Artists slam Israel’s planned occupation of London’s Roundhouse

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.’
Lowkey, musician

‘The Roundhouse should know better.’
Mike leigh, writer and film director 




14 thoughts on “Artists slam Israel’s planned occupation of London’s Roundhouse

  1. Agnes Losonczi says:

    You’re fartists, no more. Craving for some limelight cannot you invent anything else?! Of course, anyone falling for the bds crap has mental problems by default, so no hope about using your brains, but I’ve never heard of you speaking out against assad of Syria f. i., who uses sarin gas against his own citizens, mostly children…


    • Brian Griffen says:

      Erm. Don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with events lately or for the last couple of years even but Syria has had international sanctions imposed on them as well as having the shit bombed out of them from all angles (including Isreal) and you’re still complaining that Syria doesn’t get as bad a treatment as Isreal does!


  2. Michael Garin says:

    The region is battling cancer and you’re bravely taking on the common cold.

    You’re fooling no one save yourselves.


    • Paul Randall says:

      Yeah Israel always gets the blame. Here are some facts and a link for you.

      1) Egypt also has a border with Gaza and rarely lets anything through their Rafah Crossing whereas tons of supplies get through the Israeli crossing every day. (If Gaza wasn’t ruled by a genocidal terrorist group there would be no security barrier anyway).

      2) The Palestinian Authority issue permits for Gazan citizens to go to Israel for treatment and with the exception of Gazan children with heart defects who get treatment for free in Israel the funding needs to be issued by the PA from the aid money they get in abundance that Abbas and his cronies embezzle much of to build their luxury homes.

      3) The PA are currently trying to put pressure on Hamas (their rival party) and are doing that by refusing to provide those needed permits and funding.

      4) It has bugger all to do with Israel.

      5) You’re all gullible fools to blame the Jewish state for everything.

      5) There is no apartheid affecting Palestinians unless you mean Palestinian Christians living in Gaza who get persecuted by Hamas. Or those in Syria (in Al-Yarmouk) that are being starved by the Assad regime. Palestinians choose to not be Israeli citizens and don’t live in Israel. So if you think them not having the rights Israeli Jews and Arabs have constitutes Apartheid then maybe you’re onto something. I’ll seriously consider complaining that I, an Englishman can’t vote in Scottish elections. If there are no Jews to blame you don’t even ever mention suffering of Palestinians caused by Assad, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority because: “No Jews no news” right?

      6) I’ve been to Israel and spoken to Israeli Arabs. Have you? The ones I spoke to feel fortunate that they are living in Israel under a democratic system where their civil and religious rights are protected. So save your criticism for the pathetic leadership that the Palestinians elected who’s only goal is to keep the conflict going as long as possible to skim as much money as possible.

      7) If the international community stopped providing aid money the incitement would stop, the Palestinians would improve their economy (which is actually already improving dramatically) and eventually they will see that terrorism doesn’t pay. Currently for them it does.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Bett says:

      Always the comparison with low bar options. You always want to be seen as preferable to other Middle East countries in your human rights but never so keen on a comparison with, say, Denmark. Israel aspires to be a European country in Middle East. But has as much credibility as Turkey!!


  3. Zoe says:

    I find it extremely telling that the comments posted on this & other sites attacking people for supporting the human rights of Palestinians are usually filled w/ cursing & childish insults vs. thoughtfully reasoned argument. It is telling regards to the character of those posting here attacking you.

    I only want to respond to your statement in your post here; that the appropriation by Israelis of the term ‘the jewel of the Mediteranean’ which was used for beautiful & ancient Jaffa will never be acknowledged by people who have the shocking audacity to have invented the lie ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’.

    This apparently ceaseless appropriation is done w/ all of our traditional foods as well. They are not ‘Israeli’ foods belonging to a country; but rather ancient regional foods which are not only made & eaten by one religion/political nation. It’s very angering really.

    I think there will only be peace when Israelis & their supporters – such as those abusive people who have posted comments before me here – begin to feel that Palestinians & Lebanese are human beings as they themselves are human beings & hence deserving of respect & honour & dignity & love.


    • richardgalber says:

      Beirut used to be the Jewel of the Mediterranean. Now it is Tel Aviv. Life moves along. What was yesterday can lose its lustre and preeminent status today. And yes, during and prior to the Ottoman rule the areas comprising Israel were neglected, under populated, under developed and disease ridden spaces. It was the advent of Zionism to the area that precipitated the development and advancement


      • Zoe says:

        @ Richard Galber

        Firstly Beirut was called ‘The Paris of the East’ & Jaffa Palestine known as ‘The Jewel of the Mediterranean’ vs. what you have written.

        Second *nobody* across the world is referring to Tel Aviv as any sort of ‘Jewel’ w/ its sterile looking brutalist archticture which has ruined the previous Oriental architecture & landscape – aside from Israelis themselves in self-delusion & as propaganda. As w/ so many places in the world its an architectural nightmare. Then there is also the ‘jewel’-like beauty of that massive concrete wall scarring the landscape & destroying lives & the ‘jewel’-like highways & their beautiful pillars. The list goes on… so lovely… The world is particularly fond of those shimmering gun towers!

        Third your description of the Palestinians & Palestine prior to “Zionism” (to quote you) / the Zionist Occupation & the Catastrophe is propaganda also. There are oceans of photographs & paintings & writing & documentation showing & proving the beauty & complexity & sophistication of Palestine & its people. (As complexity & sophistication seems to be your only value of a people. Despite its taxation on the environment & natural world. There is something to be said for Native American & Sami & Maori & Bedouin &c lifestyles. But that is another argument for another day). Jaffa – the original subject here – supplied its famed oranges to the world… for only one example. How do you propose this was done if the lie you have put forth is true.

        There is also the very shameful matter of you & others like you who repeat this stereotypical trope against indigenous Palestinians profoundly insulting the Oriental Jews who remained in Palestine for thousands of years & lived side by side w/ their Christian & Muslim neighbours. I suppose they did not exist *either* – when they lived in a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’. Believe me they were the first people to loathe the “Zionism” you *insist* was an improvement. Something that does not fit the propaganda narrative that they were forced to give even their own children to. (In the Israeli miseducation system w/ textbooks full of lies & propaganda & rewriting of historical facts).

        Please read & study more before simply spouting the same tired cruel propaganda. For only a start there is the beautiful photo book ‘Before Their Diaspora’ by Walid Khalidi (Institute for Palestine Studies). It’s a picture (photo) book w/ text – hence not so difficult for a start.

        Frankly I find hateful remarks like yours so terribly abusive that they are really traumatising to me. After a long lifetime of this undeserved abuse. (I had Jewish family murdered by the Nazis also – so thanks for piling on your genocidal xenophobia as well). I realised long ago that the hate that you reveal you have toward us can *never* be changed by anything we say or do. You are simply wrong. I pray for the enlightenment of all those who are simply *wrong*. I am praying for an outcome like that of South Africa.


  4. Richard Galber says:

    While the above named all attempt to destroy a nation , we as Israelis and Israels’ supporters support the vibrancy and success that is Israel.
    In all my encounters with the anti-Israel brigade (not Pro-Palestinian) I have yet to find any positive activism to try and establish a viable state; the entire movement is to try and destroy Israel
    In 2005 the Palestinians had a chance to establish the basis of a viable state, but instead voted for war
    One of the above dear writers talked of the siege of Gaza. As a supposedly educated person, he should be aware of the difference between the words ‘siege’ and ‘blockade’ and use the appropriate wording. Gaza is under a blockade’ a term and a situation recognized by the beloved UN


  5. Neil Chamberlain says:

    Just a bunch of sad hasbin artists who have nothing better to do with their time but ignore the reality on the ground and the starvation and inhumanity inflicted upon the Palestinian people by their very own corrupt leadership all of whom are billionaires from creaming off aid money for decades sent to the Palestinian people by the UN and charities all around the world. Your only desire is to constantly blame Israel for existing in the first place and by your support of this action you are not achieving anything positive indeed your support of PSC and BDS brings no benefit to the Palestinian people whatsoever and actually harms their way of life, furthering yet more misery. Let’s see something positive from you artists for a change instead of this type of discriminatory behaviour.


  6. Janus Avivson says:

    Blaming Israel for ills of Palestinians is really boring and smells with antisemitism. Palestinians have their own government and Hamas was elected to rule Gaza, I think that any mature grievances should be directed to them. These people in 2005 could choose peace and prosperity and instead decided to push Israelis into the sea, well, this did not happen. Use of Roundhouse as a cultural venue benefits all of us, local residents as well (I am one of them), and people from outside should not interfere – most of the signatories are professional problem seekers and not healers, which is a pity. As we see their miserable efforts have no effect on anything. Thanks God nobody listens to them anymore!


  7. John Davies says:

    Good to see this PR event being called out for what it is. Despite all the insults and invective in previous comments, this kind of boycott call is vital if we are to play any part in halting Israeli settlement and oppression.


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