November 19, New York, NY –  Demonstrators protesting the performance of Israeli musician Idan Raichel overflowed police barricades in front of Symphony Space Tuesday evening (PHOTOS). With creative signs, songs, poetry, dance and hip-hop performances, over 60 New Yorkers braved the sub-freezing temperatures to highlight the contradiction between Raichel’s self-image as a representative of a “tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel” and his role as a cultural ambassador for Israel and its brutal policies toward Palestinians.

Raichel’s image as a musician who crosses cultural boundaries has made him an important cultural ambassador for Israel in its rebranding campaign. Israeli Foreign Ministry official Andy David said of Raichel: “I think Idan is maybe the best ambassador that Israel has through his music and his inclusiveness.” Raichel has affirmed his role in drumming up support for the Israeli government, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara].”

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November 13, 2014, New York, NY - On busy Lafayette Avenue outside Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 80 New Yorkers gathered last night to dance and sing in protest of Batsheva Dance Company's performances in BAM's 2014 Next Wave Festival (photos). Batsheva's appearance is part of the “Brand Israel” initiative designed to distract from the facts of Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, and its denial of rights to Palestinians the world over. The demonstration was organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by 15 other local human rights organizations including the BDS Arts Coalition, Brooklyn For Peace, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the Ya-Ya Network.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs touts Batsheva as "perhaps the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture." Batsheva is funded in part by that government office as well as by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. While Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin has criticized Israeli abuses of Palestinians, Batsheva Dance Company continues in its role as a prominent cultural ambassador of the Israeli state.

November 4, 2014, New York, NY - In a public letter, over 4000 individuals and 50 groups from around the world have called for the New York-based World Music Institute (WMI) to cancel their presentation of a concert by Israeli musician Idan Raichel on November 18 at New York City’s Symphony Space due to Raichel’s role as a cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.” Raichel will be performing with the Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré.

Current signatories to the letter calling on WMI to drop Raichel include filmmaker and WMI honorary board member Mira Nair; the Grammy-nominated Haitian band Boukman Eksperyans, scheduled to perform with WMI in May; Egyptian writer and activist Ahdaf Soueif; musician Shubha Mudgal; writer and art critic Lucy Lippard; poet Ammiel Alcalay; actor David Clennon; the Palestinian hip hop group DAM; playwright Naomi Wallace; and groups from the US, India, South Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.

October 27, 2014 – The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported today (article in English) that representatives from Africa Israel (AI) and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus, targets of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say they will stop building Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Yedioth Ahronoth reported that protests against settlement construction beyond the Green Line were among the main reasons for AI’s decision. The Israeli newspaper cited Africa Israel’s past construction the settlements of Har Homa, Gilo, Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, and Mattityahu East. However, Adalah-NY believes that this announcement - undoubtedly the result of seven years of pressure generated by Adalah-NY and allied groups worldwide and a sign of the growing strength of the BDS movement - should be greeted with vigilance because Africa Israel has in the past made similar statements that proved to be untrue.

In fact, according to the Israeli watchdog group Who Profits, “In October 2010, in an official letter to Who Profits, Africa-Israel stated: ‘Neither the company nor any of its subsidiaries and/or other companies controlled by the company are presently involved in or has any plans for future involvement in development, construction or building of real estate in settlements in the West Bank.’ However, the company soon after received a 78 million shekel contract to construct the C-Jerusalem project in the settlement neighborhood of Gilo in East Jerusalem.”

Tell the World Music Institute that presenting Idan Raichel is not in line with your values or theirs.

This letter was emailed to the World Music Institute on October 2, 2014. After WMI failed to respond it was made public here on October 9.


 

To the staff and board of the World Music Institute:

As organizations and individuals who support the struggle for justice, human rights, equality and democracy in the Middle East, we are contacting you because we do not feel that Idan Raichel’s presence on the Symphony Space stage (scheduled for November 18, 2014) for a concert presented by the World Music Institute is in keeping with our values or yours. Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with.”

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel endorsed a demonstration at the Brooklyn Nets - Maccabi Tel Aviv game on Tuesday, Oct. 7.  The demonstration was centered around protesting the Nets' hosting of 12 Israeli Defense Forces members who participated in this summer's military attack on Gaza.  That attack killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, including more than 500 children.  This demonstration concluded at 8 p.m., hours before the Nets game ended. According to reports that have been brought to our attention, the NYPD is investigating an incident in which a Mr. Leonard Petlakh claimed he was attacked by "pro-Palestinian demonstrators" after the game and sustained a broken nose.

Adalah-NY wants to make clear that the demonstration and the alleged assault on Mr. Petlakh are two distinct events, occurring at different times of day. The demonstration was a peaceful protest and should not be conflated with a post-game altercation.

Tell the Brooklyn Book Festival to no longer accept partnerships with the Israeli government or complicit institutions.

To the Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council:

We, the undersigned, including participants and exhibitors at the Brooklyn Book Festival, recently noticed that the festival has chosen to accept support from Israel's Office of Cultural Affairs in New York for one of its panels.

It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel's bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead, displaced a fourth of the population, destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals, and involved numerous potential war crimes. Sustaining a partnership with the Israeli Consulate at this time amounts to a tacit endorsement of Israel's many violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

New York, NY, September 2, 2014 - On August 23, the Los Angeles group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) released a widely reported on statement in Billboard Magazine - “200 Hollywood Heavyweights Support Israel.” What was not reported is that CCFP is a “creative” front group for the right-wing, pro Israeli settler nonprofit StandWithUs, that has a close relationship with the Israeli government. Though CCFP carefully avoids explaining this on their website and materials, CCFP is the same legally-registered nonprofit as StandWithUs (SWU), and, as of October 2013, operated from within SWU’s LA office.

Felice Gelman from Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel commented, “We wonder if CCFP explained to the Hollywood luminaries who signed its statement, like Ziggy Marley and Sarah Silverman, that its apolitical message of ‘art building bridges for peace’ is actually a sanitizing front for the right-wing, pro-settler organization StandWithUs, that has deep ties to the Israeli government? We are also concerned that US media covering the statement did not report on who CCFP really is.”