Artists’ statements on Trump and occupied Jerusalem

Today’s edition of The Guardian (December 12) carries a letter signed by one hundred artists, including prominent writers, filmmakers, and musicians, in response to Trump’s ‘recognition’ of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.   The signatories, who include actors Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton and musician Peter Gabriel, said:

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city […]

We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.

As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.

The full list of signatories is published here.

Separately, some of the artists have issued their own individual statements, one of them in verse. We are proud to publish responses by poet Michael Rosen, musicians Peter Gabriel and Robert Wyatt, playwright Caryl Churchill, writers Selma Dabbagh, Hari Kunzru and Ahmed Masoud, producer Kate Parker, filmmaker Ken Loach, and more below.


Image: historic photo of Jerusalem sourced from the Centre for Palestine Studies


Facts on the Ground


How wise and thoughtful the MPs sound

talking about Israel and the ‘facts on the ground’!

They have ‘reservations about Donald Trump’,

they get a few laughs by calling him a chump

Then they add it’s such a terrible pity

he’s declared that Jerusalem’s the capital city

but then on cue they bring it back round

to talk of Israel and the ‘facts on the ground’.


Funny they should mention that word ‘ground’

’cause anyone who’s looked has always found

that that ground, that land, has always had facts:

they are people who, after many attacks

no longer have great stretches of that land

It’s almost as if, from the start, it was planned

so if it was ‘clever’ that I wanted to sound

I could say these people are facts OFF the ground


So a logical, factual, thoughtful little phrase

is used by our politicians to give some praise

to premiers and generals with a serious intention

to uproot, remove, destroy (but not mention)

the ground and the facts where this takes place.

Politicians on TV with solemn face

appear to condemn Trump for what he’s said,

but choose to ignore the dispossessed and the dead.

Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate


This is not about two  equal powers competing for the same city. It is an extension of Israel’s illegal occupation.

Caryl Churchill, playwright


Jerusalem must encompass the hopes and dreams of all its peoples and religions, not just those with the most political, economic and military power.

Trump wants to deliver something for those that funded him, but this ‘gift of gifts’ will further encourage an Israeli government that has overseen and encouraged terrible suffering, the theft of yet more Palestinian land through illegal settlements and a very cynical rejection of the “Two State Solution”.

I hope these protests will trigger a reaction around the world to condemn all the human rights abuses inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government  and by the occupation, and lead to active international support for all those inside and outside Israel working for a just and fair peace and an independent Palestinian state – largely along the previously agreed ‘67 lines.

‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’  Albert Einstein

Peter Gabriel, musician

A hundred years ago , Jerusalem was still so ecumenically varied, at a crossroad to the wider world.  That cultural bio-diversity [Armenian/Christian/Jewish/ Muslim etc] was its magic.

The current nationalist push to create a monoculture there, really does seem to me to be, by contrast, incredibly dull-witted.

Robert Wyatt, musician


For us Palestinians, Jerusalem is not about the stones, buildings or historical value.   It’s important for us because it is a symbol of hope, that one day we, too, will have our own state with a capital that has deep roots in the past and offers a place to everyone now and in the future.   Jerusalem for us is about believing that the future will be better than the current state of affairs, that Israeli occupation won’t last forever and some sort of peace deal will take place, that the siege of Gaza will end, checkpoints will disappear and settlements will stop expanding and  will be even dismantled.

Donald Trump has spoiled that dream and hope for us and woke us up to the ugly reality of the occupation and colonialism, imposing his version of what a peace deal should look like. However, we are still here, the Palestinians, the artists, the workers, the doctors, the lawyers, the Diaspora, the farmers, the supporters and the believers in human rights and justice.   We will continue to challenge this unjust decision until the last word we have to write.

Ahmed Masoud, writer & director



The Palestinian population of Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular has been systematically uprooted from its homeland by methods ranging from the legal to the brutal. Legality, in the form of national laws, is used as a tool of oppression by the Israeli government to strangle the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian Jerusalemites. Brutality backs up these iniquitous provisions. It is for the international community to uphold the role of international law in countering injustices, rather than becoming sway to the provocative cowboy mentality and actions of the Trump administration and its international allies.

Selma Dabbagh, writer



This announcement has little to do with any good-faith effort to bring peace to Israel and Palestine. Like so many actions of the current US administration, it is destructive and ill thought-out. It seems primarily intended to appeal to the President’s domestic base, among whom are Evangelicals who believe that Jewish control of Jerusalem will hasten the end of history and the inauguration of God’s kingdom on earth. A policy born out of a toxic combination of narcissism and political expediency will serve only to make life more difficult for those who have to manage the situation on the ground.

Hari Kunzru, writer



Please British government, do the right thing and recognise Palestine. Acknowledge your part in this and lead the way out of it. I spent a week in Gaza in 2014, as the war began, these people have learnt such strength and resilience but it is time they had their human rights restored.

Kate Parker, producer


This is a‎ big challenge for the United Nations.   The UN should immediately reaffirm the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.   The UN should recognise the state of Palestine and, crucially, open an appropriate bureau in East Jerusalem specifically for links with the Palestinians.   Then there should be a call for other countries to open embassies to the state of Palestine in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians have many friends. Where are they now‎?

Ken Loach, film director


Jd Meatyard is taking Trump’s malevolent move as a positive, why?

Because Trump’s action has stirred the shameful apathy of politicians on a global scale, the politicians content to see the establishment of apartheid in Palestine, the politicians blind to the systemic abuse of Palestinians on a daily basis.

Now, right now, is a pivotal moment in which we can shine a big bright luminous light on the plight of Palestine and demand change for the good of the people.

I’m on the side of many many Jewish people, as angry as we artists are at the shameful activities of Netanyahu’s government.

Thanks Mr Trump, you’ve invited the world to look again at Palestine, there will be change!

Jd Meatyard, musician

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was like pouring acid on a festering wound.

Hanan Al-Shaykh, writer

From the web:





London, April 24th  2017

Dear Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway,

You’re listed to play Tel Aviv in July this year.

We’d like to ask you to think again – because by playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people’.   

We understand you’ve been approached already by Palestinian campaigners. They’ve asked you to respect their call for a cultural boycott of Israel, and you’ve turned them down.   Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation. And since Radiohead fronted a gig for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we’re wondering why you’d ignore a call to stand against the denial of those rights when it comes to the Palestinians. 
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