Cultural boycott is one element of the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) called for by Palestinians and supported by individuals and organizations around the world. BDS aims to place pressure on Israel and sends the message that there will be no business as usual until it ends its occupation, colonization, and apartheid policies. Recognizing that Israeli cultural institutions have failed to respond to their government’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights, and that many institutions are active in whitewashing Israel’s crimes, Palestinians launched the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). In July 2004, PACBI issued a call to international artists to refrain from participating in cultural events in Israel and to international civil society to boycott Israeli-sponsored cultural events around the world.
A performance last month by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was met with protests from Adalah-NY, who urged Carnegie Hall to cancel the orchestra’s appearance in response to the Palestinians’ call for a cultural boycott of the Israeli “apartheid state” that – in their perspective – is occupying Arab land, building settlements, and repressing Palestinians. Zubin Mehta, the Philharmonic’s musical director, summed up the boycott by saying, “As long as they keep building settlements the world will be anti-Israeli.”
The Israel Philharmonic who was headed up by conductor Zubin Mehta have been met with protest almost everywhere they turn in this classical music season with Los Angeles the latest place to see demonstrators assemble at their concerts.
Wherever the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra goes, protests seem to follow. Concert-goers planning to attend Tuesday's performance by the orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall can expect to see a colorful outdoor demonstration of activists who say they oppose Israel's policies toward Palestinians.
The conductor was clearly displeased, and not only by his shabby temporary headquarters. He was unhappy about, but not surprised by news that Adalah-NY was staging yet another protest of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert on Thursday night. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters were among 50 artists and writers who signed a letter demanding that Carnegie Hall cancel the orchestra’s appearance in response to the Palestinians’ call for a cultural boycott of the Israeli “apartheid state” that is occupying Arab land, building settlements, and repressing Palestinians.
One performance will be inside, by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), and the other will take place outside the entrances to Disney Hall.
The IPO performs internationally as a cultural ambassador for Israel. Local protesters want to use the orchestra’s visit to Los Angeles to bring attention to what they call Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
When I received a press release from Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel gleefully informing me that “New Yorkers will protest at Carnegie Hall with music, songs, chants and street theater against the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and its complicity in Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people,” I actually laughed. After a day glued to news reports of missiles and mortars being lobbed at my friends’ homes and worrying about the soldiers – children of friends – serving in the area, it wasn’t hard to think of the planned protest as a bad joke.
Over 60 New Yorkers protested an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) performance at Carnegie Hall on Thursday evening, demonstrating against "Israel's apartheid policies against the Palestinian people."