Why is Jewish Community Centre JW3 celebrating Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat?

AN OPEN LETTER TO RAYMOND SIMONSON,
CEO OF JW3 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTRE LONDON

From Artists for Palestine UK
Sunday 10 September 2017, London.

Dear Raymond Simonson,

We’re reading the blurb for Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s presentation on Tuesday at JW3, and curious to know if JW3 as an organisation supports the views it expresses.

The blurb says ‘Nir Barkat was 7 years old…when Israel’s capital was finally reunited’.   You will know that the United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and the International Court of Justice consider that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel.   Where does JW3 stand?

The blurb refers to ‘Jerusalem at 50’ (presumably fifty years of Israeli conquest, since Jerusalem has been in existence in some form since the Canaanites), and calls this ‘the fulfilment of a 2000-year-old dream’.

We’re struggling with the gap between this and the language of the ‘About Us’ page on your website, which is all about ‘transforming the Jewish landscape in London by helping to create a vibrant, diverse and proud community’.   Nowhere do you mention promoting a commitment to Israel and Zionism as part of JW3’s role, but that is what the Barkat meeting clearly does.

If JW3 is simply a venue for the meeting, why is Barkat on your website?   And since he is there, what does JW3 think about what Human Rights Watch at the beginning of August called Israel’s ‘entrenched discrimination against Palestinians in Jerusalem, including residency policies that imperil their legal status’?

Barkat is implementing the Jerusalem Outline Plan 2000, which aims at ‘maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city’.   Doing this involves, among other things, revoking the residency of Palestinian Jerusalemites.   Human Rights Watch describes this as forced transfer; it’s cruel, but it’s also illegal under international law.   When JW3 opens its doors to mayor Barkat on Tuesday night, you’ll be celebrating the person currently responsible for what Human Rights Watch calls war crimes.   Is this what JW3 intends?

Yours sincerely,

The Artists for Palestine UK collective

*Photo: Palestinian family of 8 are evicted from Jerusalem home of 50 years to make way for Jewish settlers earlier this week

 

 

One thought on “Why is Jewish Community Centre JW3 celebrating Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat?

  1. Elly Kilroy says:

    I note that JW3 thanks the Jerusalem Foundation for ‘introducing the Mayor’s team to JW3.’ They must have written the blurb.

    According to PACBI, The Jerusalem Foundation has partnered with the extremist Israeli settler group Elad to appropriate and whitewash Palestinian cultural heritage in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, the so-called City of David. The excavations and the consequent “Judaization” of Jerusalem have been condemned by UNESCO.

    More on the Foundation here http://powerbase.info/index.php/Jerusalem_Foundation

    ‘Culture as propaganda

    In its 2010 annual report, the JF that one of the aims of its cultural projects is ‘impacting the city’s image as a dynamic, relevant cultural center’ and that its ‘intensive efforts, accompanied by those of the Jerusalem Municipality and other strategic partners, are bearing noticeable and measurable results.’ It describes how ‘Israeli and international press covering many of the city’s cultural events highlighted the richness and quality of Jerusalem’s unique and varied cultural landscape’ and claims that the ‘significant increase in cultural activity and the positive change in the public perception were a direct result of our continued, strategic support’.[19] In 2011, the section on cultural projects in the JF’s annual report stated that one of its three overarching goals was to ‘Impact the Image of the City’.[20] UK boycott of Jerusalem Quartet

    The Jerusalem Quartet, described by the JF as ‘prestigious cultural ambassador for Jerusalem and Israel'[21] who requested donors provide $140,000 to sponsors their classical music tours, have been boycotted in Edinburgh[22] , London [23] and Brighton.[24] Palestinian call for boycott of writers festival

    In February 2012 PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, issued a statement calling on writers not to take part in the International Writers’ Festival, held in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem, May 13-18 2012. Sponsored by the Jerusalem Foundation, along with the Israeli Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israeli President was also due to preside over the festival’s opening. PACBI noted the public relations intent of the festival to ‘improve the image of Jerusalem’. In their view, participation in the festival constituted a ‘celebration of Apartheid’ since ‘Israel subjects Palestinians to a cruel system of dispossession and racial discrimination’ in Jerusalem and elsewhere. They called on writers to boycott the festival and cited John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Alice Walker, Judith Butler, Iain Banks, Naomi Klein, Ahdaf Soueif and Eduardo Galeano as notable pro-boycott literary figures.[25] Boycott From Within call for boycott of Israel Festival

    In 2012 Israeli citizens from ‘Boycott From Within’ who support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, called on artists due to participate in the Israeli Festival, held in Jerusalem in May, not to participate. They wrote: ‘Please do not whitewash segregation, racism and occupation’ and stated that the call to boycott was ‘all the more relevant’ because the festival was sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Foundation. The British Council and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv also sponsored the festival. [26] They warned potential performers that ‘the Israeli government will endeavor to use your name to legitimize and promote the current oppressive and racist order’.[27]’

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