Cultural Boycott

OVERVIEW

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.

Abstract: 

Like most seasoned conductors, Zubin Mehta has built his reputation on interpretations of a core repertory, in his case the music of Romantic-era giants like Bruckner, Tchaikovsky and Mahler. But on tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble that named him music director for life in 1981, he is increasingly in demand for his exegesis of a long-winded drama fueled by high passions of a different kind: Middle East politics.

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MEDIA CONTACT: info@adalahny.org

October 29, New York, NY – Outside Manhattan’s normally staid Lincoln Center cultural complex tonight, 50 New Yorkers delivered a clear message rejecting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) deliberate use of art to whitewash Israel’s systematic and brutal repression of the rights of the Palestinian people. The IPO, which was holding a fundraising concert, calls itself “Israel’s musical ambassador throughout the country and the world” and helps to project a positive image of Israel, diverting attention from Israel’s human rights abuses, as part of the Israeli government’s “Brand Israel” initiative.

Many of the well-dressed patrons, who had paid up to $5000 apiece for tickets to the IPO concert at the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, looked disturbed to encounter a radical marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra (RMO), and a crowd of protesters with chants that included, “Your orchestra is classy, your piano is so grand, we’d love to have you play for us when you stop stealing land;” and “Oboe, trumpet and bassoon, apartheid is out of tune.”

Other passers-by read the literature being distributed by protesters and, in some cases, took up signs and joined the demonstration. Eight dancers in a second floor Alice Tully Hall studio with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the protest, inspired by the RMO’s renditions of “Which Side Are You On?” and “We Shall Not Be Moved,” treated the crowd to an impromptu dance performance.

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