Leading artists demand accountability for Israel’s killing of Palestinian journalist

Pedro Almodovar, Susan Sarandon, Tilda Swinton, Mark Ruffalo, Eric Cantona, Miriam Margolyes, Jim Jarmusch, Naomi Klein and Peter Gabriel call for “meaningful measures to ensure accountability for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and all other Palestinian civilians.”

*photo of Shireen Abu Akleh by AFP

More than a hundred artists, including Hollywood stars, acclaimed authors and prominent musicians, have condemned Israel’s killing of esteemed Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Actors Susan Sarandon, Tilda Swinton, Mark Ruffalo, Kathryn Hahn and Steve Coogan are among the signatories to an open letter calling for “full accountability for the perpetrators of this crime and everyone involved in authorizing it”. 

Abu Akleh, well-known across the Arab world for her reporting on Israel’s occupation and apartheid system, was shot dead last week while wearing a press vest. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has refuted attempts by Israeli leaders to deflect responsibility.

In a joint statement, film directors Pedro Almodovar, Carol Morley, Boots Riley, Asif Kapadia and Michael Winterbottom join musicians Tom Morello, Massive Attack, Ben UFO and Seun Kuti in supporting calls from Palestinian human rights groups for “proportional, targeted measures to hold Israel to account for its crimes, and to end its impunity”. 

Susan Sarandon added, “I am saddened and angered by the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh and by the appalling attack on her funeral. I now know more than ever that without serious accountability and serious measures by our governments, apartheid and occupation will not end soon”.

The artists and public figures criticised a “pattern of violence, harassment, and intimidation against Palestinian journalists who are shining a light on what Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’Tselem, have described as a system of apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people”.

Citing the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, authors Colm Tóibín, Kamila Shamsie, Arundhati Roy, Philip Pullman and Monica Ali called on Western governments to “end their hypocrisy and to act with consistency in the application of international law and human rights”.

The signatories, who include actor and former footballer Eric Cantona, author Naomi Klein, DJ Marea Stamper (The Blessed Madonna) and author and economist Yanis Varoufakis, concluded: “There must be no double standards when it comes to the basic human right to freedom from persecution and oppression and the right to life and to dignity”.

Letter in full

We are deeply disturbed by the Israeli occupation forces’ killing of the highly respected Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as she arrived, wearing a clearly marked press vest, to report on an Israeli incursion in the occupied city of Jenin last Wednesday. As we grieve her loss, we call for full accountability for the perpetrators of this crime and everyone involved in authorizing it.

The attack by heavily armed Israeli forces on Palestinian mourners further dismayed and horrified us. Soldiers beat and kicked mourners and pallbearers in the grounds of the St. Joseph Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem, to prevent them from carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin and marching to the church for the planned funeral service

What are we to make of the brazenness and cruelty of this attack on human dignity?  

The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is a grave breach of international humanitarian law and an attack on journalism and freedom of expression. UN and international human rights experts have said that it may constitute a war crime and should be subject to an independent, transparent international investigation. Yet, it is far from being an isolated event. 

Israeli forces have killed 45 journalists since 2000, injuring many more, simply for doing their job. These crimes are part of a pattern of violence, harassment, and intimidation against Palestinian journalists who are shining a light on what Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’Tselem, have described as a system of apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people.  

For many years Palestinian human rights and civil society groups have been calling on the international community to take proportional, targeted measures to hold Israel to account for its crimes, and to end its impunity. We fully support this call. 

When Israel’s policies blatantly violate international laws and norms, it is because Western powers have consistently provided diplomatic cover for it to do so. It has not gone unnoticed that while our governments have rushed to impose blanket boycotts and sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of the Ukraine and the cruelty of its attacks on a civilian population, the same governments continue to fund and shield Israel’s decades-long occupation and grave human rights violations against Palestinians. 

Meanwhile, our governments are taking anti-democratic measures to repress their own citizens’ nonviolent campaigns of pressure aimed at holding Israel, and the companies and institutions that are complicit in its system of oppression, to account.

We call on our governments to end their hypocrisy and to act with consistency in the application of international law and human rights. We call on them to take meaningful measures to ensure accountability for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and all other Palestinian civilians. There must be no double standards when it comes to the basic human right to freedom from persecution and oppression and the right to life and to dignity. 

Signed:

Khalid Abdalla, actor

Sama Abdulhadi, DJ

Hany Abu Assad, film director

Tunde Adebimpe, musician

Ahsan Akbar, poet

Yasmine Al Massri, actor

Omar Al Qattan, film director

Monica Ali, author

Candace Allen, writer

Pedro  Almodovar, film director

Anthony Anaxagorou, poet

Ramin Bahrani, film director

Adam Bakri, actor

Saleh Bakri, actor

Clio Barnard, film director

Joslyn Barnes, producer

David Barsamian, author

Roy Battersby, TV director

Sarah Beddington, filmmaker, artist

Ronan Bennett, author, screenwriter

Frances Black, singer

Nicholas Blincoe, author

Iciar Bollain, film director

Juan Diego Botto, actor

Haim Bresheeth, filmmaker, scholar

Victoria Brittain, writer

Adam Broomberg, artist

David Calder, actor

Carmen Callil, publisher, writer

Eric Cantona, actor

Iggor Cavalera, musician 

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, choreographer

Julie Christie, actor

Isabel Coixet, film director

Steve Coogan, actor, comedian

Mark Cousins, writer, director

Liam Cunningham, actor

Selma Dabbagh, writer

Cherien Dabis, film director

William Dalrymple, author

Angela Davis, author

Andy de la Tour, actor

Jeremy Deller, artist

Stephen Dillane, actor

Sara Driver, film director

Ben Ehrenreich, author

Brian Eno, musician

Jodie Evans, producer

Shepard Fairey, artist

David Farr, writer, director

Bella Freud, designer

Peter Gabriel, musician

Costa-Gavras, film director

Michèle Ray Gavras, film producer

Trevor Griffiths, playwright, screenwriter

Kathryn Hahn, actor

Charles Hayward, musican

M Imhotep, musician

Nicolás Jaar, musician 

Gemma Jackson, production designer

Jim Jarmusch, film director

Asif Kapadia, film director

Aki Kaurismaki, film director

John Keane, artist

Brigid Keenan,  author

Patrick Keiller, filmmaker

Peter Kennard, artist

AL Kennedy, author

Jennine Khalik,  journalist

Shaka King, film director

Naomi Klein, author, activist

Peter Kosminsky, screenwriter, director

Jan Kounen, film director

Nancy Kricorian, author

Hari Kunzru, author

Seun Kuti, musician

Lankum, band

Paul Laverty, screenwriter

Mike Leigh, film director

Laima Leyton musician, artist

Jim Loach, film director

Ken Loach, film director

Dónal Lunny, musician

Mahmood Mamdani, author

Miriam Margolyes, actor

Kika Markham, actor

Yann Martel, author

Emer Martin, author

Mai Masri, film director

Massive Attack, band

Rakan Mayası, film director

Kleber Mendonça Filho, film director

Christy Moore, musician

Thurston Moore, musician

Tom Morello, musician

Carol Morley, film director

Laura Mulvey, film scholar

Karthika Nair, poet

Mira Nair, film director

Courttia Newland, author, screenwriter

Pratibha Parmar, film director

Maxine Peake, actor

Aubrey Powell, designer

Philip Pullman, author

Stephen Rea,  actor

Boots Riley, screenwriter, director

Bruce Robbins, author, literary scholar

Olga Rodriguez, author

Jacqueline Rose, author, scholar

Arundhati Roy, author

Mark Ruffalo, actor

Alberto San Juan, actor

Susan Sarandon, actor

Alexei Sayle, comedian, author

James Schamus, screenwriter, producer

Nick Seymour, musician

Kamila Shamsie,author

Tai Shani, artist

Alia Shawkat, actor

Marea Stamper, DJ

Juliet Stevenson, actor

Tilda Swinton, actor

Colm Tóibín, author

Ricky Tomlinson, actor

Ben UFO, DJ

V (formerly Eve Ensler), author, playwright 

Yanis Varoufakis, author

Mirza Waheed, author

Harriet Walter, actor

Roger Waters, musician

Irvine Welsh,  author

Monique Wilson, actor, activist

Jane Wilson, artist

Louise Wilson, artist

Michael Winterbottom, film director

Penny Woolcock, screenwriter, director

Susan Wooldridge, actor

Robert Wyatt, musician

Nick Cave, who is being silenced ?

Artists for Palestine UK statement.

Nick Cave has used the opportunity of a press conference in Israel to speak out about ‘silencing’. People around the world will be surprised to read that Cave has chosen not to speak out about the trial of the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour or the targeting of journalist Makbula Nasser in Israel; nor the indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial of Palestinian artists, journalists and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank; nor of the denial of permits for Palestinians musicians or of cancer patients seeking to exit Gaza.

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Despite threats Kate Tempest affirms her support for Palestinian rights

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) strongly condemns threats made against British artist Kate Tempest as a result of her support for Palestinian rights. A poet, spoken word artist and author, Tempest is one of more than 1200 UK-based artists to sign APUK’s pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of Israel. This conscientious decision by so many principled artists stands in stark contrast to the shameful intimidation tactics, including personal threats, directed against Tempest, which led to the cancellation of her concert, scheduled for October 6th 2017 at Berlin’s former airport Tempelhof. Tempest’s management said that she did not want to perform in an “aggressive atmosphere”, having received “personal threats via email and over social media”, adding that they did not want to risk the safety of her team.

Last month eight artists cancelled appearances at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin, in protest at the festival’s decision to partner with the Israeli embassy in Germany. In response, the festival organisers, media commentators and local politicians condemned these conscientious artists, often in racialised terms, and promoted straight lies about the terms and aims of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement. As the festival drew to a close, the purveyors of this defamatory and abusive rhetoric found a new target, with Kate Tempest identified by German media as a signatory to the APUK pledge. One recent article asked, “Can an anti-Israel activist appear in Berlin?”. Another demanded the city’s Mayor Michael Müller cancel the concert. Continue reading