicians… This is not directed against Jews… This boycott is directed against an apartheid system of occupation and discrimination, and all those who are part of it and do not do any action against it. An injustice is an injustice, and an occupation is an occupation, and those who support it, or treat it as normal, are complicit with it.
Abdelfattah Abusrour, director of Alrowwad, Aida refugee camp
Why boycotting Israel culturally is an important aspect for us:
Because culture is the vessel that caries our beliefs, thoughts and actions
Thus choosing to support our freedom will enhance a just peace
Because you will help us in our non-violent struggle to obtain our rights
When you choose to stand for justice you motivate our choice for life and living
Because you will stimulate the trust in our hearts over the hatred that the Israeli occupation is systematically trying to implant in our minds due to its actions
Because we refuse the fact that we are made a begging country and a file on every donor’s table, we want your support to obtain our sovereignty with your political support.
And because Israel will not submit to the international laws if the international community does not pressure it to do so.
Thus the artistic community in Palestine is pledging you to stand with justice until justice prevails
Your voice counts, you can make a difference and you could participate in the transformation of our life.
Iman Aoun, artistic director of ASHTAR Theatre, Jerusalem – Palestine
Both statements were sent to members of Artists for Palestine UK in advance of the pledge launch.