- Does the Pledge call for a blanket boycott of Israeli artists?
There is no blanket boycott of Israeli artists. So there is nothing to stop signers of the Pledge going to Israel/Palestine if they are invited by groups that explicitly support Palestinian rights, or indeed by Palestinian organisations themselves. The Palestinian call for a boycott focuses on links to the Israeli state. The Pledge is a refusal to accept invitations from the Israeli state, or by institutions that work with the state, or are silent about or complicit with the Occupation and its associated policies.
- I am an artist and I do not have control over who buys the art I produce, nor the circulation of that work once it has been sold. Am I in a position to sign the Pledge?
Yes, you are. The pledge does not insist that an artists’ work never gets to Israel. You might consider taking the step of making your work unavailable in Israel, if you are able to do that. But obviously no individual can control the circulation of cultural products in a global market. Director Ken Loach supports the boycott, yet his films show in Israel because he does not control their distribution. However he will not accept invitations to present his work in Israel under the current political regime. Playwright Caryl Churchill’s does not make her work available in Israel, however she made her play Seven Jewish Children freely available for a group of activists, in the context of a political street performance in Israel.
It is important to acknowledge that people working in the arts have different levels of power and control at different points in their careers. Where artists are able to withhold their work, they are urged to do so. No one expects cultural workers to jeopardise relationships with the mediators whom they rely on to survive – but we hope that as the boycott becomes mainstream it will be less taboo for us to act on our determination to refuse to ignore conditions of apartheid in Israel/Palestine.
- I would like to sign the Pledge but my book has already been published in Israel / an artwork I made is already in a museum / I performed there just six months ago.
The Israeli assault on Gaza in summer 2014 has caused many people to change their position on boycotts. Many now want to be part of a collective, public refusal to accept current and future invitations to Israel, or to collaborate with Israeli institutions. Of course this does not operate retrospectively, and public adherence to the Pledge today is a positive political act in itself.
- What if I unwittingly receive money ‘linked to the Israeli state’ via the film company I am doing some work for?
Signing up to the Pledge means saying ‘No’ if you are offered a commission, prize, residency or other role funded by the Israeli embassy, a municipal authority or any official body or cultural institution that does not explicitly oppose Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
You may wish to take steps to avoid more indirect money flows, however the purpose of the boycott is not to feel ‘pure’ (who is?) by not being sullied by contact with a regime one doesn’t like, but rather to establish some principles whose application will register as a collective protest and as a rejection of the complicity of our governments. People are urged to boycott according to their conscience, and PACBI offer guidelines that people may wish to follow and which the organizers of this pledge themselves follow.