‘UK government must end isolation of artists from Gaza’: hundreds of academics and artists speak out

The letter  below criticises the UK government’s shameful ‘hostile environment’ policy, as it impacts  on artists, and in particular artists from Gaza. Israel’s policies have brought Gaza to the brink of economic, social and ecological collapse. To refuse visas to individuals who use all their efforts to be productive and creative in the face of dire circumstances, largely brought about by Israeli policy, makes the UK an accomplice in a strategy of collective punishment.
*UK-based academics and artists can sign the letter here.*

We, U.K. based artists and academics are dismayed that two Palestinian filmmakers Yousef Nateel and Hussein Owda from Gaza have been refused visitor visas to the UK. Their film Gazagraph is part of ‘The Past in the Present’ film programme developed for Creative Interruptions, a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  They have been invited to attend the world premiere of their film, take part in further screenings and participate in an academic conference and networking events at Sheffield Hallam University,  the British Film Institute, Kings College London, Regents University, Migration Matters Festival in Sheffield and HOME in Manchester . The events are due to take place in June.

 We are alarmed at the recent trend of rejecting entry to academics and artists from Gaza. In August 2018 the Home Office delayed granting a visa to the Palestinian Author Nayrouz Qarmout making it impossible for her to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  In the same month they prevented the young Palestinian visual artist Malak Mattar from attending an exhibition containing her own work. We wish to challenge what is a systemic problem affecting all artists in the Global South.  Over the last two years there has been a significant increase in the number of rejections.  In the case of Gaza, the systematic isolation of its artists and academics by the British government not only impedes academic and cultural exchange but also colludes in Israel’s efforts to isolate and inflict collective punishment on the people of Gaza. We call on the Home Office to reconsider their decision and allow Yousef and Hussein visitor visas to the U.K. to share their creative talents here.

List of signatories:

Adam Sargant Storyteller
Aitemad Muhanna-MATAR Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science
Alberto Fernández Carbajal University of Roehampton
Alex Callinicos Professor of European Studies, King’s College London
Alison Gibbons Sheffield Hallam University
Alnoor Mutha Senior Research Fellow
Amani Hassani PhD, independent researcher
Anand Pillay Mathematics, Visiting Professor, Leeds
Anandi Ramamurthy Sheffield Hallam University
Angela Martin film editor;  former Snr Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
Anita Rupprecht Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton
Anna Bernard King’s College London
Anna Francis Associate Professor
Annabelle Sreberny Emeritus professor, SOAS, University of London
Annaliese Connolly Sheffield Hallam University
April de Angelis Playwright
Ash Kotak Writer and curator
Ava Hunt University of Derby
Aydan Greatrick University College London
Barry Heselwood University of Leeds
Bashir Abu-Manneh University of Kent
Ben Rogaly Professor of Human Geography, University of Sussex
Betty Hunter Honorary President Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Binita Walia Artist and Marketing and PR Consultant
Bob Jeffery Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
Cadi Catlow Animation director
Caroline Parker MBE Actress/arts practitioner
Caroline Rooney Professor of African and Middle Eatern Studies, Kent
Caryl Churchill Playwright
Cat Villiers film producer
Catherine Charrett Queen Mary University of London
Cathy Bergin University of Brighton
Christian Hogsbjerg University of Brighton
Claudia Kappenberg University of Brighton
Dani Abulhawa Sheffield Hallam University
Daniele Rugo Brunel University London
David Roger Production Designer in Film/Television Member of Artists for Palestine UK
David Thorpe Audiobook narrator and tutor
Delmozene Morris-Ley Examiner
Derek Attridge University of York
Diane Langford Writer
Douglas Kuhrt Theatre Lighting designer
Dr Adi Kuntsman Senior Lecturer,  Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Aida Foroutan Artist & Art Historian
Dr Anne Alexander University of Cambridge
Dr Fahid Qurashi Staffordshire University
Dr Hassan Hakimian Director, London Middle East Institute, SOAS
Dr Hilary Aked Writer
Dr Judy Price University of Brighton
Dr Karis Campion University of Manchester
Dr Katy Sian Lecturer in Sociology, University of York
Dr Katy Sian University of York
Dr Ken Fero Regents University London
Dr Melanie Richter-Montpetit Lecturer in International Security, University of Sussex
Dr Michael Pierse Senior Lecturer, School of AEL, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Paul Kelemen University of Manchester
Dr Rajesh Patel Senior Lecturer Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Rich Moth Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Liverpool Hope University
Dr Rick Bowler Senior Lecturer Community and Youth Work Studies
Dr Robin Dunford University of Brighton
Dr Sabina Shah Independent academic essayist and filmmaker
Dr Sam Browse Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Sarah Irving Linnaeus University, Sweden
Dr Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar University of Manchester
Dr Steven Lucas Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University
Dr Zoe Norridge King’s College London
Dr. Caitlin Fox-Hodess Lecturer, University of Sheffield
Dr. Mark Abel University of Brighton
Ekua Bayunu International Artist
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies, UCL
Elizabeth Lynch Research Fellow Birkbeck Contemporary Theatre
Erica Burman Professor of Education, University of Manchester
Eugene Michail University of Brighton
Eva McQuade Student
Eyal Clyne Sociologist
Faith Taylor Teaching Associate, QMUL
Farah Haddad RefuAid
Farhana Sheikh Writer
Francis Campbell actor/musician
Gary Cordingley Artist
Gaydon Phillips Former stage manager. Literary manager.
George Legg King’s College London
George Matheson
Gilbert Achcar SOAS, University of London
Gillian slovo Writer
Haim Bresheeth SOAS London
Hanan Abdalla Filmmaker
Haytham Bayasi translator, editor
Hilary Rose Emerita Professor of Social Policy University of Bradford
Hilary Wise Retired senior lecturer, Queen Mary, University of London
Harriet Walter Actor
Ian McDonald Newcastle University
Ian Parker Emeritus Professor of Management, University of Leicester
Ilan Pappe historian
Izzat Darwazeh Professor, University College London
James Dickins Prof. of Arabic, University of Leeds
James Krishna Floyd Actor/Writer
Jamila Boughelaf Dancer
Jananne Al-Ani Artist
Jane Elliott King’s College London
Janet Watson University of Leeds
Jared Margulies University of Sheffield
Jas Nijjar Brunel University London
Jason Hird dancer
Javed Majeed King’s College London
Jawed Siddiqi Sheffield Hallam Univesity
Jayne Davies Heritage Project Officer
Jeff Young Writer
Jennifer Fearon Sheffield Hallam University
Jo Beck Art Director
John Hextall Company manager
John Morgan artist
John Narayan Birmingham City University
John Rwothomach Director/Playwright/Actor
Jon Pullman Filmmaker
Jonathan Gilhooly Lecturer, University of Brighton
Jonathan Meth Curator, The Fence network; Associate Lecturer, Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths; Visiting Fellow, Department of Film, Theatre & Television, University of Reading
Jonathan Rosenhead Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics
Jonathan Tate
Kalpana Wilson Birkbeck, University of London
Kani Artist
Karen Grainger Sheffield Hallam University
Karren Winchester Actor
Katucha Bento University of Leeds
Kellie Thompson Liverpool Hope University
Ken Jones Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths, University of London
Ken Loach filmmaker
Khaldoun Shami Academic Researcher in Documentary Film, Secularism and Minorities
Kooj Chuhan Artist and Filmmaker
L Whitworth University of Brighton
Laura Mulvey Professor, Birkbeck College, University of London
Lee Jasper Professor at UNI. Under No Illusions
Leon Sealey-Huggins Lecturer University of Warwick
Lisa Stampnitzky Lecturer in Politics, University of Sheffield
Louise Purbrick University of Brighton
Lowkey Musician
Lucy Hanson Senior Lecturer, Liverpool Hope University
Lyndsey Stonebridge Professor of. Humanites and Human Rights, University of Birmingham
LynneSegal Birkbeck, University of London
Madhav Sharma Actor
Madhu Krishnan Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Writing, University of Bristol
Majd University lecturer
Manick Govinda Freelance Arts Consultant
Manju Gregory Kabutar theatre
Marcella Mameli-Badi Ceramicist, teacher
Margareta Kern Lecturer, Falmouth University
Matthew Zajac Artistic Director, Dogstar Theatre company
Maxine Community Advocacy
Mazen Masri City, University of London
Meg Oxford Creative Director
Mica Nava Emeritus Professor, University of East London
Mike Dibb Independent UK Documentary Producer/Director
Mim Shaikh Broadcaster / Actor / Spoken Word Artist
Miriam Margolyes Actress
Miss Nicole Mailer Freelance Arts worker
Musheir El-Farra Film Maker
Nadia Edmond Principal lecturer Education, university of Brighton
Nadia Sibany Dancer
Nadje Al-Ali SOAS University of London
Neve Gordon Queen Mary University of London
Nicholas Harrison King’s College London
Noga RItter singer-songwriter, artist, workshop facilitator
Nooshin Farhid Artist & Associate Lecturer MAFA
Nora Parr SOAS, University of London
Norman Walshe Film production design
Omar Aysha Filmmaker
Patrick Williams Manchester Metropolitan University
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Paul Mason Journalist
Penny Woolcock writer/director
Pete kaLu Artist
Peter Chand Professional Storyteller
Peter Jones Sheffield Hallam Universtiy
Philomena Harrison Psychiatric Social worker/senior lecturer in Social work
Photini Vrikki Brunel University London
Prof John S Yudkin University College London
Prof. Bob Brecher University of Brighton
Prof. Hagit Borer FBA Queen Mary University of London
Rachel Garfield University of Reading
Rachel Seoighe Lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent
Raisah Ahmed Screenwriter & Director
Ramzy Suleiman Musician 47soul
Rasha Soliman University of Leeds
Ray Bush Professor of African Studies and Development Politics, University of Leeds
Rebecca Hayes Laughton Theatre Producer/Director & Drama school lecturer
Rebecca O’Brien Film producer
Rebecca Ruth Gould University of Birmingham
Rehan Sheikh Actor
Remi Joseph-Salisbury Presidential Fellow, University of Manchester
Revd Canon Garth Hewitt musician
Richard Kuper Researcher
Rinella Cere Sheffield Hallam University
Roger waters Musician
RogerJames Elsgood Independent producer.
Roy Battersby Director
Russell Honeyman MA Fine Art 2019
Ruth ABOU RACHED University of Cambridge (alumni)
S. Sayyid Professor,
Sadia Habib Independent Researcher
Sadia Zulfiqar Academic/ LCWU, LUMS, Lahore, Pakistan
Saeed Taji Farouky director cinematographer
Samir Bhamra Creative Director of UK Asian Film Festival
Samir Eskanda Musician
Sara Haq Artist
Sarah Beddington Artist and filmmaker
Sarah Crafter The Open University
Sarah Griffin Free lance illustrator
Sarita Malik Professor of Media, and Creative Interruptions Principal Investigator, Brunel University London
Scott Massie Liverpool Hope University
Serena Spadoni Teacher
Shahd Abusalama Dancer and researcher at Sheffield Hallam University
Shirin Housee University of Wolverhampton
Sita Brand Producer and Storyteller
Sophia Brown Birkbeck, University of London
Stephania Goswami Artist
Steven Rose Emeritus professor, The Open University
Susan Trangmar Reader in Fine Art UAL
Sylvia Ferreira Dance artist
Taghrid Choucair Vizoso Artist & Producer
Tahra Anitya Activist, writer, actor
Tanzil Chowdhury Lecturer in Public Law, Queen Mary, University of London
Tarek Younis Psychologist
Tariq Mehmood Writer/Asst Professor
Terry Meade Principal Lecturer University of Brighton
Tim Allen Animator
Tim Garratt Musician
Tina Gharavi Filmmaker, Academic Newcastle University
Tom Hickey Principal Lecturer in Philosophy and Aesthetics, University of Brighton
Tony Erizia Musician, band leader
Tracy Ramsey University Tutor
Uriel Orlow University of Westminster, London
Virinder S Kalra University of Warwick
Virpi Kettu Media, teacher
Virtual Migrants Association Artists’ Collective
Yasmin Khan Youth worker
Yasmin Wilde Actress


Mike Leigh, Leila Sansour, Pratibha Parmar, Ken Loach and others say UK cinemas should boycott Israeli film festival Seret

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.


“We’re shocked and dismayed to see how many mainstream cinemas – among them Picturehouse and Everyman – are hosting this year’s Israeli film festival, Seret, whose funders and supporters include the Israeli government and a clutch of pro-Israel advocacy organisations. Two months ago, a commission set up by the UN human rights council concluded that the actions of Israeli soldiers against Palestinian participants in the Great March of Return in Gaza may constitute “war crimes or crimes against humanity”. “Particularly alarming,” said a member of the commission, was “the targeting of children and persons with disabilities.”

This UN report is the latest in 70 years of reports of mass expulsions, killings, house demolitions, detention without trial, torture, military occupation and military onslaught against the indigenous population, the Palestinians. But none of this appears to disturb the cinemas involved in the festival. One is even housing a fundraising screening for an organisation that sponsors non-Israelis to join the Israeli army.

By comparison, we note the instant resort to boycott by people outraged by Brunei’s legislating to have LGBT people and alleged adulterers stoned to death (Celebrities boycott Brunei-owned hotels over country’s new anti-LGBT laws, 4 April; Sultan of Brunei, who passed anti-LGBT laws, owns slew of luxury UK properties, 15 April). We’re outraged too. But if George Clooney, Elton John and a host of others can instantly embrace a boycott to put pressure on Brunei, what is stopping programmers at Picturehouse and elsewhere doing the same in relation to Israel?

We cannot understand why cultural institutions continue to behave as if Israel is an ordinary democracy. It is not. Palestinians deserve better than this. UK cinemas should not be hosting Seret.”

Amir Amirani Director, producer
Roy Battersby Director
Haim Bresheeth Writer, film-maker
David Calder Actor
Prof Ian Christie Film writer, broadcaster
Dror Dayan Film-maker
Helen de Witt Film programmer
Saeed Taji Farouky Film-maker
Deborah Golt DJ, broadcaster
Ashley Inglis Screenwriter
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Mike Leigh Writer, director
Ken Loach Director
Sophie Mayer Film critic, curator
Rebecca O’Brien Producer
Pratibha Parmar Writer, director
William Raban Film-maker
Leila Sansour Director
John Smith Artist, film-maker
Penny Woolcock Film-maker


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.

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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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Call for support for ‘Ambulance’ director Mohamed Jabaly


The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and the Norwegian Immigration Tribunal have refused to grant Palestinian film-maker Mohamed Jabaly a work visa to allow him to tour with his first film, Ambulance (2016), and to make a second film with his Norwegian producers, in Tromsø, Norway. Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) is shocked at this decision, calls on the Norwegian government to rescind it, and invites others to join in this call.

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