Mohamed Jabaly, director of the acclaimed film 'Ambulance' (2016)

Call for support for ‘Ambulance’ director Mohamed Jabaly

ARTISTS FOR PALESTINE UK STATEMENT

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and the Norwegian Immigration Tribunal have refused to grant Palestinian film-maker Mohamed Jabaly a work visa to allow him to tour with his first film, Ambulance (2016), and to make a second film with his Norwegian producers, in Tromsø, Norway. Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) is shocked at this decision, calls on the Norwegian government to rescind it, and invites others to join in this call.

The reason given for this official refusal is that Jabaly is “not qualified” as a film-maker. This is not a judgement that those who have seen his electrifying film Ambulance could possibly agree with. The film critic, Allan Hunter, wrote in the UK/US journal Screen Daily in June 2016, ahead of the world premiere of Ambulance at the Sheffield Documentary Festival in the UK, that the film is:“filled with images of chaos, hysteria and human tragedy that are already familiar from the TV coverage. What distinguishes Ambulance […] is the way that Jabaly’s footage […] creates a wider, more thoughtful portrait of a city under siege and becomes a fascinating testimonial to personal and collective resilience. The film should be guaranteed further festival exposure,, with strong possibilities for TV and cable sales.” That is the great co-operative achievement of Jabaly and his Norwegian producers and other crew members.

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The refusal from Norway of a second work visa for Jabaly is a great disappointment to many of us in the UK, as Norway is a country that we have always looked up to for its measured humanitarian attitude.

All Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers need the support of the international community because, on every level, their freedom of expression is constantly curtailed or, worse, denied by actions of the Israeli government. Despite these obstacles the Norwegian producers of Ambulance made it possible for the film to be made; and various international film festivals have made it possible for the film to be shown and seen. We urge the Norwegan authorities to reconsider their decision.

We stand with the Ambulance team and the Norwegian cultural organisations (the Norwegian Filmworkers’ Union, the Norwegian Film Producers’ Association, the North Norwegian Film Centre, Tromsø Kommune and others), who rightly see the refusal of Jabaly’s work visa as an attack on their own cultural work and freedom of expression; and we urge UK cultural workers to join them and to read and sign the petition   Contact the author of the petition

Artists for Palestine UK organising collective , 28.12.2016.

* Following its UK premiere at Sheffield Documentary  Festival, ‘Ambulance’ was screened at London’s Bertha DocHouse at Curzon Bloomsbury from  26th August to 15th September 2016

Mohammed Abu Sakha, circus trainer

Mohammad Abu Sakha: in prison for making children happy

***UPDATE Amnesty International briefing:
END ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION OF CIRCUS PERFORMER.
“…Amnesty International fears that the Israeli authorities – as they have done in many other such cases – are using administrative detention as a method of punishing Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha without prosecuting him, which would amount to arbitrary detention. Israel’s use of administrative detention itself may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, given the detainee’s inability to know why they are being detained or when they will be released.” 14.12.2016


On December 12th, at a hearing that he was not permitted to attend , the Administrative detention of 24 year-old Palestinian circus trainer and performer Mohammad Abu Sakha (pictured, on  left) was renewed for an additional 6 months. Abu Sakha has been imprisonment in Israeli jails without charge or trial for a year. The following article first appeared in Open Democracy on December 9th 2016, a few days before the court hearing.

by HANNAH PRYTHERCH

One year after he was arrested by Israeli forces, Palestinian circus teacher Mohammad Abu Sakha  is still behind bars, and without charges.

I have a sense of deja-vu. One year ago, when I spent the Christmas period desperately contacting news agencies, begging them to publish a story about a friend of mine, Mohammad Abu Sakha, who had been arrested without charge, I didn’t expect that come December 2016, I would be sitting here in the same place, doing it all over again. I guess I was naïve then. I thought that others, if only they knew, would share my outrage at this injustice. And collective outrage would spark change. So all I needed to do was tell people, shine a light on the situation and it would change. A year on, I’ve learned a lot about the way in which power, politics and the personal psyche work together to facilitate and maintain social injustice. Continue reading

Palestinian musician Wasif Jawhariyyeh, born in Ottoman Jerusalem in 1897, died in exile in Beirut in 1972. (Photo from the memoir 'The Storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-1948' eds. Salim Tamari and Issam Nassa.)

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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Artists appeal to the Chemical Brothers

Artists appeal to the Chemical Brothers: Please don’t play Tel Aviv

  • UPDATES:
  • 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)

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Artists as ‘ambassadors’ for NGOs: on what terms?

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.

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Italian press reports opposition to state-sponsored Israeli dance performance, citing letter from Brian Eno

Batsheva Dance Company show in Jerusalem

Batsheva dancers in rehearsal in Jerusalem.                     Credit: EPA/ABIR SULTAN

 

UPDATE 11 Sept: Il Fatto Quotidiano today printed a full page interview with Eno.

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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.

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‘Beautiful resistance’ meets cynical culture-washing on Edinburgh Fringe

 

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Alrowwad singers. Picture by Phil Chetwynd

The Edinburgh Fringe’s renowned open platform for all forms of artistic expression produced a curious juxtaposition this year, as Palestinians deployed creativity to shatter the bonds of political repression while Israeli state apologists cloaked a discredited political message in threadbare cultural clothing.

The gulf between the two was demonstrated in the pages of Scotland’s press, the airwaves and in the streets, as well as in performance and display spaces across the city.

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Baaba Maal photo ©Oxfam

Baaba Maal yet to announce decision on going to Israel

Baaba and Gary YoungeUPDATE 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.

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Opposition mounts as Edinburgh Fringe marred by “pro-Israel advocacy event”

shalom fest logoThe 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.

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Boycott message reaches Baaba Maal: please don’t play Israel’s PR game

Baab Maal WOMAD by Paul Hellyer

Baaba Maal  on stage during WOMAD 2016 (Picture credit: Paul Hellyer)                                                        

“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.

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