Artswatch reports on some of the events before, during and after the 14th May massacre in Gaza.
A chain of killings
Before the deaths of more than 60 people on 14th May, there were other killings, which took a heavy toll of media workers.
In the early hours of April 7, wrote Mariam Barghouti in AlJazeera, ‘we received a message that Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja had succumbed to his wounds in a hospital.’ He had been shot by Israeli snipers in Gaza a day earlier, on a day on which 28 others also died.
Just two days before his murder, Barghouti wrote, ‘Yaser messaged us to explain that he was working on a documentary on the Great March of Return. He never finished his documentary, never came home to his wife and two-year-old son and, instead of reporting news, he became the news.
The message came as a shock to us. His friends were in disbelief and those of us that never met Yaser but knew of him as a journalist comrade met the news with pain and a realisation that we are never truly safe. No press card, no shield can save us from murder. Continue reading
The writer-director of the acclaimed feature film ‘In Between’, one of the films programmed by the Seret London Israel Film & TV Festival, is one of 36 filmmakers and others to have signed a letter published in the Guardian today saying that UK cinemas should “uphold basic ethical standards” and refuse to provide a platform to “a regime that is guilty of systematic and large-scale human rights violations”. Maysaloun Hamoud has also withdrawn her film.
According to its website, the festival, which is supported by the Israeli Embassy and the World Zionist Organisation, intends to reflect Israel as a “melting pot of cultures, religions and backgrounds”. But Hamoud, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, said in a statement to Artists for Palestine UK:
“I do not want my film, or my name, to be used to portray an image of Israel as a “melting pot of cultures and religions”.
The arts, the filmmakers’ letter says, are “being employed to give an apparently acceptable face to a brutal reality”. They add that “Israel deliberately and routinely denies media freedom to Palestinians” citing the targeting of Palestinian journalists and photographers by Israeli forces.
‘We will no longer be performing at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin this August. After we were recently announced for the festival, we were contacted privately by Palestinian artists and human rights activists about the festival’s cooperation with the state of Israel, and how this serves to normalise and whitewash Israel’s military occupation and decades of oppression against the Palestinian people. We cannot in good conscience be part of that.
As a band, Shopping are and will always be completely opposed to any form of oppression and discrimination, including homophobia, transphobia, colonialism and racism. We stand firmly against antisemitism and Islamophobia. For these reasons, and in harmony with the principles of the nonviolent, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, we affirm our solidarity with the Palestinian call for BDS.’
Maxine Peake, Liam Cunningham, Juliet Stevenson and Helena Kennedy QC are among 36 filmmakers and others who have signed a letter protesting the hosting of the Seret London Israeli Film and TV Festival in UK cinemas, due to the involvement of the Israeli Embassy. The letter, published in Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian, says that cinemas are providing a platform for “a regime that is guilty of systematic and large-scale human rights violations”. Full letter and signatories below.
We write to ask you to cancel your concert in Israel. We do so knowing that band members are not indifferent to the situation in Palestine. In a 2008 interview, Jay Kay said, ‘Ask me something else; Ask me about the situation in Palestine’.
If we asked you about the situation in Palestine today, you’d probably know that it has greatly deteriorated since 2008, with three prolonged bombing campaigns by Israel on Gaza. The besieged Strip is, according to the United Nations, ‘unlivable’, and there’s an ever expanding colonisation of land in the Palestinian West Bank. Continue reading
Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
Dareen Tatour: languid oppression
The Israeli state continues its legal harassment of Dareen Tatour (Artswatch 2016 and 2017). Yoav Haifawi reports in +972 (17th December) that more than two years after her arrest in October 2015, the poet’s trial ‘drags on languidly’ in a Nazareth court with no end in sight. On Monday, December 4, the remand judge once again rejected her request to be released from the house arrest imposed on her ‘until the end of legal proceedings.’ Even when she is allowed to leave her house during the day, she must be accompanied at all times by a court-authorized custodian. Under such conditions it is clear, writes Haifawi, that she cannot work or live a normal life.
Brian Eno, musician
More than 100 artists including leading lights in film, theatre, literature, and music have come together to sign a statement of support for the singer, songwriter and record producer Lorde. While signatories to the letter, which is published on the Guardian’s letter page, may hold a range of positions on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), they are united in their defence of the right to freedom of conscience. We are happy to publish the letter and the FULL list of signatories, below.
[Photo: Perou for the Guardian]
Today’s edition of The Guardian (December 12) carries a letter signed by one hundred artists, including prominent writers, filmmakers, and musicians, in response to Trump’s ‘recognition’ of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The signatories, who include actors Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton and musician Peter Gabriel, said:
In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city […]
We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.
As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.
The full list of signatories is published here.
Separately, some of the artists have issued their own individual statements, one of them in verse. We are proud to publish responses by poet Michael Rosen, musicians Peter Gabriel and Robert Wyatt, playwright Caryl Churchill, writers Selma Dabbagh, Hari Kunzru and Ahmed Masoud, producer Kate Parker, filmmaker Ken Loach, and more below.
Musician and writer Nick Cave declared at a press conference on Sunday that he wanted to ‘make a principled stand’ by crossing the Palestinian boycott picket line, dismissing widespread calls to cancel his group the Bad Seeds’ two concerts in Tel Aviv. Cave’s words have found him a new fan-base in the form of Israel’s government: there has been an outpouring of public endorsements from its foreign ministry and diplomatic missions across Europe, the U.S., and Australia, as well as from numerous lobby groups.
We have sampled, and reproduced below, tweets from ten Israeli government bodies and spokespeople and seven lobby groups, all of which work hard to counter the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement and promote Israel’s interests.
Nick Cave declared his love for Israel, and the Israeli regime reciprocated, providing further proof, if any were needed, of the propaganda value to Israel of appearances by international artists. Cave has gifted Israel’s government a PR coup. Yet Israel’s imposition of decades of military occupation and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian population is increasingly being challenged by principled solidarity, including from artists. Instead of helping Israel’s regime to whitewash its violations of Palestinian human rights, we invite Cave to support those working for freedom and rights for all. Continue reading
Israel’s officials wasted no time in reciprocating Nick Cave’s declaration of love for Israel, made at his recent press conference there. Today, leading writers have responded to the musician and author’s claims about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. These statements, published below, follow responses from artists including Brian Eno and Roger Waters.
Nick Cave has held a press conference in Israel, in which he explained he ‘decided to play in Israel to stand up to ‘anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians’. According to the NME: ‘The musician explained that his change in attitude came about when Brian Eno asked him to a sign a list called Artists For Palestine three years ago. “On a very intuitive level, [I] did not want to sign it,” he said. “There was something that stunk to me about that list.”
“So after a lot of thought and consideration I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing an European tour and Israel.’ Because it suddenly became very important to me to make a stand against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians. At the end of the day, there’s maybe two reasons why I’m here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. ”’
Today, in addition to a statement from Artists for Palestine UK, we are publishing a number responses to Cave’s comments from individual artists.
*UPDATE Thurston Moore comment added on 25.11.2017
Artists for Palestine UK statement.
Nick Cave has used the opportunity of a press conference in Israel to speak out about ‘silencing’. People around the world will be surprised to read that Cave has chosen not to speak out about the trial of the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour or the targeting of journalist Makbula Nasser in Israel; nor the indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial of Palestinian artists, journalists and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank; nor of the denial of permits for Palestinians musicians or of cancer patients seeking to exit Gaza.
Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
The Palestine Museum: in search of connectedness
August saw the opening of the Palestine Museum at Bir Zeit. Its first major exhibition, Jerusalem Lives, aims to speak about Jerusalem to Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank who are prevented from visiting the city. The exhibition registers Jerusalem’s diminishing place in the world: ethnic domination and the relentless takeover of Palestinian neighbourhoods, are turning Jerusalem from a global city into one which is losing its connectedness to other places. Nigel Wilson in Al Jazeera quotes curator Reem Fadda on a sound installation by Emily Jacir in the museum’s gardens: she asked the taxi drivers ‘to recreate the emotion that was there when they used to take travellers all across the cities of Palestine, from Lyd to Ramle to Ramallah and across the borders into Arab cities; they used to go to Damascus, Beirut and it was all connected’.
October 30th, 2017, London.
Dear Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,
You are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on 19th & 20th November. Please don’t go.
In the words of a recent UN report, ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people’.
Asked about the recent decision by artists Nick Cave, Bryan Adams and Thom Yorke to either cross the picket line called for by Palestinian civil society, or announce their intention to do so, Roger Waters has told Artists for Palestine UK:
I wonder if Nick and Bryan [Adams, scheduled to play Tel Aviv December 4 and 5, and Jerusalem December 6] and Thom Yorke and the rest of these guys were to spend even a day or two in administrative detention [without charge or trial], or even once have their kids woken and arrested in the middle of the night, or, or, or……whether they would still ignore the screams of the victims and the desperate pleas for help from Palestinian civil society, whether they would still cross the picket line.
And before all the self justification starts, yes, of course other countries have bad records on human rights, not least the USA. But in the fight for human rights we have to make our stand where and when we can. In the 60s it was Jim Crow America, in the 80s and 90s it was Apartheid South Africa, now it is Lawless Apartheid Israel. You stood up for your South African brothers and sisters in the 90s, why would you ignore your Palestinian brothers and sisters in the 2010s?
You stand at a crossroads; you can either heed the cry, respect your brothers’ and sisters’ picket line and stand with them in their struggle for the basic human rights we all take for granted, or you can turn your backs on them, take the shilling, and entertain their lords and masters at the banquets and balls.
In recent years, people promoting the mantras of ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘bridge-building’ with Israel have cited Professor Noam Chomsky in their defence. He is alleged to oppose the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
Artists for Palestine UK contacted Professor Chomsky to ask him to clarify his position, for the record.
He has given us this statement:
‘I am opposed to any appearance in Israel that is used for nationalistic or other propaganda purposes to cover up its occupation and denial of Palestinian human rights. I’ve been involved in activities to hold Israel accountable for its international law violations since before the BDS movement took shape. While I have some tactical differences with the BDS movement, I strongly support the actions and continue to participate in them.’
Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) strongly condemns threats made against British artist Kate Tempest as a result of her support for Palestinian rights. A poet, spoken word artist and author, Tempest is one of more than 1200 UK-based artists to sign APUK’s pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of Israel. This conscientious decision by so many principled artists stands in stark contrast to the shameful intimidation tactics, including personal threats, directed against Tempest, which led to the cancellation of her concert, scheduled for October 6th 2017 at Berlin’s former airport Tempelhof. Tempest’s management said that she did not want to perform in an “aggressive atmosphere”, having received “personal threats via email and over social media”, adding that they did not want to risk the safety of her team.
Last month eight artists cancelled appearances at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin, in protest at the festival’s decision to partner with the Israeli embassy in Germany. In response, the festival organisers, media commentators and local politicians condemned these conscientious artists, often in racialised terms, and promoted straight lies about the terms and aims of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement. As the festival drew to a close, the purveyors of this defamatory and abusive rhetoric found a new target, with Kate Tempest identified by German media as a signatory to the APUK pledge. One recent article asked, “Can an anti-Israel activist appear in Berlin?”. Another demanded the city’s Mayor Michael Müller cancel the concert. Continue reading