Protect the Right to Boycott

In another attempt to stifle effective protest, the government will be bringing to Parliament new anti-boycott legislation in the coming months. With new laws put in place, it will become illegal for public bodies to use divestment and procurement bans against oppressive and corrupt regimes, or companies whose actions are destroying the planet.

As artists and cultural workers, and as citizens, we strongly affirm our collective commitment to boycott Israeli apartheid until Palestine is free, regardless of government legislation. This antidemocratic bill risks blocking campaigners from seeking accountability when institutions and corporations are involved in violations of international law. Artists for Palestine UK is proud to be one of more than 40 organisations which have come together in the Right to Boycott Campaign to oppose the government’s measures. Below is our Campaign’s founding statement. Please share it widely. 

Civil Society Statement

As a group of civil society organisations made up of trade unions, charities, NGOs, faith, climate justice, human rights, cultural, campaigning, and solidarity organisations, we advocate for the right of public bodies to decide not to purchase or procure from, or invest in companies involved in human rights abuse, abuse of workers’ rights, destruction of our planet, or any other harmful or illegal acts. We therefore oppose the government’s proposed law to stop public bodies from taking such actions. 

The government has indicated that a main intention of any legislation is to ensure that public bodies follow UK foreign policy in their purchasing, procurement, and investment decisions, particularly relating to Israel and Palestine. We are concerned that this would prevent public bodies from deciding not to invest in or procure from companies complicit in the violation of the rights of the Palestinian people. We affirm that it is the right of public bodies to do so, and in fact a responsibility to break ties with companies contributing to abuses of rights and violations of international law in occupied Palestine and anywhere else where such acts occur.

From bus boycotts against racial segregation to divestment from fossil fuel companies to arms embargoes against apartheid, boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns have been applied throughout history to put economic, cultural, or political pressure on a regime, institution, or company to force it to change abusive, discriminatory, or illegal policies. If passed, this law will stifle a wide range of campaigns concerned with the arms trade, climate justice, human rights, international law, and international solidarity with oppressed peoples struggling for justice. The proposed law presents a threat to freedom of expression, and the ability of public bodies and democratic institutions to spend, invest and trade ethically in line with international law and human rights.

We call on the UK government to immediately halt this bill, on opposition parties to oppose it and on civil society to mobilise in support of the right to boycott in the cause of justice.

Signatories

  • Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
  • Amos trust
  • Anti Apartheid Movement Archives Committee
  • Artists for Palestine UK
  • Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
  • British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
  • BRISMES Campaigns
  • British Palestinian Council
  • Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Communication Workers Union (CWU)
  • European Legal Support Centre
  • Friends of Birzeit University (FOBZU)
  • Free Speech on Israel
  • Friends of Al Aqsa
  • Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • Global Justice Now
  • Greenpeace UK
  • Institute of Race Relations
  • International Centre of Justice for Palestinians
  • Israeli Committee against House Demolitions UK
  • Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP)
  • Labour and Palestine
  • London Mining Network
  • Makan
  • Methodist Church in Britain
  • Movement for the Abolition of War
  • Muslim Association of Britain
  • National Education Union
  • National Union of Students
  • Netpol
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • People and Planet
  • Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
  • Quaker Roots
  • Quakers in Britain
  • Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union (RMT)
  • Sabeel-Kairos UK
  • SOS-UK (NUS climate campaign)
  • Stamp out Poverty
  • Transport Salaried Staffs Association Union (TSSA)
  • UNISON
  • Unite the Union
  • United Reformed Church
  • University and College Union (UCU)
  • War on Want

For more information, please see the campaign website: https://righttoboycott.org.uk

Artists’ Solidarity: against censorship, against dismissal, for Palestine.

Defend Alistair Hudson, Defend the Whitworth Gallery.

More than half of the artists participating in British Art Show 9 in Manchester have withdrawn in support of ‘political freedom and artistic expression in cultural institutions and universities across the UK’. Their letter is reproduced in full, below.

In Summer 2021 the Whitworth Gallery at Manchester University hosted Forensic Architecture’s Cloud Studies.  The show included a statement expressing horror at the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza and ‘honouring the courage of Palestinians’. This has been the focus of attacks from the lobby group ‘UK Lawyers for Israel’.  Because of their campaign, Alistair Hudson’s job as director of the Whitworth is now at risk from Manchester University, his employers. 

Artists, academics and cultural workers have made clear that they will not allow the new McCarthyism to take hold in universities and cultural institutions. Support is pouring in. Alongside the artists’ statement, nearly 100 academics at Manchester have called for their University to reinstate Alistair Hudson and apologise to the Whitworth. 

Readers can sign a petition in defence of Alistair Hudson, Director of the Whitworth Gallery, here.

  • Photo: Cooking Sections collective, from ‘What Is Above Is What Is Below’

Dear Nancy Rothwell, 

President and Vice Chancellor, University of Manchester, 

As artists participating in the British Art Show 9 which is due to tour to Manchester in May, we are outraged and appalled by the University of Manchester’s attempt to force Director Alistair Hudson to resign from The Whitworth after pressure from the UK Lawyers for Israel. The unfolding of events in response to the statement of solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle exhibited by Forensic Architecture during their exhibition ‘Cloud Studies’ at The Whitworth in 2021 is a direct attack on political freedom and artistic expression. 

We condemn the University’s capitulation to continued UKLFI pressure and demands, which sets a very dangerous precedent, particularly in the spaces we often work: cultural institutions, galleries and higher education. We stand in full support and solidarity with the entire Whitworth staff, who have made the institution an exemplar of a civic public space and a useful museum. We believe there is neither space for such actions nor possible engagement with the University and its platforms, especially when public expression is limited, and evidence for human rights violations is obscured. Truth needs to be made public, and cultural spaces have to remain open for difficult discussions.

Operating a museum that is useful to a varied host of communities does not come without conflict or discomfort. However a museum has to learn and practise these conflicts besides our, at times, differing opinions. Between our various artistic practices, we share values that strive for social justice. BAS 9 exhibition is structured around the curatorial framework of healing, care and reparative history; tactics of togetherness and imagining new futures, which is at odds with recent events. Our deep commitment to these themes under fear of censorship makes it impossible to continue our engagement with the University of Manchester given the current position of the institution.

​​In solidarity with the ongoing liberation struggle of Palestine and Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation; in support of political freedom, and artistic expression in cultural institutions and universities across the UK, as BAS 9 artists we have decided to pull our work out of the exhibition’s iteration in Manchester unless meaningful reparative measures are taken.

In solidarity,

Zach Blas

Kathrin Böhm

Maeve Brennan

James Bridle

Helen Cammock

Jamie Crewe

Mandy El-Sayegh

Mark Essen

Beatrice Gibson

Celia Hempton

Lawrence Lek

Ghislaine Leung 

Paul Maheke

Oscar Murillo

Uriel Orlow

Florence Peake

Heather Phillipson 

Joanna Piotrowska

Margaret Salmon

Hrair Sarkissian

Cooking Sections

Tai Shani

Alberta Whittle 

Rehana Zaman

Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, and Gael García Bernal among those supporting Emma Watson’s Palestine solidarity post  

They’re joined by Jim Jarmusch, Peter Capaldi, Harriet Walter, Viggo Mortensen, Maxine Peake, Asif Kapadia and many others.

Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Gael García Bernal, Jim Jarmusch, Peter Capaldi, Maxine Peake, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Coogan, Charles Dance and Harriet Walter are among the film professionals speaking out in support of Harry Potter actor Emma Watson.

Last week, Watson shared a post with the words ‘solidarity is a verb’ over an image that featured Palestinian flags. Widely praised, this message of solidarity also provoked the fury of Israeli officials. 

Now, more than forty figures from the world of film – including multi award-winning screenwriter and producer James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Oscar-nominated directors Asif Kapadia (Amy), Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay) and writer/producer Oren Moverman (The Messenger) – have endorsed Watson’s message. 

In a joint statement, the signatories, who include double Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake), actors Michael Malarkey (The Vampire Diaries) and Matt McGorry (Orange Is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder), and Emmy-winning production designer Gemma Jackson (Games of Thrones), say:

“We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law.” 

Citing recent reports on Israeli apartheid by Human Rights Watch and Israel’s leading human rights organisation, B’Tselem, the artists, including Watson’s Harry Potter co-stars Miriam Margolyes and Julie Christie, state:

“We recognize the underlying power imbalance between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the people under a system of military occupation and apartheid”.

The signatories, who also count Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky, and actors Liam Cunningham and Khalid Abdalla among them, reference the Israeli government’s forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes:

“We stand against ongoing Israeli attempts to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The actors, directors and others conclude by quoting the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” They add:

“Heeding Tutu’s moral appeal, we stand on the side of justice, freedom, and equal rights for all. This is the least we can do.”

Read the letter in full:

We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law. We oppose injustice anywhere in the world and stand with all those seeking an end to oppression.

We stand against ongoing Israeli attempts to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory.

We recognize the underlying power imbalance between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the people under a system of military occupation and apartheid, as described by Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, and by Palestinian and international human rights experts.

We condemn all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Opposition to a political system or policy is distinct from bigotry, hatred and discrimination targeting any group of humans based on their identity. We see the former as a legitimate and necessary form of political and ethical expression and the latter as racism – pure and simple.

The late Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Heeding Tutu’s moral appeal, we stand on the side of justice, freedom, and equal rights for all. This is the least we can do.

Signed,

Khalid Abdalla, actor

Udi Aloni, director

Carter Burwell, composer

Peter Capaldi, actor

Kathleen Chalfant, actor

Henry Chalfant, director

Julie Christie, actor

Elaine Collins, executive producer

Steve Coogan, actor, comedian

Liam Cunningham, actor

Charles Dance, actor

Andy de la Tour, actor

Frances de la Tour, actor

Stephen Dillane, actor

Brian Eno, composer

Bella Freud, designer  

Gael García Bernal, actor

Kerry Godliman, actor, comedian

Gemma Jackson, production designer

Jim Jarmusch, director

Asif Kapadia, director

Aki Kaurismäki, director

Peter Kosminsky, writer, director

Ralf Little, actor

Jim Loach, director

Ken Loach, director

Michael Malarkey, actor, musician

Art Malik, actor

Miriam Margolyes, actor

Matt McGorry, actor

David Michôd, director

Viggo Mortensen, actor

Oren Moverman, writer, director, producer

Mira Nair, director

Rebecca O’Brien, producer

Maxine Peake, actor

Michael Radford, writer, director

Dominic Rains, actor

Mark Ruffalo, actor

Susan Sarandon, actor

James Schamus, screenwriter, director

Elhum Shakerifar, producer

Robyn Slovo, producer

V (Eve Ensler), playwright

Cat Villiers, producer

Harriet Walter, actor

Mat Whitecross, director

Susan Wooldridge, actor

Ramy Youssef, actor, producer

Emma Watson support for Palestine: Israel advocates increasingly desperate as public figures speak out

Artists for Palestine UK statement

We welcome Emma Watson’s statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It is another sign of a groundswell of change. Over the last twelve months there has been a decisive shift in global opinion. The facts of Israel’s system of apartheid have been recognised by Human Rights Watch and the leading Israeli human rights organisation, B’tselem.  Israel’s attacks on Palestinians last May were met with worldwide outrage. Farewells to Desmond Tutu, who defended Palestinian rights so passionately, have reminded us of the threads that connect the Palestinian experience to struggles for liberation everywhere.

It is a sign of the Israeli government’s increasing desperation that a simple expression of support for Palestinian rights should provoke immediate and baseless smear tactics from Israel’s former and current Ambassadors to the UN, Danny Danon and Gilad Erdan.

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Dear Black Eyed Peas: Where’s the Love for Palestinians?

Dear Black Eyed Peas,

We are a network of artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers and cultural producers who support Palestinian human rights. We are shocked to hear that you are scheduled to perform in occupied Jerusalem on November 29th.

In the city where you are scheduled to play, indigenous Palestinians are subject to constant state violence. The forced expulsion of Palestinian Jerusalemites from their homes is a war crime. In May this year, the Israeli army’s unprovoked incursion into the Al-Aqsa mosque injured over 300 Palestinian worshippers. Together these crimes ignited protests all over Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, only to be swiftly followed by Israeli F16s bombing the Gaza Strip – killing 260 Palestinians, 129 of them civilians including 66 children and 40 women. 

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Leading writers support Sally Rooney decision to refuse publication in Israel

Photo: David Levenson

Seventy prominent writers, poets and playwrights from several continents, have signed a letter endorsing Sally Rooney’s decision to turn down an offer with an Israel publishing house, describing it as

“an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians”. 

Among the signatories are award-winning Irish authors Niamh Campbell and Kevin Barry; Rachel Kushner, Eileen Myles and Eliot Weinburger from the US; Monica Ali, Caryl Churchill, China Miéville and Kamila Shamsie from the UK. 

The writers say that in May this year Rooney was one of more than 16,000 artists who

“… condemned Israel’s crimes in ‘A Letter Against Apartheid’. Israeli apartheid, they said, is ‘sustained by international complicity; it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’. ”

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Susan Sarandon, Claire Foy, Mark Ruffalo, Eric Cantona call for an immediate end to Israeli attacks on Palestinian human rights groups

More than 100 public figures urge the international community to protect Palestinian human rights defenders.

Musicians Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Jarvis Cocker and Massive Attack, film directors Laura Poitras, Jim Jarmusch, Costa Gravas and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, actors Mark Rylance, Tilda Swinton, Simon Pegg, Richard Gere, authors Philip Pullman, Naomi Klein, Irvine Welsh, Colm Tóibín and Monica Ali — are among dozens of high profile figures who have signed a statement [1] criticising the Israeli government for launching what they say is:

“An unprecedented and blanket attack on Palestinian human rights defenders beginning with the designation […] of six leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” groups.” 

The statement goes on to warn that the Israeli military order that outlaws six “most eminent” Palestinian organizations in the occupied West Bank:

“…puts at risk not just the organizations themselves, but the entire Palestinian civil society and the tens of thousands of Palestinians they serve everyday.”

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The Whitworth Gallery, lobby groups, and the right to speak about Palestine

In response to pressure from lobby groups that seek to deny the basic facts of Palestinian experience, last week the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester removed a statement that formed part of ‘Cloud Studies’, an exhibition on environmental violence by Forensic Architecture.

We wholeheartedly welcome the gallery’s subsequent U-turn and the reinstatement of the group’s statement of solidarity with Palestine, within days, following public outcry and thousands of letters of protest.

We believe this case is instructive as to the modus operandi of the UK’s pro-Israel lobby groups. It also illuminates the damage done when UK institutions accept at face value the claims of some self-appointed groups to represent the view of an entire ethnic group, and are unwilling to acknowledge the political nature of complaints about Palestine-related speech.

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Artists must reject ‘bothsidesism’ – because it serves the powerful and entrenches injustice

Artists for Palestine UK is troubled that the British Actors Network (BAN) has chosen to host an organisation that is funded by the UK government and currently promoted by education secretary, Gavin Williamson, called ‘Solutions Not Sides’. The event is billed as an educational workshop for actors that aims to promote ‘conflict resolution’ as an approach for understanding the situation in Israel-Palestine. 

A recent report by Human Rights Watch accused Israel of “the crime of apartheid and persecution” against the Palestinian population. We are saddened that BAN, an organisation that is working to challenge abuses of power in theatre and film, does not recognise that it is inappropriate and misleading to apply a conflict resolution model while the very grave crimes of apartheid and persecution – with all the violence and trauma these entail – persist.

When BAN invited expressions of interest from the acting community in a Solutions Not Sides event, we were highly critical because the framing appeared not to centre Palestinian lives.  We were delighted that BAN responded to our criticism on social media by publicly inviting us to submit an alternative event proposal for consideration.  Since sending a proposal for an event for and by artists on anti-racism, internationalism and Israel-Palestine, we have heard nothing.  In a follow up letter to Helen Raw, the person behind BAN, we outlined our concerns.

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Thousands of artists call for an end to complicity with Israeli apartheid

It is as if a dam has burst. The last few days have seen an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity with Palestinians from artists and cultural organisations around the world.  Half a century ago, there was massive support for a cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa. Now, artists and cultural workers are mobilising on a similar scale against Israel’s system of apartheid, calling variously for boycotts, practical acts of solidarity with Palestinians and, in particular, an end to co-operation with cultural organisations that are complicit with apartheid.

On May 23rd, ‘Against Apartheid’, a letter signed by many leading Palestinian authors and artists, was endorsed by more than 16,000 international artists, writers and actors including Sally Rooney, Deborah Levy, Cornelia Parker, Alejandro Iñárritu, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Richard Ford, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alia Shawkat, and Tony Kushner. The letter, which referenced the 2021 report by Human Rights Watch which found Israel guilty of ‘crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution’, said:

‘We call on activists, and especially our peers in the arts, to exercise their agency within their institutions and localities to support the Palestinian struggle for decolonization to the best of their ability. Israeli apartheid is sustained by international complicity, it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’.

May 25th saw more than 500 visual artists each posting a statement with the hashtag #VisualArtsforPalestine. The statement pledged to

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Israel Must Be Held To Account For Ongoing Violence Against Palestinians

We share with millions our anger at the indiscriminate and pitiless bombing of the Gaza Strip; at the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah; at the armed invasion of the Al-Aqsa compound during the holy month of Ramadan; at the brutal attacks on peaceful protests in the Occupied West Bank, and on Palestinian citizens of Israel in towns within Israel. All this must stop immediately.


The violence the Israeli authorities are meting out is the same violence that has displaced, repressed and fragmented Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948, when over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly removed from their homes. Israel’s policy of forced displacement, and the ongoing police repression that punishes any form of protest or peaceful resistance by Palestinians, has been taking place in many forms for decades, often without it registering in our news media. Continue reading

Celebrated film director Ken Loach wrongly condemned by Oxford students

We are alarmed that students at Wadham College and St. Peter’s College, Oxford have condemned trailblazing anti-racist film director Ken Loach by applying the discredited and discriminatory IHRA definition of antisemitism to quotations which they have taken out of context and which Loach has clarified comprehensively. 

These moves are part of a wider attempt across the UK and abroad to use the IHRA to silence discussion of Britain’s well-documented historical role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as well as its ongoing support for Israeli apartheid, occupation and settler-colonialism. Without openly discussing and reckoning with this history, we cannot hope to alter its course.

Ken Loach’s work has, over decades, consistently exposed inhumanity, inequality and injustice, from Cathy Come Home (1966) and Kes (1969), to I, Daniel Blake (2016). His award winning films have shone a light on the struggles against fascism in Spain, austerity in Britain, British colonial rule in Ireland and movements for justice in Latin America.

Yesterday #IStandWithKenLoach was trending on Twitter.  It is heartening to see such expressions of support for the celebrated director who has stood with so many others.

As dozens of artists wrote in a statement of support for Ken Loach on Monday:  ‘We cannot fight racism, including antisemitism, by demonising and silencing supporters of Palestinian rights.”

Artists for Palestine UK

Artists stand with Ken Loach and against McCarthyism

“We are deeply troubled to learn of a McCarthyite campaign demanding Oxford University cancel a public event with director Ken Loach discussing his distinguished career in film. The campaign to silence a world-renowned artist, which has been active behind the scenes and which became public at the last minute, is using the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism to try to prevent a cultural event from taking place. If any further evidence were needed to demonstrate how a vaguely worded definition is being deployed to silence critics of Israeli policy towards Palestinians — then this is it. We have been warned by respected Palestinian academics, Israeli scholars, leading experts on antisemitism, dozens of progressive Jewish groups, and others that this definition is being used as a political weapon. We cannot fight racism, including antisemitism, by demonising and silencing supporters of Palestinian rights.”

Signed:

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Brian Eno: Artists must call out Germany’s anti-Palestinian witch-hunt

A 2019 parliamentary resolution has had a chilling effect on critics of Israeli policy. Now the cultural sector is speaking up.

  • This article was published in The Guardian under the title ‘Artists like me are being censored in Germany – because we support Palestinian rights’.

I am just one of many artists who have been affected by a new McCarthyism that has taken hold amid a rising climate of intolerance in Germany. Novelist Kamila Shamsie, poet Kae Tempest, musicians Young Fathers and rapper Talib Kwelli, visual artist Walid Raad and the philosopher Achille Mbembe are among the artists, academics, curators and others who have been caught up in a system of political interrogation, blacklisting and exclusion that is now widespread in Germany thanks to the passing of a 2019 parliamentary resolution. Ultimately this is about targeting critics of Israeli policy towards Palestinians.

Recently, an exhibition of my artwork was cancelled in its early stages because I support the nonviolent, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The cancellation was never publicly declared, but I understand it to have been the consequence of cultural workers in Germany fearing that they and their institution would be punished for promoting someone labelled as “antisemitic”. This is the work of tyranny: create a situation where people are frightened enough to keep their mouths shut, and self-censorship will do the rest.Advertisement

But as my own story is relatively minor, I’d like to tell you about my friend, musician Nirit Sommerfeld.

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Palestinian artists & cultural organisations call on internationals to cancel engagements in Israel

Palestinian artists and cultural organisations in Gaza and beyond have written an appeal for solidarity from all those who work in the arts internationally. We are proud to publish their letter below.

We members of the Palestinian cultural and artistic community in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip, across historic Palestine and in exile make this heartfelt appeal to our fellow artists from around the world to cancel all scheduled performances, exhibitions and appearances in Israel, or sponsored by the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions, whether in-person or online, for as long as Israel’s regime of military occupation and apartheid persists. 

In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s war crimes and violations of international law are proceeding with unprecedented impunity. Even in fighting the pandemic, Israel is revealing its appalling racism, a fact that should trouble people of conscience everywhere.

Israel has dumped Palestinian laborers suspected of having coronavirus at military checkpoints “with no regard for their health or safety,” as video footage shows. It has destroyed a makeshift Palestinian clinic that was planned to care for coronavirus victims in the occupied Jordan Valley. It has also denied COVID-19 testing to entire communities of Indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, and irrefutably discriminated in making updated and accurate coronavirus information available in Arabic to the Palestinian community in a timely manner. 

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Leading artists condemn Israeli raids on Palestinian cultural centres & call for sanctions

Photo: Edward Said National Conservatory of Music by Ahdaf Soueif for PalFest

  • Massive Attack, Steve Coogan, Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake, Philip Pullman and Benjamin Zephaniah are among 60+ cultural figures to put their names to an open letter condemning attacks on key Palestinian cultural centres.
  • The letter says the attacks are ‘part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions’ by the Israeli government. 
  • Brian Eno: ‘These raids … seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture ’
  • The artists call for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’ against Israel.

Signatories to the letter include:

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Calling for boycott, divestment, sanctions is a human right, rules European Court

Governments and political parties across Europe have sought to criminalise the non-violent movement for BDS. Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights stopped that insidious tendency in its tracks. 

In September 2009, nine months after Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ attack on Gaza, 11 campaigners in Northern France were charged with ‘incitement to discrimination’ for handing out Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) leaflets at a hypermarket. They were given suspended fines of €1,000 and required to pay €7,000 in damages. In 2015, the French Court of Cassation upheld their conviction. 

Yesterday, 11th June, the ECHR overturned the French judgment, ruling that the convictions for campaigning for a boycott of Israeli products violated the campaigners’ right to freedom of expression. Their call to boycott Israeli products, said the court, did not amount to discrimination: it was protected by the right to free speech. 

The ECHR’s ruling, says Marco Perolini of Amnesty International, ‘should send a clear message to all European states that they must stop the prosecution of peaceful activists’ and stop trying to ‘target activists campaigning against human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians’. 

Artists for Palestine UK welcomes this judgement. As Israel prepares to dispossess Palestinians of an even greater part of their land, we know that it is more important than ever that artists’ voices are heard. We will continue to campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel, exercising our right of free speech against those who try to bully and silence all opposition. 

Speak out to stop annexation now

Mercury award-winning band Wolf Alice, Peter Gabriel, authors Philip Pullman, Irvine Welsh, Colm Tóibín, and Selma Dabbagh, actors Harriet Walter and Julie Christie are among cultural figures joining many MPs, trade unions and human rights organisations to call on the UK government and political parties to: “support the call of Palestinian civil society organisations for effective measures by all States to stop Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank”.

Artists for Palestine UK is proud to partner on the launch of this vital call to action, the text of which is reproduced below. The campaign launches with this letter in the Guardian.

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Leading artists urge end to Israel’s siege of Gaza amid coronavirus crisis

Philip Pullman, Alia Shawkat, Peter Gabriel and 200* others back Amnesty International’s call for a military embargo on Israel “until it fully complies with its obligations under international law”

Photo: AFP

  • UPDATE: 500+ artists have now signed!


Philip Pullman, Naomi Klein, Peter Gabriel, Alia Shawkat, Vic Mensa and Viggo Mortensen Jr. are among more than two hundred musicians, actors, filmmakers, authors and others calling for an end to Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip amid the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter published on Wednesday, they write, “Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison.” 

The first cases of coronavirus in blockaded Gaza were reported in March. Palestinian, Israeli and international humanitarian and human rights organisations have called for the lifting of Israel’s siege so that Gaza can address its severe shortages of medical equipment.

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Threats to anti-racism charity lead to Ken Loach stepping down as competition judge

  • Show Racism the Red Card commends Loach’s ‘commitment to fighting racism’
  • Charity’s funding put at risk by unfounded allegations

Show Racism the Red Card and Ken Loach – a statement from Ken Loach’s supporters – first published at the website of Sixteen Films

Film director Ken Loach has withdrawn as a judge in the 2020 School Competition run by respected anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

The charity announced on February 4 that Ken Loach and author and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen were to judge this year’s competition, which involves thousands of schoolchildren in hundreds of schools producing poetry, drama, films and other forms of creative work on combating racism. Loach, Rosen and SRtRC were then subjected to an aggressive and abusive campaign both on-line and in print media, making baseless accusations of antisemitism against Ken Loach in particular.

In response to these allegations actor and comedian Steve Coogan said: “His entire career has been to shine a light on the plight of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. His films have given a voice to the voiceless.….Ken Loach’s legacy will remain long after his critics have gone.”

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