Roger Waters, Ken Loach, Caryl Churchill and Thurston Moore are among many leading artists calling for London’s celebrated Roundhouse to cancel its involvement with a festival designed to promote Israel as a progressive and liberal destination with a ‘glittering’ capital city.
TLV in LDN is supposedly a celebration of culture, but its director Marc Worth has revealed in an interview that the festival is the dream child of Israel’s diplomatic mission in the UK, and was conceived in response to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). BDS seeks to highlight Israel’s systemic violation of Palestinian human, civil and political rights.
Grassroots campaign LDN against Apartheid is calling for the capital’s cultural venues to shun the Israeli Embassy’s branding effort. Artists for Palestine UK echoes this call. We have spoken to a number of London artists who been appalled by news of the Roundhouse’s close association with an event designed to promote a repressive military regime. Many of the artists we spoke to have previous artistic connections to the Roundhouse. Their comments are published below.
Finally, Artists for Palestine UK notes that the TLV in LDN website describes Tel Aviv as ‘the jewel of the Med’. We’d like to point out that this is the old name for Jaffa, the ancient Palestinian city that Tel Aviv supplanted and whose history it continues to erase. Those impressed by the supposed glitter of Tel Aviv should be aware of the historic and continuing dispossession of Palestinians which haunts this festival and others like it.
Statements by artists
‘Back in the day, Pink Floyd performed on the night the Roundhouse opened in 1966, the launch of IT (International Times). This week, more than half a century later, that iconic space, so identified with freedom of expression and resistance to authoritarianism will be handed over for use by the State of Israel, a state that crushes artists through military occupation. It is unconscionable that a state that has held millions of people under siege for over a decade in Gaza, and operates apartheid throughout historic Palestine, should be allowed to use the Roundhouse as part of its propaganda effort to normalize its crimes against humanity. Resist!’
Roger Waters, musician
‘I was honoured to play at the Roundhouse ten years ago with my band Sonic Youth and earlier this year with my London based group, it’s a legendary venue that has long had a crucial role in the radical cultural heritage of London. With this impending decision for the Roundhouse to present TLV in LDN, which supports a decidedly political anti-Palestinian human rights agenda, I am curious, would the current directors have also granted the apartheid regime in South Africa their venue to whitewash egregious human rights violations in this blatant way?’
Thurston Moore, musician
‘The Roundhouse and the public should realise that TLV in London is a political event not just a “cultural” one. The Israeli government works hard to improve its image abroad and promotes arts events in an attempt to distract attention from its illegal settlements and extraordinary repression of Palestinians. The Roundhouse should consider if it wants to support this, and if the event does go ahead people should buy tickets only if they are happy to buy into Israel’s brutal policies.’
Caryl Churchill, playwright
‘The Tel Aviv festival is being staged on behalf of a government that holds millions of Palestinians under military occupation and siege and denies basic human rights to millions more. Its organisers say we should “indulge our senses and discover the delights of this jewel of the Med.” The directors of the Roundhouse should feel ashamed that they have allowed themselves to become part of the propaganda machine for this monstrous apartheid regime.’
Alexei Sayle, writer, comedian (and Camden resident)
‘War crime apologist Regev [Ambassador Mark Regev, former government spokesperson] wants us to turn our eyes and actions away from the ‘bad stuff’ about Israel. By this he means their brutal Occupation and desire to eliminate entirely the Palestinian ‘problem’. The Roundhouse should have nothing to do with this propaganda fantasy-fest.’
David Calder, actor
‘This festival is not about art but political propaganda. It is set up by the Israeli government as a distraction from its theft of land and brutal oppression of Palestinians. Particularly despicable is the presence of Mark Regev, notorious apologist for Israeli war crimes. The Roundhouse should have the guts to cancel this charade.’
Ken Loach, film director
‘Attempts by Israel and its apologists to seduce people through the arts and invisibilise the plight of Palestinian generations withering in a political hinterland through well funded and publicised events are not new phenomena. They are part of a wider campaign to decontextualise the Zionist project and present the distinctly political and as merely cultural. Hosting events such as this is an unambiguously political stance and all venues should be aware of this. From this platform I and many others publicly call on the Roundhouse and all hosting venues to discontinue their involvement in this insidious apologism for the usurpation of Palestinian rights to free movement, self-determination and safe housing.’
‘The Roundhouse should know better.’
Mike leigh, writer and film director