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. 

The UN has long said that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020, after thirteen years of Israel’s brutal siege that has confined two million Palestinians, mostly refugees, to a narrow coastal strip. Israel has subjected Gaza to regular bombardments, killing thousands, among them our friends, colleagues and family members, in the last decade alone.

Here we are reaching the end of 2020 as the world faces a global pandemic that Palestinians too, including in Gaza, must somehow survive. UN human rights expert Michael Lynk recently highlighted that Gaza’s health care system had been collapsing even before the first cases of coronavirus were detected, a shameful reality for which Israel bears full responsibility as the occupying power. 

Over five thousand Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, and millions of Palestinians living in crowded refugee camps in and outside of Palestine are at severe risk of COVID-19 outbreak. Palestinian hospitals, especially in Gaza, are devastated by decades of Israeli occupation and siege. A serious lack of essential medical supplies and intensive care hospital beds combined with regular power outages means that the growing outbreak could have potentially devastating consequences for Palestinians in Gaza. 

Hospitals were already stretched to breaking point dealing with countless gunshot wounds from Israeli fire and resultant amputations. Israeli snipers have deliberately shot and maimed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in the last two years during the peaceful Great March of Return and killed hundreds, including children, medics, journalists, and disabled people.

Israeli snipers have even competed over the number of knees each can claim to have shot to pieces, publicly boasting about their “hits.” UN investigators said these atrocities may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed against indigenous people protesting for the right to return to the homes and land from which they were ethnically cleansed. 

Two years ago, just a short drive from apartheid Tel Aviv, Israel destroyed an important cultural centre in Gaza, the Said al-Mishal, with targeted airstrikes. Violations and abuses against Palestinian musicians, poets, actors and other artists are commonplace, including in occupied East Jerusalem. As South African leaders have recognized, Israel has created an even worse apartheid system against Palestinians, with which there should be no business-as-usual. 

At this time of global distress, uncertainty and frightening impunity it is disturbing that some international artists are still scheduled to appear in-person in apartheid Tel Aviv or online at events sponsored by Israel or its complicit cultural institutions. As fellow artists, we urge them to cancel their engagements, to be on the right side of history, and to show meaningful solidarity with the oppressed.”

Signed,

Organizations 

Abna’ona Association for Development

Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development

Al Bayader Theater Group

Al Fordaws Association for Development

Al Harah Theater

Al Karama Complex for Culture and Arts

Al Manal Association for Women Rural Development

Al Rowad Society for Youth Development

Al Sununu Society for Culture and Arts

Al Taghreed Association for Culture, Development

Al-Awda Center for Childhood and Youth

Al-Kamandjati Association

Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society

Amwaj Association for Social Development and Improvement

Asalah Commission for Palestinian Popular Heritage

Ashtar Theater

Association for Culture, Art and Popular Heritage

Baladi Center For Culture and Arts

Bethlehem Academy for Music

Bureij Cultural Forum

Civitas Institute

Cultural Al Maghazi Center

Cultural and Social Deir Al Balah Center

Cultural Forum for Youth

Cultural Unity Association

Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)

Culture Association For Protection Heritage

Culture, Arts and Heritage Association

Dar Elshabab for Culture & Development

El Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe

Freedom Theater

Gaza Center for Culture and Arts

General Union of Cultural Centres (GUCC)

Jerusalemite Youth Cultural Forum

Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center

Milad Centre for Youth Abilities Development

Nawa for Culture and Arts Association

Palestinian Al Najada Association

Palestinian Circus School

Popular Art Centre

Sareyyet Ramallah

Siwar Association for Culture and Arts

Tawasul for Youth and Culture

The Cultural Forum Centre

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

The Palestinian Association for Heritage’s Development and Protection

Theatre Day Productions

Theatre for All

Yes Theatre

Youth and Environment Association

Individuals 

Ismail Abu Ali, nai player

Khalil Abu Ghazal, singer

Abdulaziz Abu Sharkh, qanun player

Abdulfattah Abu Srour, director

Shahd Abusalama, dancer

Yousri Al-Ghoul, writer, artist

Nai Barghouti, singer

Haidar Eid, musician

Hanin Ejla, singer

Samir Eskanda, musician

Ibrahim Ghunaim, rapper

Mohammed Jerjes, singer

Hannah Khalil, playwright

Alaa Khatib, painter

Ahmed Masoud, author, playwright

Malak Matar, painter

Mahmoud Modallal, singer, musician

ِِِArab M. Moghanni, Snonou Institution for Culture

Mona Mosaddar, poet

Emad Mudallal, singer

Abdulkarim Mudallal, singer

May Odeh, Director, producer

Mohammed Qraeqea, painter

Malek Qraeqea, painter

Fahmy Saqqa, keyboard player, composer

Ghada Shuman, singer

Ahmed Tafeish, singer

Le Trio Joubran, band

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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!


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*UK-based academics and artists can sign the letter here.*

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*According to NGOs Human Rights Watch and B’tselem

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