In our letter published in the Guardian yesterday and copied below, 20 British filmmakers and writers including Mike Leigh, Leila Sansour, Ken Loach and Prahitbha Parmar criticise the hosting of an Israeli government sponsored film festival in the UK.The letter cites the findings of the recent UN report on Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza. It compares celebrity and business protests against Brunei over its new anti-LGBT law, with those against Israel over its violence against the Palestinians.
*Photo: The play ‘Palestine: Year Zero’ cancelled a few days before premiere.
Our digest of news from Israel’s cultural war against the Palestinians
A word in the mayor’s ear
Last year, the ‘Cultural Loyalty’ Bill, which would have withdrawn funding from cultural productions deemed to be anti-Israel, failed to win the approval of the Knesset.
The Bill may have died, but its principles live on.
Ha’aretz (9thDecember 2018) reports that Avigdor Yitzakhi, head of Israel’s state-run lottery, has successfully pressured the mayor of Kabul, a Palestinian-majority town in the north of Israel, to cancel a play whose plot involves the demolition of Palestinian homes. Performances of ‘Palestine: Year Zero’ were cancelled a few days before its first performance.
Brian Eno’s op-ed is published in today’s Guardian, and copied below.
“Those of us who make art and culture for a living thrive on free and open communication. So what should we do when we see culture becoming part of a political agenda? “Music unites,” says UK Eurovision entrant Michael Rice. What happens when a powerful state uses art as propaganda, to distract from its immoral and illegal behaviour? Everybody involved in the Eurovision song contest this year should understand that this is what is happening.
- Palestinian author Susan Abulhawa (pictured) was on her way to Palestine Literature Festival when she was denied entry to her homeland, held in a prison cell, then flown back to the United States.
Our digest of news from Israel’s cultural war against the Palestinians
Dareen Tatour, Palestinian poet and citizen of Israel, was released from prison on September 20th. She had spent almost three years in jail or under house arrest. Her ‘crime’ was to post one of her poems on Facebook – ‘Resist my people, resist them’. In July this year, she was finally sentenced, on grounds of incitement to violence and support for terror organisations. (Indictments for online incitement have tripled in Israel since 2014.)
In August, Tatour entered the special wing of Damoun Prison. She was classified as a ‘security’ prisoner and denied access to her phone and the internet. Her father was at first denied permission to visit her. He and Dareen’s mother were finally allowed to see her on 5 September, after Tatour had spent almost a month in prison. She was released with a suspended sentence hanging over her, to guard against further ‘incitement’.
The Loyalty in Culture Bill
* 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!
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:
- 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:
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.
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”.
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 :
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
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.
‘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.’
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.
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
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.
Brian Eno, musician
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]