[News] Musicians and performers call for a cultural boycott of Israel
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 15 12:29:40 EST 2006
John Berger and 93 other authors, film-makers,
musicians and performers call for a cultural boycott of Israel
Press Release, PACBI, 15 December 2006
Israel solders arrest a Palestinian protester
during the weekly demonstration against the
separation wall in the village of Bil'in near the
West Bank city of Ramallah, December 8, 2006.
PACBI is pleased to announce that in a letter
that appears in today's Guardian, the 94,
including the renowned author John Berger; UK
musicians and song-writers Brian Eno and Leon
Rosselson; filmmakers Sophie Fiennes, Elia
Suleiman and Haim Bresheeth; documentary maker
Jenny Morgan; singer Reem Kelani; writers
Arundhati Roy, Ahdaf Soueif, and Eduardo Galeano,
call on their colleagues not to visit, exhibit or perform in Israel.
letter with the full list of signatories comes
after the August 2006 statement issued by
Palestinian filmmakers, artists, writers, and
other cultural workers calling for a cultural boycott of Israel.
The Berger letter, signed by artists from across
Europe, North and South America, as well as Palestinians and Israelis, reads:
"There is a fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, albeit
daily violated by Israeli overflights. Meanwhile
the day to day brutality of the Israeli army in
Gaza and the West Bank continues. Ten
Palestinians are killed for every Israeli death;
more than 200, many of them children, have been
killed since the summer. UN resolutions are
flouted, human rights violated as Palestinian
land is stolen, houses demolished and crops
destroyed. For archbishop Desmond Tutu, as for
the Jewish (former ANC military commander
presently South African minister of security),
Ronnie Kasrils, the situation of the Palestinians
is worse than that of black South Africans under
apartheid. Meantime Western governments refer to
Israel's 'legitimate right' of self-defence, and continue to supply weaponry.
The challenge of apartheid was fought better. The
non-violent international response to apartheid
was a campaign of boycott, divestment, and,
finally UN imposed sanctions which enabled the
regime to change without terrible bloodshed.
Today Palestinians teachers, writers, film-makers
and non-governmental organisations have called
for a comparable academic and cultural boycott of
Israel as offering another path to a just peace.
This call has been endorsed internationally by
university teachers in many European countries,
by film-makers and architects, and by some brave
Israeli dissidents. It is now time for others to
join the campaign ¡ as Primo Levi asked: If not now, when?
We call on creative writers and artists to
support our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues by
endorsing the boycott call. Read the Palestinian call (www.pacbi.org).
Don't visit, exhibit or perform in Israel!"
To endorse the letter and add your name, contact
<mailto:info at bricup.org.uk>info at bricup.org.uk
From John Berger:
I would like to make a few personal remarks about
this world-wide appeal to teachers, intellectuals
and artists to join the cultural boycott of the
state of Israel, as called for by over a hundred
Palestinian academics and artists, and - very
importantly - also by a number of Israeli public
figures, who outspokenly oppose their country's
illegal occupation of the Palestine territories
of the West Bank and Gaza. Their call is
attached, together with my After Guernica
drawing. I hope you will feel able to add your
signature, to the attached letter, which we
intend to publish in national newspapers.
The boycott is an active protest against two
forms of exclusion which have persisted, despite
many other forms of protestations, for over sixty
years -for almost three generations.
During this period the state of Israel has
consistently excluded itself from any
international obligation to heed UN resolutions
or the judgement of any international court. To
date, it has defied 246 Security Council Resolutions!
As a direct consequence seven million
Palestinians have been excluded from the right to
live as they wish on land internationally
acknowledged to be theirs; and now increasingly,
with every week that passes, they are being
excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation.
As Nelson Mandela has pointed out, boycott is not
a principle, it is a tactic depending upon
circumstances. A tactic which allows people, as
distinct from their elected but often craven
governments, to apply a certain pressure on those
wielding power in what they, the boycotters,
consider to be an unjust or immoral way. (In
white South Africa yesterday and in Israel today,
the immorality was, or is being, coded into a form of racist apartheid).
Boycott is not a principle. When it becomes one,
it itself risks to become exclusive and racist.
No boycott, in our sense of the term, should be
directed against an individual, a people, or a
nation as such. A boycott is directed against a
policy and the institutions which support that
policy either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not
to reject, but to bring about change.
How to apply a cultural boycott? A boycott of
goods is a simpler proposition, but in this case
it would probably be less effective, and speed is
of the essence, because the situation is
deteriorating every month (which is precisely why
some of the most powerful world political
leaders, hoping for the worst, keep silent.).
How to apply a boycott? For academics it's
perhaps a little clearer - a question of
declining invitations from state institutions and
explaining why. For invited actors, musicians,
jugglers or poets it can be more complicated. I'm
convinced, in any case, that its application
should not be systematised; it has to come from a
personal choice based on a personal assessment.
For instance. An important mainstream Israeli
publisher today is asking to publish three of my
books. I intend to apply the boycott with an
explanation. There exist, however, a few small,
marginal Israeli publishers who expressly work to
encourage exchanges and bridges between Arabs and
Israelis, and if one of them should ask to
publish something of mine, I would unhesitatingly
agree and furthermore waive aside any question of
author's royalties. I don't ask other writers
supporting the boycott to come necessarily to
exactly the same conclusion. I simply offer an example.
What is important is that we make our chosen
protests together, and that we speak out, thus
breaking the silence of connivance maintained by
those who claim to represent us, and thus
ourselves representing, briefly by our common
action, the incalculable number of people who
have been appalled by recent events but lack the
opportunity of making their sense of outrage effective.
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