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.

Solidarity with Tatour is growing. PEN America has made her a ‘featured case’: her trial, in which the state seeks to prove that her work incites terrorism, ‘not only threatens principles of free expression for Palestinian authors, but [is] an attempt by the Israeli government to litigate the meaning of a piece of literature’.

Some of Tatour’s work is collected in A Blade of Grass, an anthology of New Palestinian Poetry in Arabic and English, edited by Naomi Foyle, ‘poems that bear witness both to catastrophe, and to the powerful determination to survive it’. Also represented is the work of Saudi prisoner Ashraf Fayadh, who like Tatour has faced legal penalty as a result of his poetry (see Artswatch June and July 2016).

Regev in Hebron

 On 24th December, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev laid the cornerstone of a ‘Founder’s Museum’ in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. According to Eliran Aharon in Israeli National News, Regev used the occasion to deny the existence of Palestinian culture and history. ‘The more you dig here,’ she said, ‘the more you find that there is no Palestinian history … and no connection [between the land] and the Palestinian Arab people.’ ‘This land, ‘ Regev explained, has a connection with only one people – the Jewish people – and therefore we will stay here forever.’

Hebron has a population of over 200,000 Palestinians and between 500 and 850 Jewish settlers. In the centre of the city, reports the human rights organisation Btselem, ‘Palestinians are subjected to extreme movement restrictions and hundreds of businesses have been shut down’. Violence by settlers and security forces, ‘has made life intolerable for Palestinians, leading to a mass exodus and the economic ruin of the downtown area. Israeli authorities are promoting ‘the driving out of Palestinians from Hebron’s city centre’.

Erasing Lydda

 In the Nakba of 1948, 49,000 of Lydda’s 50,000 inhabitants were forcibly expelled from the city by Israeli forces. The buildings have remained, until now.

Nir Hasson reports in Ha’aretz (6th November) that renovation/demolition work in Lydda (Lod, al-Ludd) threatens to erase its Arab past. Most of the structures from pre-1948 Lydda were built after 1700, with some being built on the foundations of older buildings. Protestors say the Israeli Antiquities Authority didn’t check each structure to see if this was the case before it was demolished.

In Hasson’s report rapper, political activist and Lod resident Tamer Nafar calls the move ‘another blow to my Arab and Islamic heritage. Lod is made up of all kinds of people, a tapestry of colours. Rather than letting it be composed of all the colours, some of these colours are being erased.’

‘This is part and parcel of the exclusion of Arabs from the public space,’ said another Lod activist Ghassan Munair. ‘We’re in favour of development, but it’s known that Lod is built atop the city underneath. If they would have found the tailbone of a Jewish dog, they would have halted everything,” he added. ‘The city is counting on the people here not protesting because they’re too busy just trying to put food on the table.’

The State against Memory

Zochrot (‘remembering’ in Hebrew) is an Israeli NGO that has worked since 2002 ‘to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba’. In December, it organised its fifth international film festival, From Nakba to Return, hosted at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the Left Bank Cine club. The Middle East Monitor (17th November) reported that Culture Minister Regev ‘has asked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to see if the Cinematheque can be fined for its part in the film festival. “While Israel is celebrating 70 years, the [Tel Aviv] Cinematheque State is trying to remember and sanctify the Nakba. Not on my watch,” said Regev.

The outcome of the threat to the Cinematheque is not known.

Olga Gershenson, writing in Tikkun, reviewed one of the festival films, Looted and Hidden, by Israeli curator and art historian Rona Sela. ‘It’s super-dense with images and stories’ writes Gershenson, ‘but basically, it’s about several Palestinian photo and film archives, that were stolen by Israelis in 1948, in 1967, and in 1982, from PLO research centre and from a Cinema Center in Beirut. The good thing is that the audience gets to see tons of these documents–family photos, studio portraits, battle snapshots, pictures of atrocities, etc, along with snippets of narrative films, army reports, news footage, and even an excerpt from a Soviet anti-Zionist documentary. This plenitude is both a blessing and a curse–a curse because in 45 minutes, it’s impossible to contextualize all these still and moving images, tell what’s behind them, AND let them speak on their own terms. It took Rona Sela, a Jewish Israeli with a stubborn mind and legal assistance, over 10 years to even get access to these visual documents. All of them are locked up in the Israeli archives, with absolutely no hope for them to ever be open, especially in the current political climate. What a paradox it is, that it takes an Israeli to recover the hidden visual history of Palestinians–a Palestinian, obviously, would not stand a chance in the tightly censored IDF archives’.

The First Steps to Liberty

 The Palestinian artist Abdul Rahman Katanani has a major exhibition in Paris (December 17-January 18). Katanani was born in 1983 in the refugee camp of Sabra, a few months after the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

The central installation in the exhibition, says the Magda Danysz Gallery, ‘is a scale 1 refugee camp street, an interactive piece entirely made with recycled material. The viewer can enter inside and wander. He is then reflected dozens of times by the mirrors lining the passage, giving the impression of being multiplied and cramped in the structure. A surveillance video [of the viewer’s movements]  is projected in the basement of the gallery, in black and white and in slow motion, a “co-wandering” in the work. In black and white: there are no colors in the camp. In slow motion: the image, ghostly and stretched, evolves to be lost in a forest somewhere in the depths of space.’

Marie-Laure Desjardins has written about the exhibition, and interviewed Katanani. His work, she writes, ‘immerses us in the architecture of his childhood, that of the refugee camp where he was born, in Sabra, Beirut, Lebanon.

– What kind of child were you?

– I was a child who played a lot. I remember lots of games. Shouting. We used to have fun. It’s the first stage on the road to freedom.

– Freedom? What idea can you have of freedom when you are born in a camp? Is that the only thing you thought about? Necessity must have been elsewhere?

– The main thing was to eat, to look after yourself. Our lives were blocked off. There was no possibility of work.

Since his adolescence, Abdul Rahman Katanani has been a committed, an engaged artist. In pencil he draws caricatures and posts them on a wall in the camp. He’s discovered in this resistance a way of expressing his ideas, of existing. To talk of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is to touch on a difficult subject: it’s almost taboo. But art can speak where silence rules: ‘I was drawing to change things. Always against the occupation, against corruption, against borders.’

Intimate Spaces: Rana Samara

 Naima Morelli, in Middle East Monitor (17th December) writes about the art of the Palestinian artist Rana Samara. Working in Al-Amari Refugee Camp, Samara’s topic is intimacy: love and sex, and also ‘connection, comfort and feeling at home’.

Samara’s ‘Intimate Space’ series, was presented recently by Ramallah’s Zawyeh Gallery, and she has continued to work around that theme.’All the artists are talking about the political struggle in Palestine,’ says Samara.; I’m doing that too, but through a different lens’. Her paintings, videos, installations and embroidery evoke human relations in a society of confinement – in ‘condensed spaces that afford almost no privacy’.

Seeds

 Bozour Culture and Arts is a theatre group in Gaza, created after the Israeli attack of 2014 and led by three women – Wissam El-Dirawie, Manal Barakat and Ola Salem Deeb. ‘We had collected women’s stories from the war,’ co-director Manal Barakat explained to Rami Almaghari in Electronic Intifada, ‘and we wanted to present them to the outside world.’ Prevented from travelling to perform in Ramallah, on the West Bank, the women decided to create their own company in Gaza. Bozour means ‘seeds’.

Their first production, Gaza will become a Better Place, is a play that depicts Gaza as a place from which young people want – desperately – to leave and are willing to risk drowning at sea to do so.  ‘Ultimately’, writes Almaghari, ‘the play suggests that there is reason to stay.’

Radiance of Resistance

 Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reports that the 16 year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi will be brought before a military court on 15th January, the latest of over 450 Palestinians arrested by Israeli occupation forces following Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Approximately half of those detained are children.

Ahed’s father, Bassem, has written in Ha’aretz (31st December), about his daughter:

‘Several months ago, on a trip to South Africa, we screened for an audience a video [Radiance of Resistance] documenting the struggle of our village, Nabi Saleh, against Israel’s forced rule. When the lights came back on, Ahed stood up to thank the people for their support. When she noticed that some of the audience members had tears in their eyes, she said to them : “We may be victims of the Israeli regime, but we are just as proud of our choice to fight for our cause, despite the known cost. We knew where this path would lead us, but our identity, as a people and as individuals, is planted in the struggle, and draws its inspiration from there. Beyond the suffering and daily oppression of the prisoners, the wounded and the killed, we also know the tremendous power that comes from belonging to a resistance movement ; the dedication, the love, the small sublime moments that come from the choice to shatter the invisible walls of passivity.

“I don’t want to be perceived as a victim, and I won’t give their actions the power to define who I am and what I’ll be. I choose to decide for myself how you will see me. We don’t want you to support us because of some photogenic tears, but because we chose the struggle and our struggle is just. This is the only way that we’ll be able to stop crying one day.’

 [Photo by Tania Traboulsi: Abdul Rahman Katanani, artist, in his studio]

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

 


 

Roger Waters, musician

Dear Lorde,
As Ken Loach has ​expressed, “You either stand with the oppressed or you stand with the oppressor.” There is no middle ground. To your great credit, Lorde, you have chosen to stand with the oppressed. You are a brave woman, it is not an easy path to take​, but you set an example for others who are afraid to speak out. You give a voice to the voiceless.
We welcome you and thank you.
Love R.

 

 



Peter Gabriel, musician

 


 

John Cusack, actor

 

Ken Loach, director

 


 

 

Michael Moore, director

 

Thurston Moore, musician

 

William Dalrymple, writer

 

Graham Linehan, comedy writer and director

 

Neil Finn, musician

 

Lily Allen, musician

 

Reverend and the Makers, band

 

Caroline Bergvall, writer and artist

I am really shocked by the bullish reaction by political powers to Lorde’s decision not to perform in Israel later this year.

I stand with her and with fellow artists in protecting our right to speak out and for Lorde to reach her own decisions of conscience even if this means such a public cancellation.

I’m certain many of her fans in Israel will understand and support her move. It is a move of friendship and inclusivity for a bigger world.

 


 

Naomi Wallace, playwright, screenwriter

Lorde has made a brave choice for justice and freedom. It is a typical tactic of those who oppose Palestinian civil rights to attempt to smear such courage with charges of anti-semitism.  The purpose is to send out a warning to other artists not to speak out against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.  These forces of reaction will not succeed.  Let us follow Lorde’s example.  Let all artists of conscience heed the call by the Movement for Black Lives to endorse the BDS movement.


 

Nabil Shaban, actor and director

Why should Lorde be made to perform for Israel.  If she were to refuse to perform for Putin or Kim in North Korea, she would be praised as an international hero, worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, but because the USA establishment supports and funds Israel’s special brand of apartheid, she is demonised. This is wrong.


 

Eric Boehlert, music journalist

 

Fatima Bhutto, writer

 

Shaun King, writer

 

Tim London, producer

 

Scot Williams, actor

 

Rebecca Vilkomerson, human rights defender 

 

Noura Erekat, human rights defender

 

Hind Awwad, human rights defender

 

 

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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‘Dear Rabbi Sacks – stop your lies about BDS’

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Immediate Threat to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech

Pictured: Jo Johnson MP, minister for Universities, suggested they seek to ban Israel Apartheid Week

On February 27, a letter signed by 243 academics appeared in the Guardian (copied below) condemning “outrageous interferences with free expression” and “direct attacks on academic freedom” resulting from attempts “to silence campus discussion about Israel, including its violation of the rights of Palestinians for more than 50 years.”

The letter attributed these developments to adoption by the UK government of “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism” which is being interpreted as meaning that criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights is prima facie evidence of antisemitism.

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Anish Kapoor gifts Israel a PR coup

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”.

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ARTSWATCH December 2016 – January 2017

Regev Watch

Miri Regev, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, has commented , 27th December, on the change of presidency in the United States:   ‘Obama is history,’ said Regev. ‘We have Trump.’

Christian Viveros-Fauné, writing in Artnet, suggests that ‘like Trump, the Likud politician consistently engages in a brazen, counter-factual brand of right-wing populism’.  Viveros-Fauné charts the growing scope of Regev’s ‘war against culture’ noting inter alia that:

‘At least one major institution, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, has already found itself in the crossfire. As reported in February 2016 by Shany Littman at Haaretz, its director and chief curator Suzanne Landau recently “called off an exhibit by Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei and Israeli photographer Miki Kratsman because of political pressures.” Kratsman’s contribution to the show, which was scheduled to open in November 2016, consisted of a Harvard University-funded series of 3,000 portraits of Palestinians he met on his travels to the Occupied Territories. Many of the photographer’s portrait subjects have since been killed in clashes with Israeli Defense Forces. When [the reporter] reached Landau for comment, the curator cited “scheduling problems.”’

Habima and Ashtar: tales from two theatres Continue reading

One Hundred Years and Counting: Britain, Balfour, and the Cultural Repression of Palestinians

by Aimée Shalan
 

First published by Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, this illuminating report looks at the repression of Palestinian cultural expression by Israel and collusion and censorship here in the UK by British government ministers. It traces this relationship all the way back to the wording of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The briefing offers an essential perspective for understanding Israel’s attempts to erase the Palestinian past and future, and proposes practical steps groups such as ours can take here in the UK to end the silencing of Palestinian voices and perspectives.

 

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