Artswatch Palestine: June-August 2018

Gaza – the war against culture

On Thursday, 9th August, at around 17.45, Israeli drones began firing missiles at the Sa’ed al-Mishal Cultural Centre on Aydiyia Street in al-Rimal neighbourhood, west of Gaza City.  The 5-story building which housed the centre was completely destroyed.

Since its establishment in 2004, write Mike Bartlett and other playwrights, Al Mishal had served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits and musical performances. It was the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts. The centre also included recreational activities – including the teaching of dabkeh – for children, who have been affected by three successive wars in Gaza.

The attack follows a missile strike in July which heavily damaged the Arts and Crafts Village, a museum managed by the City Council, housing material from Palestinian archaeological history, as well as contemporary work.

The Hague Convention respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land on 18 October 1907, established the principle of immunity for cultural objects, even in case of siege or bombardment – provided they are not being used for military purposes. Aware of this last provision, the Israeli government made sure to claim that Al Mishal was used by Hamas security forces.

*photo: Ali Abu Yassin, director, on the ruins of the Sa’ed al-Mishal Cultural Centre on Aydiyia Street, Gaza (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

A performance in March inside Gaza’s Al-Meshal Cultural Center (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Gaza – the war over meaning

 

On 8th August  Israeli warplanes attacked Palestinian homes in Gaza and killed Inas Hamrash, a pregnant 23 year old woman, and her 18 month old daughter Bayan. Her husband was badly injured. The BBC’s intitial coverage of this attack was headlined: “Israeli airstrikes ‘kill pregnant woman and toddler'”. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs complained,  and ‘toddler’ was changed to ‘baby’. This did not satisfy the MFA. Its spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon, responded to the headline with the following tweet, accusing the BBC of telling a  lie:

The BBC complied, finally changing the headline to ‘Gaza air strikes “kill woman and child” after rockets hit Israel’. It thus conformed to the Israeli narrative that its attacks on Gaza are acts of retaliation rather than forms of collective punishment, and in the process got rid of the inconvenient term ‘baby’ too.

This did not go unnoticed on social media.

 

Gaza – the forbidden subject

In 2008/9 Israel’s Operation Cast Lead killed over 1100 Palestinians living in Gaza and destroyed over 4000 homes.

The composer Wieland Hoban has written two pieces about Cast Lead. In May this year, he pitched the third and final work of his cycle to Bjorn Gottstein, the artistic director of the Donaueschinger Musiktage, Germany’s premiere new music festival. In July, Gottstein wrote back, saying that he would prefer to give other composers a chance. According to Hoban, he added that he would not tolerate any criticism of Israel at the festival and would prevent the appearance of any piece on the programme that contained such criticism.

Hoban responded with an open letter to Gottstein, which has since gathered around 170 signatures. ‘Naturally’, he wrote, ‘curators can decide which projects they consider productive or interesting; but this is not a matter of one particular project or one particular person, for Gottstein’s words constitute an absolute ban that applies to any and all composers who might be interested in addressing this subject.

‘I consider it unacceptable for a public debate to be prevented by censorship, whatever the issue. As an employee of a public broadcaster, Mr. Gottstein should not be in a position to prevent discussion of a particular topic due to his own personal convictions.”      (Donaueschinger Musiktage is presented by Südwestrundfunk, a public radio station financed by the German government.)

Bjorn Gottstein is not the only curator who finds it difficult to recognise support for Palestinian causes as politically and culturally legitimate. APUK reported on the decision of Stephanie Carp, Director of Ruhrtriennale 2018, to cancel her invitation to the Scottish band, Young Fathers, on the grounds that they had not distanced themselves from BDS.

NOTE Stephanie Carp later rescinded her decision.

Tatour – the forbidden poet

The website +972 has reported that an Israeli court has sentenced Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour to five months in prison for incitement to terrorism and violence over poems she published on her personal Facebook page. The sentence comes nearly three years after Tatour’s initial arrest, and the judicial process itself – with house arrest followed by travel restrictions – became part of Tatour’s punishment.

“This is a court of the occupation,” said Tatour – a Palestinian citizen of Israel – following her sentencing in Nazareth. “This is a racist state, and the Jewish Nation-State Law only proves that apartheid exists here. This will not deter me; I am not the first prisoner and I won’t be the last, I will continue.”

The long experience of trial and punishment has changed Tatour. Committed to a vision of a state that ‘includes everyone, based on the principles of justice and equality’, she also looks beyond Palestine. In an interview with Kim Jensen for Mondoweiss she explained:

‘After detention, I plan to dedicate myself to the women’s movement. I plan to establish a Palestinian women’s association that can connect with women’s rights groups around the world. In short, these last three years have made me love women more than ever and I hope to change with them … The increased visibility [of my trial] liberated me and I started writing about topics I had not written before, especially on women’s issues. There is no one and no law that will be able to prevent me from writing about all aspects of humanity. It was this exposure that motivated me to convey the pain of women as well as the Palestinian pain, beyond the borders.’

Nakba – the forbidden history

Maya Hasheri, in Ha’aretz (7th June) reports that Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev is seeking to cancel state funding for the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem, because the gallery is hosting a book launch on the Nakba.

Regev has asked Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit ‘to advance legislation that would enable us to cease supporting once and for all cultural institutions that use their public spaces to provide a platform for relentless subversion against our very existence, symbols and values’.

The event in question will launch a new book “Nakba in Hebrew – A Political Journey” by Eitan Bronstein Aparicio and Eléonore Marza Bronstein, which focuses on the work of Zochrot, the Israeli organisation supporting Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

In her letter to Mandelblit, Regev said she had discussed the event with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and that they would seek a court injunction against it. The Jerusalem municipality confirmed to Haaretz that ‘at the instruction of the mayor, the city plans to ask the court to issue an urgent injunction against the holding of the event’. (As Eitan Bronstein Aparico explained to Mondoweiss, the injunction failed.)

According to Regev, the Barbur Gallery has been repeatedly guilty of “subversive activity” and of promoting ‘ceaseless pro-Palestinian provocations” that “seek to subvert the state’s existence and nurture fairy tales about the Nakba’.

The Barbur Gallery stated in response: “We are hosting a book launch as part of our regular cultural activity. We are not doing anything illegal, as Minister Regev herself acknowledges. Our role also is to present positions that are outside of the consensus”.

Daniel Barenboim: Israel is an Apartheid state

On 19th July the Knesset approved the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law that authoritatively defines the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, responded with a statement:

‘The Jewish Nation-State Law features key elements of apartheid, which is not only immoral but also absolutely prohibited under international law. The new law constitutionally enshrines the identity of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people only – despite the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of the state and residents of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – and guarantees the exclusive ethnic-religious character of Israel as Jewish. By defining sovereignty and democratic self-rule as belonging solely to the Jewish people – wherever they live around the world – Israel has made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favouring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of its institutions.’

The musician Daniel Barenboim is a citizen of Israel, as well as of Palestine. Following the passing of the Basic Law, he wrote in the Guardian.

‘I gave a speech at the Knesset in 2004 in which I spoke about the declaration of independence of the state of Israel. I called it a ‘source of inspiration to believe in ideals that transformed us from Jews to Israelis.

‘I went on to say that this remarkable document had expressed the commitment that ‘the State of Israel will devote itself to the development of this country for the benefit of all its people … it will grant full equal, social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of religious faith, race or sex…

‘Seventy years on, the Israeli government has just passed a law that replaces the principle of equality and universal values with nationalism and racism… We have a law that confirms the Arab population as second-class citizens. It follows that this is a very clear form of apartheid. I don’t think the Jewish people lived for twenty centuries, mostly through persecution and enduring endless cruelties, in order to become oppressors. This new law does exactly that. Therefore, I am ashamed of being an Israeli today.’

Palestinians do not share Barenboim’s view of the past: Adalah’s Hassan Jabareen sees the law as ‘affirming practices that have been in place since 1948’. But about his diagnosis of the present they agree – the Basic Law exemplifies apartheid.

The Jewish Chronicle reports (12th August) that tens of thousands of Arab Israelis have protested against the new law, in Tel Aviv. Echoing Barenboim, and Adalah, they chanted ‘Apartheid will not pass’ in Hebrew and Arabic.

Artists in opposition to Israel’s policies

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee has published ‘Top 70 Moments for solidarity and BDS in 2018’. The list indicates how rapidly criticism of Israel and support for Palestine is growing among cultural workers, especially following the fresh attacks on Palestinians since March this year in Gaza.

Extracts from the list:

Shakira cancels her July concert in Tel Aviv, following a campaign involving Lebanese, Colombian, US, Palestinian, Israeli and other boycott activists.
Grammy-nominated star Natalia Oreiro cancels her concert in Israel, following appeals from Argentine and Uruguayan groups as well as Ahed Tamimi’s father and Palestinian and Israeli women’s groups.

Over 500 Latin American artists endorse the cultural boycott of Israel until it “respects the comprehensive rights of the Palestinian people under international law.”

Natalie Portman publicly refuses to travel to Israel for the Israeli Genesis Prize, which is directly connected to the Israeli prime minister’s office, leading the entire ceremony to be cancelled. Portman’s representatives wrote on April 2: “We have followed the recent news from Gaza with growing worry, and we are concerned that it is not appropriate to hold a ceremony given the government’s actions and the latest escalation.”

Dozens of bands, mostly in the UK, join the cultural boycott of Israel following Israel’s May 14, 2018 massacre in Gaza.

Tiago Rodrigues, the director of Portugal’s national theatre, cancels his participation in an Israeli festival and joins the cultural boycott of Israel, becoming the first director of a national theatre in Europe to ever do so.

The Dublin Lord Mayor and Irish Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan call for a boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, to be hosted by Israel, in solidarity with Palestinians.

Over 25,000 Icelanders —almost 8% of the entire population—sign a petition to boycott Eurovision 2019.

11 artists and directors withdraw from Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival.

Gilberto Gil, a legendary Brazilian musician and cultural hero, cancels his July 4 performance in Tel Aviv.

Jean-Luc Godard and 80 other artists in France issue a joint letter refusing to participate in the France-Israel Cultural Season 2018, a joint cultural initiative sponsored by both the French and Israeli governments.

Six artists withdraw from the Israeli embassy-sponsored Pop-Kultur music festival in Berlin. World-renowned musician Brian Eno condemns this collaboration in a video interview. The UK band Shopping, singer-songwriter Richard Dawson, Welsh musician Gwenno and American artist John Maus were the first to withdraw from this year’s festival. Two Jewish groups in Germany also said they would boycott Pop-Kultur as long as it crosses the BDS picket line.

American rappers Tyga and Fat Joe cancel their performances in Israel.

British author Kamila Shamsie respects Palestinian BDS picket line and refuses to publish in Israel, citing the lack of an Israeli publisher “who is completely untangled from the state” and its violations of Palestinian rights.

Patti Smith, Massive Attack, Viggo Mortensen among 70+ artists demanding free speech on Palestine

Artists for Palestine UK is publishing (below) a longer version of the open letter published in tomorrow’s print edition of the Guardian, with the full list of signatories.

The statement responds to news that the award-winning band Young Fathers were invited, disinvited and re-invited to the Ruhrtriennale arts festival in Germany, following demands that they renounce their support for the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestinian rights. The band refused, and re-affirmed their support for human rights principles. Now, 79 artists, writers and producers from all fields of the arts in the UK, the US, Germany and beyond, plus public figures including Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis, speak out about what they say is an “alarming form of censorship, “blacklisting” and repression”.


No Palestine Exception to Freedom of Speech[1]

We, the undersigned artists, writers and public figures, are disturbed by attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists supporting Palestinian human rights. We are glad that the international outcry has convinced the Ruhrtriennale arts festival to reverse its repressive decision to cancel a performance by Young Fathers, after they refused to distance themselves from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Ruhrtriennale’s earlier decision was a particularly alarming form of censorship, “blacklisting” and repression.

We welcome the stance of another German festival, Morgenland, in resisting a similar attempt to suppress free speech.

We stand firmly against all forms of racism and identity-based discrimination, including anti-Blackness, sexism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and homophobia. Conflating nonviolent measures to end Israel’s illegal occupation and human rights violations with anti-Jewish racism is false and dangerous. It denies Palestinians their right to peaceful protest in pursuit of freedom, justice and equality and undermines the struggle against antisemitism.

While we may hold diverse views on the Palestinian-led BDS movement, we are united in considering it a lawful exercise of freedom of expression. Boycotts which are anchored in universal human rights and aimed at achieving justice for marginalized and oppressed communities are a legitimate nonviolent tactic. They have been used worldwide, including against apartheid in South Africa and the Jim Crow segregation laws in the United States.

In affirming this position, we are in agreement with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the European Union, several European governments, hundreds of European legal scholars, international progressive Jewish organizations and figures, more than two hundred U.S. rabbis and hundreds of European NGOs.

At a time when far right and xenophobic forces are gaining ground, we need to be more vigilant than ever in defending and advocating democratic values, including freedom of conscience and expression.

Signed:

Mai Abu ElDahab,  Director, Mophradat

Tunde Adebimpe,  Musician

Antonia Alampi,   Artistic co-director, SAVVY Contemporary

Nir Alon,  Artist

Julia Aranda,  Artist

Mohammed Bakri,  Actor

Saleh Bakri,  Actor

Jeff Barrett,  Founder, Heavenly Recordings

Avi Berg, Artist

Yves Berger, artist

Judith Butler,  Philosopher

David Calder,  Actor

Noam Chomsky,  Linguist, philosopher

Julie Christie,  Actor

Caryl Churchill,  Playwright

Jarvis Cocker,  Musician

Molly Crabapple,  Artist, writer

Liam Cunningham,  Actor

Angela Davis,  Political activist, academic

Laurence Dreyfus, Director, Phantasm viol consort

Tania El Khoury,  Artist

Brian Eno  Composer, producer

Reem Fadda,  Curator

David Farr,  Writer, director

Chiara Figone,  Archive Books/Kabinett/Journal

Marina Fokidis,  Curator, writer

Rebecca Foon, Musician

Peter Gabriel,  Musician, founder, WOMAD Festival

Dani Gal,  Artist

Danny Glover, Actor

Carl Gosling,  Heavenly Recordings

Ian Ilavsky,  Co-founder, Constellation Records

Iman Issa,  Artist

Ghada Karmi,  Writer, academic

Aki Kaurismaki,  Film director

A.L. Kennedy,  Writer

Naomi Klein,  Writer

Judith Knight,  Co-director, Artsadmin

Hari Kunzru,  Writer

Paul Laverty,  Screenwriter

Mike Leigh,  Writer, director

Mason Leaver-Yap, Associate Curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Ken Loach,  Film director

Jens Maier-Rothe,  Curator

Jumana Manna,  Artist

Miriam Margolyes,  Actor

Yann Martel, Author

Massive Attack,  Band

Thurston Moore,  Musician

David Morrissey,  Actor

Nicholas Mirzoeff,  Cultural theorist

Danny Mitchell,  Heavenly Recordings

Leil Zahra Mortada,  Filmmaker

Viggo Mortensen,  Actor, writer, artist

Karma Nabulsi,  Professor of Politics

Mira Nair,  Film director

Bonaventure Ndikung, Founder, Savvy Contemporary

Paul Northup, Director, Greenbelt Festival

Rebecca O’Brien,  Film Producer

Ilan Pappe,  Historian

Jocelyn Pook,  Composer

Cat Power, Musician

Jeremie Pujau,  Artist

Fanny-Michaela Reisin,  President, International League for Human Rights

Michael Rosen,  Children’s poet, broadcaster

Eran Schaerf,  Artist

James Schamus,  Screenwriter, producer, director

Eyal Sivan,  Documentary filmmaker

Harry Leslie Smith, Writer

John Smith,  Artist, filmmaker

Patti Smith,  Musician, poet

Jesse Smith, Musician, activist

Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

Alice Walker,  Writer

Roger Waters,  Musician

Eyal Weizman,  Architect

Vivienne Westwood,  Designer

Don Wilkie,  Co-founder, Constellation Records

Tim Wilson,  Founder, VAULT Festival

Tim Wise,  Writer

[1] https://ccrjustice.org/the-palestine-exception

Young Fathers affirm support for Palestinian rights despite cancellation by German arts festival

Ruhrtriennale arts festival in Germany have asked Mercury Prize-winning Young Fathers to declare themselves non-supporters of the Palestinian-led BDS movement for human rights, as a condition of appearing at the festival later this summer. In a statement on June 12, the festival announced the cancellation of the UK group’s concert, saying:

Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. (…) The Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert.

Today, Young Fathers have asked Artists for Palestine UK to publish the following statement :

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Film-makers call on cinemas to reject Israel-sponsored festival

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.
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Artswatch Palestine: October – December 2017

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.

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Artists to Lorde: individual messages of support

On 5 January 2018, more than a hundred international artists signed a letter to the Guardian in the UK in support of New Zealand singer Lorde’s decision to cancel her gig in Tel Aviv later this year.
Since then, some of those signatories have given APUK permission to publish the personal letters they’ve also written to Lorde.   We’re happy to share, amongst others, Brian Eno’s and Roger Waters’ moving expressions of solidarity and support, while Peter Gabriel’s message affirms the need for artists to stand up for human rights.  We’re also reproducing below some of the many messages artists have posted in support of Lorde on social media or via this site.

 

Brian Eno, musician

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Artists’ statements on Trump and occupied Jerusalem

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.

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Israel’s apartheid regime salutes Nick Cave

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

Leading writers respond to Nick Cave

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. 

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Artswatch Palestine: August-September 2017

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’.

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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’.

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Artists slam Israel’s planned occupation of London’s Roundhouse

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

The naked face of Israel – Ilan Pappé on rebranding Zionism

 

In 2007, Wonderwoman star Gal Gadot was poster girl for a new Israeli branding campaign.
Credit: Maxim

In 2007 a poster of an almost naked Miss Israel, Gal Gadot, and a poster of four fit young men, equally barely dressed, were the faces of Israel in a campaign named Brand Israel, commissioned by the government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The young woman (Miss Israel 2004 and a recent star in the Hollywood blockbuster Fast and Furious) was meant to attract the heterosexual young American to a rebranded Jewish State, while the young men became the faces advertising Tel Aviv as the gay capital of Israel. One wonders how Theodore Herzl or even David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin would have regarded this presentation of Zionism as a soft-porn wet dream. But policymakers had decided that anything and everything was appropriate in the struggle to fend off Israel’s negative image.

This passage appears in the Epilogue  to “The Idea of Israel” by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, published in 2014 with the subtitle “A History of Power and Knowledge”.   A “mordantly witty book” (Jewish Quarterly), it shows how Zionism operates outside of the government and military in areas such as Israel’s literature, education system, media and cinema. Pappé reveals how successive generations of intellectuals have framed the 1948 conflict as a liberation campaign, creating a foundation myth that went unchallenged in Israeli society until very recently. Its perpetuation is the goal of a “Brand Israel” campaign which continues to this day.

Prof. Pappé has kindly made his Epilogue, which focuses on Brand Israel, available to supporters of the boycott movement which seeks to unmask and challenge the weaponisation of culture in Israel’s war against Palestinians.

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Open Letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews

London, 30 August 2017

Dear Gillian Merron,

What are we to make of the UK’s main Jewish organisation calling for the Barbican to remove a video artwork from a science-fiction themed exhibition?

Apparently you had not seen ‘In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain’, the video installation by Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and Danish author Søren Lind, when you chose to write to the Barbican to demand its removal.

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Artswatch Palestine: June-July 2017

Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
[Pictured: Palestinian-American rapper and video-maker, Abu Rahss]

HOW ISRAEL MAINTAINS A FREE AND THRIVING PRESS

In May 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2222, on the protection of journalists in conflict situations. The resolution ‘condemned all violations and abuses committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict’.

During the debate on the resolution, Israel’s delegate, David Roet, spoke in praise of his country, ‘a model for how a democratic nation, even while facing immense challenges could maintain a free and thriving press’.

In a statement released on Friday 28th July, the NGO Reporters sans Frontières condemned Israeli forces for using ‘intimidation, denial of access, violence and arrests to limit or prevent media coverage of the demonstrations and clashes sparked by the introduction of additional security measures around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem’

In a statement released on 31st July, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned a pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces on the headquarters of the media production company Palmedia. They ransacked Palmedia’s offices, and destroyed equipment.

In a statement released on 6th August, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Israel’s decision, announced by Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, to close Al-Jazeera’s offices in Israel, revoke the credentials of its journalists and censor its transmissions.

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Israeli cultural whitewash fails to impress at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

For the second August in a row, advocates for Israel have used Edinburgh’s huge annual cultural gathering as cover for an attempt to whitewash the state’s decades of oppression and racist discrimination against Palestinians.

Under the rubric of coexistence and cultural cooperation, this year’s International Shalom Festival, staged over three days at a community secondary school, sought to avoid the opprobrium heaped upon its blatantly propagandistic 2016 incarnation.

Last year the event’s organisers, known for working with the Israeli Embassy to undermine and oppose campaigning work in support of Palestinian rights, proudly proclaimed it as a major “Israel advocacy” initiative. This year the same groups – the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) and StandWithUs – have tried to entice audiences with a vision of Israel as a haven of tolerance and harmony offering “real examples of coexistence”.

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Ken Loach has nothing to apologise for

UPDATE:
Statement from Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien 18.07.2017
Award-Winning Filmmaker Ken Loach Donates Film Screening Proceeds to BDS Movement 05.10.2017

 

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?

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Artswatch Palestine: April-May 2017

‘Artswatch’ is a regular digest that monitors attacks on Palestinian cultural life, creative resistance, and cultural interventions in Israel-Palestine. In this edition:
* Pinkwashing rejected
* The trial of Dareen Tatour
* The detention of Abu Sakha
* The banning of International Women’s Day
* A war of aggression on Amazon
* Ten years of PalFest
* On the red carpet in Gaza
* Regev’s dress at Cannes

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Artswatch Palestine: February-March 2017

Introduction
‘Artswatch’ is a regular digest that monitors attacks on Palestinian cultural life. Such attacks are a constant and shocking part of  a long-term campaign that attempts to undermine Palestinian collective identity and resilience. The pattern of this systemic abuse is overlooked by the mainstream media,  yet is testimony to the fact that  ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘free cultural exchange’ are privileges that have never been extended to Palestinians by Israel. This fact demands an urgent response from international artists in particular.

[Photo: T Suárez. Palestine Philharmonie: Amandine Beyer demonstrating a phrase to (left to right) Lamar Elias, Carol Ibrahim, Gandhi Saad, and Lourdina Baboun. ]

raiding jenin

Rania Wasfi, program coordinator at The Freedom Theatre, whose home was turned over by the army.

The Jenin Freedom Theatre website reported on 27th March a raid by Israeli soldiers on the home of its co-ordinator, Rania Wasfi.

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