Palestinian artists and cultural organisations in Gaza and beyond have written an appeal for solidarity from all those who work in the arts internationally. We are proud to publish their letter below.
“We members of the Palestinian cultural and artistic community in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip, across historic Palestine and in exile make this heartfelt appeal to our fellow artists from around the world to cancel all scheduled performances, exhibitions and appearances in Israel, or sponsored by the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions, whether in-person or online, for as long as Israel’s regime of military occupation and apartheid persists.
In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s war crimes and violations of international law are proceeding with unprecedented impunity. Even in fighting the pandemic, Israel is revealing its appalling racism, a fact that should trouble people of conscience everywhere.
Israel has dumped Palestinian laborers suspected of having coronavirus at military checkpoints “with no regard for their health or safety,” as video footage shows. It has destroyed a makeshift Palestinian clinic that was planned to care for coronavirus victims in the occupied Jordan Valley. It has also denied COVID-19 testing to entire communities of Indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, and irrefutably discriminated in making updated and accurate coronavirus information available in Arabic to the Palestinian community in a timely manner.
The UN has long said that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020, after thirteen years of Israel’s brutal siege that has confined two million Palestinians, mostly refugees, to a narrow coastal strip. Israel has subjected Gaza to regular bombardments, killing thousands, among them our friends, colleagues and family members, in the last decade alone.
Here we are reaching the end of 2020 as the world faces a global pandemic that Palestinians too, including in Gaza, must somehow survive. UN human rights expert Michael Lynk recently highlighted that Gaza’s health care system had been collapsing even before the first cases of coronavirus were detected, a shameful reality for which Israel bears full responsibility as the occupying power.
Over five thousand Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, and millions of Palestinians living in crowded refugee camps in and outside of Palestine are at severe risk of COVID-19 outbreak. Palestinian hospitals, especially in Gaza, are devastated by decades of Israeli occupation and siege. A serious lack of essential medical supplies and intensive care hospital beds combined with regular power outages means that the growing outbreak could have potentially devastating consequences for Palestinians in Gaza.
Hospitals were already stretched to breaking point dealing with countless gunshot wounds from Israeli fire and resultant amputations. Israeli snipers have deliberately shot and maimed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in the last two years during the peaceful Great March of Return and killed hundreds, including children, medics, journalists, and disabled people.
Israeli snipers have even competed over the number of knees each can claim to have shot to pieces, publicly boasting about their “hits.” UN investigators said these atrocities may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed against indigenous people protesting for the right to return to the homes and land from which they were ethnically cleansed.
Two years ago, just a short drive from apartheid Tel Aviv, Israel destroyed an important cultural centre in Gaza, the Said al-Mishal, with targeted airstrikes. Violations and abuses against Palestinian musicians, poets, actors and other artists are commonplace, including in occupied East Jerusalem. As South African leaders have recognized, Israel has created an even worse apartheid system against Palestinians, with which there should be no business-as-usual.
At this time of global distress, uncertainty and frightening impunity it is disturbing that some international artists are still scheduled to appear in-person in apartheid Tel Aviv or online at events sponsored by Israel or its complicit cultural institutions. As fellow artists, we urge them to cancel their engagements, to be on the right side of history, and to show meaningful solidarity with the oppressed.”
Abna’ona Association for Development
Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development
Al Bayader Theater Group
Al Fordaws Association for Development
Al Harah Theater
Al Karama Complex for Culture and Arts
Al Manal Association for Women Rural Development
Al Rowad Society for Youth Development
Al Sununu Society for Culture and Arts
Al Taghreed Association for Culture, Development
Al-Awda Center for Childhood and Youth
Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society
Amwaj Association for Social Development and Improvement
Asalah Commission for Palestinian Popular Heritage
Association for Culture, Art and Popular Heritage
Baladi Center For Culture and Arts
Bethlehem Academy for Music
Bureij Cultural Forum
Cultural Al Maghazi Center
Cultural and Social Deir Al Balah Center
Cultural Forum for Youth
Cultural Unity Association
Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)
Culture Association For Protection Heritage
Culture, Arts and Heritage Association
Dar Elshabab for Culture & Development
El Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe
Gaza Center for Culture and Arts
General Union of Cultural Centres (GUCC)
Jerusalemite Youth Cultural Forum
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
Milad Centre for Youth Abilities Development
Nawa for Culture and Arts Association
Palestinian Al Najada Association
Palestinian Circus School
Popular Art Centre
Siwar Association for Culture and Arts
Tawasul for Youth and Culture
The Cultural Forum Centre
The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
The Palestinian Association for Heritage’s Development and Protection
Theatre Day Productions
Theatre for All
Youth and Environment Association
Ismail Abu Ali, nai player
Khalil Abu Ghazal, singer
Abdulaziz Abu Sharkh, qanun player
Abdulfattah Abu Srour, director
Shahd Abusalama, dancer
Yousri Al-Ghoul, writer, artist
Nai Barghouti, singer
Haidar Eid, musician
Hanin Ejla, singer
Samir Eskanda, musician
Ibrahim Ghunaim, rapper
Mohammed Jerjes, singer
Hannah Khalil, playwright
Alaa Khatib, painter
Ahmed Masoud, author, playwright
Malak Matar, painter
Mahmoud Modallal, singer, musician
ِِِArab M. Moghanni, Snonou Institution for Culture
Mona Mosaddar, poet
Emad Mudallal, singer
Abdulkarim Mudallal, singer
May Odeh, Director, producer
Mohammed Qraeqea, painter
Malek Qraeqea, painter
Fahmy Saqqa, keyboard player, composer
Ghada Shuman, singer
Ahmed Tafeish, singer
Le Trio Joubran, band