Judy Joo: Please stand with Palestinians

* In Gaza 97% of water is currently contaminated by sewage and/or salt due to the ongoing blockade of 1.7 million Palestinians living there (Oxfam)

Judy Joo is a chef, writer and restaurateur. We love the creativity of her work at London’s  Jinjuu — but we hate apartheid, so we’re hoping Joo will turn down the Israeli government-sponsored ‘Tel Aviv Round Tables’ food festival.  More than 70 chefs and food writers in the US are choosing to speak out against Israel’s violation of Palestinian land rights, water rights and basic human rights. Please join them Judy Joo!


Dear Judy Joo,

We understand that you and your restaurant, Jinjuu, are scheduled to appear for a week in Tel Aviv in November this year as part of the American Express Round Tables event.

We’re wondering if you’ve seen this appeal to you and all the other participating chefs by Palestinian women’s and farmers’ associations.

You will see that the Palestinians are characterising Round Tables as ‘gastro-diplomacy…to cover up Israel’s decades-old system of occupation and apartheid’.

We can understand that for people who don’t necessarily pay close attention to the politics of the Middle East, the circumstances of Palestinian lives, in exile and under Israeli military occupation – circumstances that lead Palestinians to describe themselves as enduring an apartheid system – might be unfamiliar.

Would you be prepared to meet with a couple of us to discuss this, and the implications of your appearance in Tel Aviv, further?

You’re a respected and highly visible figure in the culinary world, renowned for your promotion of Korean cuisine and the quality of your cooking.   You are lending your reputation to a PR exercise that masks a grim daily reality for Palestinians.

Our organisation, Artists for Palestine UK, represents more than 1,300 UK artists who, since early 2015, have publicly declared that they will not perform or accept other professional invitations from official Israeli bodies until Israel ‘complies with international law and universal principles of human rights’.

This is a stance that is increasingly supported by creative professionals around the world.   You may be aware that in the last year alone, numbers of high-profile artists, including Lorde and Lana Del Rey, have cancelled appearances in Israel once they understood their performances could be interpreted as endorsing the oppression of the Palestinians.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Artists for Palestine UK




DJs, producers, electronic musicians join boycott of Israel en masse

Today a stream of DJs, producers, record labels, electronic musicians are speaking up for Palestine and endorsing the cultural boycott of Israel. Using the hashtag #DJsForPalestine, these artists and cultural producers say they are supporting the Palestinian call for boycott as a peaceful protest against the occupation, “for as long as the Israeli government continues its brutal and sustained oppression of the Palestinian people”.

This collective action follows the pattern of a similar wave of bands, including  Portishead and Wolf Alice, who came out in protest using the hashtag #ArtistsForPalestine, shortly after Israel’s massacre of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza this May.

Caribou, the Discwoman collective, Laurel Halo, The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, Tessela, Truants, Ciel, DEADBOY, FourTet, Room4Resistance and many, many more joined together for this action.   Some artists added personal messages, for example Ben Thomson / UFO explained:

My feeling since my first visit has been that while Palestinian civil society calls for a boycott, showing solidarity with their cause is worth more to me than travelling to play a show. this has been my position since 2013. Having been asked to participate in this campaign, I felt it would be dishonest to continue to say nothing.”

Soraya, founder of Truants said:

In light of our government’s failure to pressure Israel to end its horrific war crimes in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and Israel’s persistent violations of Palestinian rights, I endorse the call for the cultural boycott of Israel

Jo Née of 3BS Records wrote:

Coming from a Jewish family who were also beneficiaries in apartheid South Africa I feel inextricably linked to the cause of the Palestinian people

In response, Palestinian campaigners PACBI have thanked the DJsForPalestine wave, issuing their own statement:


At the time of writing, more and more cultural producers are joining this wave. Below are just a few sample tweets #DJsForPalestine —

Artists call for boycott of Israel-hosted Eurovision 2019 – UK signatories

Artists, musicians and writers from 18 different  countries have published an open letter in the Guardian which condemns the purported hosting of Eurovision 2019 in Israel, saying that the contest should be moved to a non-divisive location, and – citing the recent killing of large numbers of Palestinian civilians – to a country with a better human rights record.
  • Personal statements by international artists can be found here.
  • In addition to the selection of international names in the Guardian, see the full list of British signatories attached to the letter here:

We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel. Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights to all humans, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.

On May 14, days after Israel’s Eurovision win, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and injured hundreds, most with live ammunition. Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as “unlawful and calculated.”

Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights. We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a non-divisive’ location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites.

Signed: (UK signatories)

Hanan al-Shaykh, writer

Amir Amirani, filmmaker

Bidisha, journalist and broadcaster

Nicholas Blincoe, writer

Haim Bresheeth, filmmaker

Victoria Brittain, writer

David Calder, actor

Carmen Callil, publisher and writer

Julie Christie, actor

Caryl Churchill, playwright

Ruth Daniel, artistic director, In Place of War

April de Angelis, playwright

Andy de la Tour, actor and writer

Tam Dean Burn, actor

Shane Dempsey, theatre director

Nancy Elan, violinist

Brian Eno, composer

Gareth Evans, curator and writer

Naomi Foyle, writer

Jane Frere, artist

Debbie Golt, broadcaster

Mel Gooding, writer and critic

Trevor Griffiths, playwright

Rachel Holmes, writer

Robb Johnson, songwriter

John Keane, artist

Reem Kelani, musician and broadcaster

Sarah Kemp, musician, Brave Timbers

A.L. Kennedy, writer

Hannah Khalil, writer

Judith Knight, producer

Peter Kosminsky, writer and director

Adam Kossoff, artist-filmmaker

Desmond Lambert, musician, Some Velvet Morning

Paul Laverty, scriptwriter

Mike Leigh, writer and director

Tom Leonard, poet

Ken Loach, filmmaker

Maeve Mackinnon, Gaelic singer

Sabrina Mahfouz, writer

Ahmed Masoud, writer and director

Kika Markham, actor

Julian Maynard-Smith, director

JD Meatyard, singer, songwriter, musician

Pauline Melville, writer

Jenny Morgan, filmmaker

Laura Mulvey, writer and filmmaker

Rebecca O’Brien, producer

Gary O’Dea, songwriter and musician

Leon Rosselson, songwriter

Yara Salahiddeen, singer

Alexei Sayle, comedian and author

Andrew Scrogham, musician, Brave Timbers

Nick Seymour, musician, Crowded House

Farhana Sheikh, writer

Sigmatron, DJ and producer

Chris Somes-Charlton, artist manager

Roger Waters, musician

Hilary Westlake, theatre director

Wolf Alice, band

Penny Woolcock, writer and director


Artswatch Palestine: June-August 2018

Gaza – the war against culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaza – the war over meaning


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

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

This did not go unnoticed on social media.


Gaza – the forbidden subject

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE Stephanie Carp later rescinded her decision.

Tatour – the forbidden poet

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

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

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

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

Nakba – the forbidden history

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Barenboim: Israel is an Apartheid state

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artists in opposition to Israel’s policies

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

Extracts from the list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Palestine Exception to Freedom of Speech[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mai Abu ElDahab,  Director, Mophradat

Tunde Adebimpe,  Musician

Antonia Alampi,   Artistic co-director, SAVVY Contemporary

Nir Alon,  Artist

Julia Aranda,  Artist

Mohammed Bakri,  Actor

Saleh Bakri,  Actor

Jeff Barrett,  Founder, Heavenly Recordings

Avi Berg, Artist

Yves Berger, artist

Judith Butler,  Philosopher

David Calder,  Actor

Noam Chomsky,  Linguist, philosopher

Julie Christie,  Actor

Caryl Churchill,  Playwright

Jarvis Cocker,  Musician

Molly Crabapple,  Artist, writer

Liam Cunningham,  Actor

Angela Davis,  Political activist, academic

Laurence Dreyfus, Director, Phantasm viol consort

Tania El Khoury,  Artist

Brian Eno  Composer, producer

Reem Fadda,  Curator

David Farr,  Writer, director

Chiara Figone,  Archive Books/Kabinett/Journal

Marina Fokidis,  Curator, writer

Rebecca Foon, Musician

Peter Gabriel,  Musician, founder, WOMAD Festival

Dani Gal,  Artist

Danny Glover, Actor

Carl Gosling,  Heavenly Recordings

Ian Ilavsky,  Co-founder, Constellation Records

Iman Issa,  Artist

Ghada Karmi,  Writer, academic

Aki Kaurismaki,  Film director

A.L. Kennedy,  Writer

Naomi Klein,  Writer

Judith Knight,  Co-director, Artsadmin

Hari Kunzru,  Writer

Paul Laverty,  Screenwriter

Mike Leigh,  Writer, director

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

Ken Loach,  Film director

Jens Maier-Rothe,  Curator

Jumana Manna,  Artist

Miriam Margolyes,  Actor

Yann Martel, Author

Massive Attack,  Band

Thurston Moore,  Musician

David Morrissey,  Actor

Nicholas Mirzoeff,  Cultural theorist

Danny Mitchell,  Heavenly Recordings

Leil Zahra Mortada,  Filmmaker

Viggo Mortensen,  Actor, writer, artist

Karma Nabulsi,  Professor of Politics

Mira Nair,  Film director

Bonaventure Ndikung, Founder, Savvy Contemporary

Paul Northup, Director, Greenbelt Festival

Rebecca O’Brien,  Film Producer

Ilan Pappe,  Historian

Jocelyn Pook,  Composer

Cat Power, Musician

Jeremie Pujau,  Artist

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

Michael Rosen,  Children’s poet, broadcaster

Eran Schaerf,  Artist

James Schamus,  Screenwriter, producer, director

Eyal Sivan,  Documentary filmmaker

Harry Leslie Smith, Writer

John Smith,  Artist, filmmaker

Patti Smith,  Musician, poet

Jesse Smith, Musician, activist

Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

Alice Walker,  Writer

Roger Waters,  Musician

Eyal Weizman,  Architect

Vivienne Westwood,  Designer

Don Wilkie,  Co-founder, Constellation Records

Tim Wilson,  Founder, VAULT Festival

Tim Wise,  Writer

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Artists join the boycott of Israel en masse

Following Israel’s massacre in Gaza in which snipers targeted thousands of unarmed Palestinian protestors,  also attacking medics, journalists, photographers and children – a coordinated wave of  bands have publicly endorsed the cultural boycott of Israel in support of Palestinian rights, and for freedom, justice and equality.
Here are sample tweets from Wolf Alice, Portishead, Reverend and the Makers, Slaves, Peace, Circa Waves, Nadine Shah and more – starting with the response from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who initiated the call.
Follow the hashtag #artistsforpalestine
British artists and bands can add their name to the now more than 1,300 who signed the Artists Pledge for Palestine on this site.

Continue reading

Artswatch Palestine: January – May 2018

Artswatch reports on some of the events before, during and after the 14th May massacre in Gaza.

A chain of killings

Before the deaths of more than 60 people on 14th May, there were other killings, which took  a heavy toll of media workers.

In the early hours of April 7,  wrote Mariam Barghouti in AlJazeera, ‘we received a message that Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja had succumbed to his wounds in a hospital.’ He had been shot by Israeli snipers in Gaza a day earlier, on a day on which 28 others also died.

Just two days before his murder, Barghouti wrote, Yaser messaged us to explain that he was working on a documentary on the Great March of Return. He never finished his documentary, never came home to his wife and two-year-old son and, instead of reporting news, he became the news.  

The message came as a shock to us. His friends were in disbelief and those of us that never met Yaser but knew of him as a journalist comrade met the news with pain and a realisation that we are never truly safe. No press card, no shield can save us from murder. Continue reading

Award-winning director withdraws film from Seret London Israel Film & TV Festival

The writer-director of the acclaimed feature film ‘In Between’, one of the films programmed by the Seret London Israel Film & TV Festival,  is one of 36 filmmakers and others to have signed a letter published in the Guardian today saying that UK cinemas should “uphold basic ethical standards” and refuse to provide a platform to  “a regime that is guilty of systematic and large-scale human rights violations”. Maysaloun Hamoud has also withdrawn her film.

According to its website, the festival, which is supported by the Israeli Embassy and the World Zionist Organisation, intends to reflect Israel as a “melting pot of cultures, religions and backgrounds”. But Hamoud, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, said in a statement to Artists for Palestine UK:

“I do not want my film, or my name, to be used to portray an image of Israel as a “melting pot of cultures and religions”.

The arts, the filmmakers’ letter says, are “being employed to give an apparently acceptable face to a brutal reality”. They add that “Israel deliberately and routinely denies media freedom to Palestinians” citing  the targeting of Palestinian journalists and photographers by Israeli forces.

Shopping announce withdrawal from Pop-Kultur Berlin in solidarity with Palestinians

We are proud to publish to a statement from UK band Shopping, who today announce their withdrawal from Pop-Kultur Berlin festival in protest at its decision to accept support from the Israeli embassy in Germany. Last year, eight artists withdrew in protest for this same reason.

Their statement:
‘We will no longer be performing at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin this August. After we were recently announced for the festival, we were contacted privately by Palestinian artists and human rights activists about the festival’s cooperation with the state of Israel, and how this serves to normalise and whitewash Israel’s military occupation and decades of oppression against the Palestinian people. We cannot in good conscience be part of that.

As a band, Shopping are and will always be completely opposed to any form of oppression and discrimination, including homophobia, transphobia, colonialism and racism. We stand firmly against antisemitism and Islamophobia. For these reasons, and in harmony with the principles of the nonviolent, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, we affirm our solidarity with the Palestinian call for BDS.’

The Palestinian appeal to international artists, information, and artists’ statements 2017-18 can be found on a new website, Boycott Pop Kultur Festival.
#popkulturfestival #popkultur2018 #popkulturberlin #popkulturberlin2018
Photo: Jenna Fox

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

Maxine Peake, Liam Cunningham, Juliet Stevenson and Helena Kennedy QC are among 36 filmmakers and others who have signed a letter  protesting the hosting of  the Seret London Israeli Film and TV Festival in UK cinemas, due to the involvement of the Israeli Embassy.  The letter, published in Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian, says that cinemas are providing a platform for “a regime that is guilty of systematic and large-scale human rights violations”.  Full letter and signatories below.
Continue reading

Jamiroquai, will you stand with the Palestinians?

Dear Jamiroquai,

We write to ask you to cancel your concert in Israel. We do so knowing that band members are not indifferent to the situation in Palestine. In a 2008 interview, Jay Kay said, ‘Ask me something else; Ask me about the situation in Palestine’.

If we asked you about the situation in Palestine today, you’d probably know  that it has greatly deteriorated since 2008, with three prolonged bombing campaigns by Israel on Gaza. The besieged Strip is, according to the United Nations, ‘unlivable’, and there’s an ever expanding colonisation of land in the Palestinian West Bank. Continue reading

Morcheeba: Please don’t give comfort to the oppressor

Artists for Palestine UK is dismayed that despite the unlawful and calculated* massacre of 21  people (to date) during the march by refugees trapped inside Gaza – it appears that the duo that make up British trip-hop outfit Morcheeba, are set to entertain audiences in Tel Aviv next month. As we make our letter to Morcheeba public, we still hope that Skye Edwards and Ross Godfrey will connect with Palestinian artists or organisations, or indeed with ourselves, before proceeding with business-as-usual under this deeply racist and brutal Apartheid regime.
*According to NGOs Human Rights Watch and B’tselem

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Artswatch Palestine: October – December 2017

Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.

Dareen Tatour: languid oppression

The Israeli state continues its legal harassment of Dareen Tatour (Artswatch 2016 and 2017). Yoav Haifawi reports in +972 (17th December) that more than two years after her arrest in October 2015, the poet’s trial ‘drags on languidly’ in a Nazareth court with no end in sight. On Monday, December 4, the remand judge once again rejected her request to be released from the house arrest imposed on her ‘until the end of legal proceedings.’ Even when she is allowed to leave her house during the day, she must be accompanied at all times by a court-authorized custodian. Under such conditions it is clear, writes Haifawi, that she cannot work or live a normal life.

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Artists to Lorde: individual messages of support

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


Brian Eno, musician

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Leading artists stand with Lorde

More than 100 artists including leading lights in film, theatre, literature, and music  have come together to sign a statement of support for the singer, songwriter and record producer Lorde. While signatories to the letter, which is published on the Guardian’s letter page, may hold a range of positions on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), they are united in their defence of the right to freedom of conscience. We are happy to publish the letter and the FULL list of signatories, below.
[Photo: Perou for the Guardian]

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Artists’ statements on Trump and occupied Jerusalem

Today’s edition of The Guardian (December 12) carries a letter signed by one hundred artists, including prominent writers, filmmakers, and musicians, in response to Trump’s ‘recognition’ of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.   The signatories, who include actors Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton and musician Peter Gabriel, said:

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city […]

We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.

As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.

The full list of signatories is published here.

Separately, some of the artists have issued their own individual statements, one of them in verse. We are proud to publish responses by poet Michael Rosen, musicians Peter Gabriel and Robert Wyatt, playwright Caryl Churchill, writers Selma Dabbagh, Hari Kunzru and Ahmed Masoud, producer Kate Parker, filmmaker Ken Loach, and more below.

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Israel’s apartheid regime salutes Nick Cave

Musician and writer Nick Cave declared at a press conference on Sunday that he wanted to ‘make a principled stand’ by crossing the Palestinian boycott picket line, dismissing widespread calls to cancel his group the Bad Seeds’ two concerts in Tel Aviv.  Cave’s words have found him a new fan-base in the form of Israel’s government: there has been an outpouring of public endorsements from its foreign ministry and diplomatic missions across Europe, the U.S., and Australia, as well as from numerous lobby groups.

We have sampled, and reproduced below, tweets from ten Israeli government bodies and spokespeople and seven lobby groups, all of which work hard to counter the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement and promote Israel’s interests.

Nick Cave declared his love for Israel, and the Israeli regime reciprocated, providing further proof, if any were needed, of the propaganda value to Israel of appearances by international artists.  Cave has gifted Israel’s government a PR coup. Yet Israel’s imposition of decades of military occupation and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian population is increasingly being challenged by principled solidarity, including from artists. Instead of helping Israel’s regime to whitewash its violations of Palestinian human rights, we invite Cave to support those working for freedom and rights for all. Continue reading

Leading writers respond to Nick Cave

Israel’s officials wasted no time in reciprocating Nick Cave’s declaration of love for Israel, made at his recent press conference there. Today, leading writers have responded to the musician and author’s claims about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  These statements, published below, follow responses from artists including Brian Eno and Roger Waters. 

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Artists respond to Nick Cave’s comments

Nick Cave has held a press conference in Israel, in which he explained he ‘decided to play in Israel to stand up to ‘anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians’According to the NME: The musician explained that his change in attitude came about when Brian Eno asked him to a sign a list called Artists For Palestine three years ago. “On a very intuitive level, [I] did not want to sign it,” he said. “There was something that stunk to me about that list.”

“So after a lot of thought and consideration I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing an European tour and Israel.’ Because it suddenly became very important to me to make a stand against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians. At the end of the day, there’s maybe two reasons why I’m here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. ”’ 

Today, in addition to a statement from Artists for Palestine UK, we are publishing a number responses to Cave’s comments from individual artists.

*UPDATE Thurston Moore comment added on 25.11.2017

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