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.
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
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. Continue reading
Young Fathers, the Mercury Award-winning group from Edinburgh, have announced their withdrawal from Berlin Pop-Kultur to protest the festival’s acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in Germany.
The band are the third group of UK artists, and the eighth in total, to withdraw from Pop-Kultur in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation and in exile.
Artists for Palestine UK warmly thanks all fellow artists who act in support of the Palestinians’ urgent need for rights and freedom – despite considerable misinformation put out by the festival organisers and in German media coverage.
Young Fathers, who performed in M.I.A.’s Meltdown Festival at the London Southbank in June 2017, said in their statement:
“Young Fathers have a long history of opposing any form of hatred including racism and anti-semitism and we support the principle of a peaceful solution that allows Palestinians the right to return to a safe homeland and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace. This is a very tiny act on our behalf in the grand scale of things but one we still believe is worth it.”
Annie Goh is is the 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kutur over sponsorship by Israel. She issued the following statement via Facebook today, which we reproduce below. Aside from making clear the reasons for her cancellation, she criticises the misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding BDS, and describes as ‘despicable’ smears against the four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival (their principled statements are reproduced in part on our blog here).
Like Goh, we at Artists for Palestine UK have been particularly appalled at the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival could not have been clearer or more humane in articulating the reason and the object of their protest.
AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL UK MUSICIANS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN BERLIN AUGUST 23 – 25, 2017
‘Art goes beyond a single act on a stage; it’s against all that is regressive and discriminatory in this world’
Mohammad Abu Hajar, Syrian rapper
When you signed up to play Berlin Pop-Kultur, you possibly didn’t know that the Israeli Embassy in Germany was a sponsor. Maybe you also don’t know that Palestinian civil society, living under Israeli military occupation or in exile, is appealing to artists not to take part in events sponsored by the state of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians’ long struggle for rights and freedom.
But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?
Radiohead are a band that many had associated with progressive politics. But now it turns out they have an extraordinary following among Israeli diplomats and right-wing conservatives. From US radio host Glenn Beck and Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, a range of around twenty Israel lobby groups, and thirteen Israeli diplomatic missions around the world from Ireland to Colombia, these groups are united in their explicit contempt for the indigenous Palestinian people’s lives.
The Jerusalem Post described Radiohead’s Israel gig and Thom Yorke’s rejection of the Palestinian call for BDS as “the best hasbara [advocacy] Israel has received lately”. Thom Yorke has defended their decision saying that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government”, but the Israeli government and its supporters certainly do endorse Radiohead.
Palestinian, Israeli and UK artists and activists have repeatedly pointed to the inevitable instrumentalisation of the band’s appearance in Tel Aviv by Israel and its supporters.
Below are samples of government & lobby messaging from June and July.
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has issued the following statement regarding Radiohead’s decision to appear on stage in Israel tomorrow, disregarding appeals from Palestinians and their supporters around the world.
Via Artists for Palestine UK, London, July 18th
‘The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories has not ceased for one day in the last 50 years. This oppression includes daily violations of Palestinian human and civil rights and does not spare children, pregnant mothers, old people, disabled persons and ordinary men and women. The so called peace process has failed to end this oppression and each failure of its various stages has produced more oppression and despair for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Artists for Palestine UK statement
London, July 17
Film writer and director Mike Leigh has criticised Thom Yorke and Radiohead for ignoring Palestinian suffering, two days ahead of their controversial Israel gig.
Last week Radiohead front-man Yorke defended the band’s decision to play in Israel and ignore the Palestinian picket-line, arguing that music was about ‘crossing borders’ and ‘shared humanity’.
Today, Oscar nominated Leigh, who is in production for his forthcoming feature film ‘Peterloo’, issued the following statement via Artists for Palestine UK – Continue reading
Statement from Artists for Palestine UK
London, July 15
As UK band Radiohead prepares to perform in Israel on July 19 in direct breach of the Palestinian boycott, leading boycott supporter Ken Loach has faced defamatory attacks on his integrity.
Loach is committed to supporting Palestinian rights
Loach is one of over 1,220 signatories to the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine who have made the following commitment:
‘… In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.’
Because Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) has always understood the complex problems that artists from all disciplines face around rights ownership once an artwork enters the market, we have been explicit about which practical steps can be expected of artists who support the Palestinian call for boycott, and which cannot. The guidelines, which have been on the Artists for Palestine UK website since we launched in February 2015, include the following question and answer:
‘Q. I am an artist and I do not have control over who buys the art I produce, nor the circulation of that work once it has been sold. Am I in a position to sign the Pledge?