Save the First Drama School in Palestine from Closure

Those who saw Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre’s production of Richard II at the Globe in 2012 will long remember it. Now Ashtar is faced with financial crisis. The theatre needs to raise £40,000 to keep its premises open. It has launched an appeal for funds. Ashtar’s reputation is global, and its work is aimed at creating international solidarities. Its ‘Gaza Monologues’ have brought the voices of Gaza’s children to audiences across the world. It recently launched the ‘Syrian Monologues’ to draw attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and to ‘fight the war machine that turns people to numbers and casualties’.  
 
At home, in the midst of occupation, and the constant threat to free expression and free movement, Ashtar has battled to find a space for theatre. As well as its professional performances, it provides training for theatre workers and drama teachers. It works in the refugee camps; it works in the underfunded schools of the Palestinian Authority.
 
APUK asks its supporters to help keep Ashtar Theatre alive. Culture is one of the sources of Palestinian endurance. The loss of Ashtar would encourage those who seek to wear that endurance away. Please don’t let this happen.
 
You can donate to the campaign to save Ashtar here.
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AN OPEN LETTER TO RADIOHEAD

London, April 24th  2017

Dear Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway,

You’re listed to play Tel Aviv in July this year.

We’d like to ask you to think again – because by playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people’.   

We understand you’ve been approached already by Palestinian campaigners. They’ve asked you to respect their call for a cultural boycott of Israel, and you’ve turned them down.   Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation. And since Radiohead fronted a gig for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we’re wondering why you’d ignore a call to stand against the denial of those rights when it comes to the Palestinians. 

Radiohead once issued a statement saying: ‘Without the work of organisations like Amnesty International, the Universal Declaration would be mere rhetoric’.   You’ve clearly read Amnesty’s reports, so you’ll know that Israel denies freedom to the Palestinians under occupation, who can’t live where they want, can’t travel as they please, who get detained (and often tortured) without charge or trial, and can’t even use Facebook without surveillance, censorship and arrest.  

In asking you not to perform in Israel, Palestinians have appealed to you to take one small step to help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law. Surely if making a stand against the politics of division, of discrimination and of hate means anything at all, it means standing against it everywhere – and that has to include what happens to Palestinians every day.   Otherwise the rest is, to use your words, ‘mere rhetoric’.

You may think that sharing the bill with Israeli musicians Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis, who play Jewish-Arabic music, will make everything OK.   It won’t, any more than ‘mixed’ performances in South Africa brought closer the end of the apartheid regime.  Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over. 

Yours,

Tunde Adebimpe, musician, TV on the Radio
Conrad Atkinson, artist
Richard Barrett, composer
David Calder, actor
Julie Christie, actor
Selma Dabbagh, writer
William Dalrymple, historian, writer and broadcaster
April De Angelis, playwright
Shane Dempsey, theatre director
Laurence Dreyfus, musician and director, Phantasm Viol Consort
Geoff Dyer, writer
Eve Ensler, playwright
Bella Freud, fashion designer
Douglas Hart, musician and director
Charles Hayward, musician
Remi Kanazi, performance poet
Peter Kennard, artist
Peter Kosminsky, writer/director/producer
Hari Kunzru, writer
Paul Laverty, screenwriter
Mike Leigh, writer/director
Ken Loach, director
Lowkey, musician
Miriam Margolyes, actor
Kika Markham, actor
Elli Medeiros, musician
Pauline Melville, writer and actor
Roger Michell, director
China Miéville, writer
Thurston Moore, musician
Maxine Peake, actor
Dave Randall, musician
Ian Rickson, director
Michael Rosen, writer and broadcaster
Alexei Sayle, comedian and writer
James Schamus, screenwriter, director and producer
Nick Seymour, musician, Crowded House
Adrian Sherwood, record producer
Juliet Stevenson, actor
Ricky Tomlinson, actor
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa
Alice Walker, writer
Harriet Walter, actor
Roger Waters, musician
Susan Wooldridge, actor and author
Robert Wyatt, musician
Young Fathers, musicians

[end of letter]


Statements by Thurston Moore, Robert Wyatt, Ken Loach, Peter Kosminsky:

Thurston Moore:
‘If any concerned, humanitarian-conscious activists employ a boycott to protest brutal injustice in their country and request artists and scholars to refrain from working and/or being promoted as supportive of the normalization of that country – then I choose NOT to cross that line and suggest to all to not be complicit. It is a small sacrifice in respect to those who struggle in honourable opposition to state-sponsored fascism.’

Robert Wyatt:
‘These international cultural events are of course great propaganda for this ruling regime’s desperately sophisticated image, fragrant camouflage for their relentlessly accelerating ethnic cleansing campaign in, for example, Jerusalem. Are you really comfortable with that?’

Ken Loach:
‘I do hope Radiohead, and Thom Yorke in particular, realise the damage they will be doing to the Palestinians if they perform in Tel Aviv.  The Palestinians’ land is being stolen, they are being oppressed in every way, their daily lives made intolerable, many are imprisoned unlawfully in Israel, including shockingly, their children.  I’m afraid your pious words will mean nothing if you turn your backs on the Palestinians.  For their sake, and your own self-respect, please think again.’

Peter Kosminsky:
‘Some years ago, I had the great honour and privilege to work with the scarily talented Thom Yorke and Radiohead, when they allowed me to use their music for a film I was making about bullying.  I’ve admired from afar their support for the Tibetans and for Amnesty International, and their championing of human rights.  So I’m puzzled and really saddened to hear that they plan to play in Israel later this year.  I would urge them not to do so.  With Trump in the White House, the situation for Palestinians has become tougher than ever. They’ve asked for a cultural boycott of Israel, just as campaigners for freedom asked artists not to perform in Sun City during the apartheid era.  I think we should assume they know what’s in their best interests and respect their wish, irrespective of other considerations.’

 

 

 

 

Artswatch 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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Eddie Izzard’s registration for Palestine Marathon this Friday sent back to him by organisers

British comedian Eddie Izzard holds a South African flag beneath a statue of former president Nelson Mandela at the government’s Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Izzard completed 27 marathons in 27 days for Sport Relief to remember the 27 years Mandela spent in prison in 2016. (AP Photo)

MEDIA: Eddie Izzard Misses Palestinian Marathon Following Backlash Over Tel Aviv Gig, Hollywood Reporter 31/3/2017
RELATED:  
Israel bans Gaza runners from Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem’ Middle East Monitor March 30, 2017
Palestinians run for right to free movement in Bethlehem marathon 31.03.2017
In a development saturated with political and emotional charge, South African runner Mervin Steenkamp came in first, for the second year in a row. Second-placed Thaer Shanaah is from Gaza, the densely populated coastal strip under blockade by Israel’.

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Fans ask Eddie Izzard – “Don’t support Apartheid Israel”

Eddie Izzard leaflet

Click image to download 2-sided PDF flyer

UK comedian Eddie Izzard is known for his opposition to apartheid South Africa. He played gigs for the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s. In 2016, as part of a charity fund-raising effort, he ran 27 marathons in 27 days to honour the 27 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison . And yet, despite pleas from fellow artists in the UK and Palestine, he is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on March 30, in breach of the Palestinian boycott which challenges Israel’s continuing Apartheid regime.

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Banksy Withdraws Invitation to Fatboy Slim to Perform at Walled Off Hotel

Banksy, artist turned hotelier, has responded to an appeal from Palestinians, and withdrawn an invitation to English DJ Fatboy Slim to perform at a street party outside the new Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem.

Fatboy Slim scheduled a Bethlehem appearance the day after his planned March 12 performance in Tel Aviv. Artists for Palestine UK (APUK), have appealed to the DJ to cancel his Israeli show.
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‘No one now regrets boycotting apartheid South Africa’

 UPDATE 09.03.2017 From Israeli Citizens: Radiohead, Please Don’t Play Tel-Aviv
Open letter from Israeli citizens to Radiohead : “We urge you to cancel your performances in Israel and not grant your seal of approval to Israel’s ongoing crimes and human rights violations.” 09.03.2017

London, 7 March 2017

Calls mount for Radiohead to cancel Israel gig 

  • Artists for Palestine UK joins growing appeal to Radiohead to cancel Israel gig
  • Palestinian artists say, ‘Stand with the oppressed,  as Brian Eno, Alice Walker and Roger Waters do’
  • Jewish Voice for Peace in South Florida, USA, says, ‘We urge you to cancel, as an inspiration to young people everywhere’

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK), whose Artists’ Pledge for Palestine has over 1200 signatories, called today for UK band Radiohead to cancel their concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for July 19.
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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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