On Monday The Guardian put out a press association report on high-profile sculptor Anish Kapoor’s acceptance of Israel’s $1 million Genesis prize. The prize is awarded by the Genesis Prize Foundation, the office of the Israeli prime minister and the Jewish Agency for Israel and “recognises individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their fields and whose actions and achievements express a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel”.
Artists have written to DJ Fatboy Slim asking him to cancel his forthcoming show in Tel Aviv. Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, said recently in an interview that his criteria for accepting a gig means it has to ‘fulfil the 5 f’s’ – a first, a favour for a friend, fun, finance, food. Playing the settler-colonial state may be ‘a first’ for Fatboy, but it’s only going to be ‘fun’ if he ignores the experience of Palestinians including those within Israel’s borders. We hope he thinks again.
- Haaretz: ‘Former Pink Floyd bassist signs an open letter telling the electronic duo to not be fooled by Tel Aviv’s cool vibe while a different petition accuses artists who perform in Israel of whitewashing apartheid.’ (November 5, 2016)
Report in the Guardian: ‘Former Pink Floyd man joins campaign alongside Caryl Churchill and Maxine Peake seeking a cultural boycott to promote better treatment of Palestinians’ (November 2, 2016)
- Report in Pitchfork: ‘Roger Waters, Thousands More Petition the Chemical Brothers to Cancel Tel Aviv Show’; and here in NME magazine and MixMag (November 1, 2016)
- In an interview with Israeli media Chemical Brothers deny they are asked to boycott Israel despite over 7,000 people asking them to do just that. They are quoted as saying ‘pressure was not applied to us. We will go to any place where young people want to see us playing. We are not really involved in all the rest’. Needless to say, if the controversial concert goes ahead, fans in the occupied Palestinian territories will not be able to reach it due to ‘all the rest’. (October 29, 2016).
- More than 7,000 people sign a petition asking Chemical Brothers Ed and Tom not to play Tel Aviv! (October 28, 2016)
Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, due to perform in the Israeli-occupied Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday 20 September, is a Global Ambassador for Oxfam.
Artists for Palestine UK has engaged in discussion with Oxfam in the hope the organisation would dissuade him from going ahead with the performance.
We have argued that an NGO which recruits artists to promote its values needs to make sure the artists’ actions are consistent with those values. Baaba Maal appearing in occupied East Jerusalem is not, we’ve argued, consistent with Oxfam’s stated opposition to Israeli colonisation policy.
We are making public an edited version of our most recent letter to our Oxfam interlocutors.
UPDATE 11 Sept: Il Fatto Quotidiano today printed a full page interview with Eno.
Italian newspapers are reporting opposition to Israeli state sponsorship of a performance by Batsheva dance company, due to take place tomorrow (Sept 6) in Turin.
La Republica has published in full a letter sent in June to Batsheva’s artistic director Ohad Naharin by composer Brian Eno, explaining why he has withdrawn permission for his music to be used in the performance. La Stampa has quoted from it and the story has been picked up by Italian news agency ANSA.
See here a translation by Stephanie Westbrook of BDS Italia of the Republica article, plus the text of Brian Eno’s letter.
UPDATE 3 SEPTEMBER: Baaba Maal actively engaged with pro-Palestinian campaigners urging him to respect the Palestinian boycott call, seeming to leave open the possibility that he would not go to Israel on September 20.
Baaba is pictured (left) in discussion with Guardian editor-at-large Gary Younge during the Africa Utopia festival at London’s Southbank Centre, where hundreds of Artists for Palestine UK leaflets were in circulation. A separate protest took place outside the building.
Younge referred to his own experience as a participant in the Palestinian Literature Festival (PalFest) in which artists were obliged to travel to meet their audiences because Palestinians are not themselves free to move around.
“Why would you go to a place where people can’t travel and there is a boycott going on?” he asked.
The 2016 Edinburgh Fringe once again offers a much-needed platform for Palestinian artists to demonstrate their talent, creativity and vitality despite the extraordinary difficulties they face in their daily lives and in producing, exhibiting and performing their work. But this year “the biggest arts festival on the planet” has shocked friends of Palestine with a last minute addition to the programme organised by groups committed to promoting Israeli interests and undermining those of Palestine. A letter of protest from Artists for Palestine UK is attracting growing support and a local campaign is gathering strength.
Sneaked onto the online programme after the printed version was published, the International Shalom Festival scheduled for August 17 is an initiative of COFIS, the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland, and StandWithUs – two pro-Israel advocacy organisations that work with the Israeli Embassy to undermine and oppose campaigning work in support of Palestinian rights.
“I’ve been a fan of Baaba Maal for around a quarter century. The thought of him playing in apartheid Israel instead of showing solidarity with the Palestinian people makes no sense to me” – audience member at the WOMAD festival.
The campaign to persuade renowned Senegalese musician Baaba Maal to reconsider his decision to perform on September 20 in Occupied East Jerusalem made headway last week with his appearance at two music festivals in the UK and boycott calls spreading internationally.
Israeli citizens urged him to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people, addressing him in his own words: “I stand as one because I believe we all deserve to live in safety.”
The call was taken up in France at the same time as leaflets headlined “Baaba Maal: Don’t support apartheid Israel” were well-received by the crowd at Baaba’s gig at the WOMAD, Charlton Park, festival in southwest England on Saturday July 30. They were mentioned by Financial Times reviewer David Honigmann in his festival report.
Artists for Palestine UK, working together with campaigners in France, Senegal, Palestine and Israel, has addressed an open letter to the renowned West African musician Baaba Maal, urging him to withdraw from a planned appearance at an Israeli musical festival in the Old City of Jerusalem in September. A French language version of the letter follows the English text below.
Artists for Palestine UK has written to the organisers of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe enclosing a letter of protest from the founder of Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem, over the inclusion on the Fringe programme of an event billed as “probably the most significant pro-Israel advocacy event of the year in the United Kingdom”.
UPDATE: Globe actors defend playing in Israel “regardless of politics”
Shakespeare’s Globe theatre has ignored Palestinian appeals and the good counsel of a number of their UK peers by going ahead with their performance of Hamlet at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv on March 30.
Showing either ignorance of, or disregard for the highly politicised nature of culture in Israel-Palestine, members of the company justified their action at a press conference, stating, “It was clear to us that we would be coming to Israel, regardless of politics” and “We try not to deal with local politics of the places to which we travel”.
As is usual when the Palestinian boycott picket line is crossed by international artists, Israeli media portrayed the Globe’s appearance as a failure for the cultural boycott movement.
This English-language news report is a prime example.
Statements made at their press conference by actors Keith Bartlett and Jennifer Lang were quoted in a Hebrew language report . Thanks to Ofer Neiman for the following translations into English.
“We travel all over the world, and politics is none of our business”, said Keith Bartlett (playing Polonius), adding “We are here to tell a story, and it is exciting to see how it is received everywhere we perform. It was clear to us that we would be coming to Israel, regardless of politics”
Jennifer Lang (playing Ophelia): “We intend for this tour to tell its story to as many people across the world. Any viewer who is not a regular viewer of the Globe is an addition for us. We try not to deal with local politics of the places to which we travel”.
Why has Shakespeare’s Globe added a performance at Israel’s Cameri theatre on March 30 to the tour schedule for its production of Hamlet, in breach of the boycott of institutions that reinforce the oppression of Palestinian artists and their communities?
This is the question addressed on Friday (March 25) to artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, as his ten year stint at the celebrated London theatre draws to a close, in an open letter signed by British and Palestinian theatre professionals.
In 2012, 37 actors, writers and directors protested the fact that Shakespeare’s Globe had invited Habima, the national theatre of Israel, to take part in its Globe to Globe festival. The specific ground for the protest was that Habima regularly performs in Ariel, the largest of Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. A letter signed by the 37, including Mark Rylance who was Dromgoole’s predecessor as artistic director at the Globe, attracted considerable media attention and gave impetus to the cultural boycott campaign which is now supported by growing numbers of artists in all fields.
Four years on, the management of the Globe can be in no doubt that adding the Cameri theatre to its schedule attracts at least as much opprobrium as the invitation to Habima in 2012. Continue reading
Musician Roger Waters speaks out against the criminalisation in France of non-violent boycott in defence of Palestinian rights. We reproduce his letter, picked up from a French news agency by the website Mondoweiss.
Mes Cher Citoyens,
Along with most thinking, feeling and compassionate members of global civil society, I deplore the occupation of Palestine and the subjugation of all of its non-Jewish peoples. The State of Israel’s anti-Palestinian discrimination since 1947/8 is unacceptable.
I am anti-racist, anti-colonialist, anti-war, anti-oppression, and anti- discrimination.
Every document of civilisation, wrote Walter Benjamin, is also a document of barbarism. He could have had the corporate-sponsored London art scene in mind – and in particular the Zabludowicz Collection, now a strong presence in London, as it is in New York and Helsinki. With the growing influence of Zabludowicz, art and the occupation of Palestine are becoming more closely linked – a linkage which artists are now challenging.
Musician Brian Eno, signatory of the UK Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, and Ohal Grietzer , a musician and activist with the Israeli group BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, made the following joint contribution to public discussion about the cultural boycott of Israel on Vice.com.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has issued the following statement about the Zabludowicz Art Trust.
Art should not be used to cover up apartheid: Boycott the Zabludowicz Art Trust!
Occupied Palestine, October 26, 2015 — The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls for a boycott of the Zabludowicz Art Trust for its deep complicity in Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.
The Zabludowicz Art Trust directly supports Israel’s oppression of Palestinians through its funder, The Tamares Group, which is responsible for investments in Knafaim, an Israeli-based holding company, focused on the aviation industry, with major holdings in several Israeli companies including Kanfey Tachzuka, which provides maintenance services to the Israeli Air Force, notorious for its ongoing commission of war crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Continue reading
The appearance last week of some famous UK cultural names on a statement defending Israel against boycott has sparked a wave of incredulity and outrage from fellow artists.
Artists, actors, writers, editors, musicians and filmmakers are among those queuing up to defend the boycott tactic after JK Rowling, Hilary Mantel and historian Simon Schama joined well-known pro-Israel lobbyists in attacking it. Rowling and co urged cultural ‘coexistence’ and ‘dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians’ and called the Palestinian boycott campaign “divisive and discriminatory”.
“It is Israeli policies towards Palestinians which are divisive and discriminatory,” said actress Miriam Margolyes, one of more than 1000 UK artists who have signed a commitment not to cooperate with Israeli state-funded cultural institutions as long as Palestinian rights are denied.
“Artists used the tactic of boycott against apartheid in South Africa and we are doing it again in support of Palestine– because no one else is holding Israel to account,” she said.
Composer Brian Eno, one of a number whose letters were published in the Guardian on October 27, said he appreciated the desire for dialogue, “but what kind of dialogue is realistically possible between a largely unarmed and imprisoned people whose land is disappearing before its eyes, and the heavily weaponised State that’s in the process of taking it.” Continue reading
This piece by Times of Israel founding editor David Horowitz perfectly demonstrates Israel’s desperate need for cultural nourishment from abroad to sustain its armed dominance over the Palestinian people.
The Indie band alt-J, from Leeds in northeast England, ignored weeks of appeals from pro-Palestinian campaigners and broke the boycott to play two nights in Rishon Lezion just south of Tel Aviv on August 23 and 24. Horowitz’s purple prose exalts the audience who had flocked to the concert as “young Israel — army kids and post-army kids and tomorrow’s army kids”.
Alt-J were providing much-needed R&R for the soldiers who had decimated Gaza a year earlier and will do so again if called upon. It would be hard to find a clearer justification for the Palestinian cultural boycott campaign urged upon those who wish to see an end to Israeli apartheid. (For a more prosaic write-up, see this piece in the Jerusalem Post .)
“ISRAEL’S BEAUTIFUL YOUTH LIFTED BY THE GOSPEL OF ALT-J
An English band’s soaring harmonies strike a chord with the soldiers of a year ago and tomorrow. Continue reading
Artists for Palestine UK is proud to be a partner in this new initiative .
It’s time to ‘Make Apartheid History’ starting Mandela Day, Sat 18th July, 2015
Make Apartheid History, the follow-up to Bethlehem Unwrapped, launched online on Saturday 18th July, and we held our first event at London’s Southbank with a programme of poetry and prose linking civil rights, anti-apartheid, and Palestinian solidarity movements.Edited highlights of performances by Paterson Joseph, Miriam Margolyes, Kika Markham, Leila Sansour, Jeremy Hardy and Sam West are here.
Make Apartheid History is an international project that brings together creative individuals, organisations and networks from around the world – starting with Palestine and the UK; South Africa and USA – for a programme of popular events commencing summer 2015 and culminating Mandela Day, summer 2016. Our short introductory video is here. Continue reading