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.

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].”

Haaretz

Abstract: 

Audience members arriving at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday night to see Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company were treated to an exuberant preshow performance in which dance protested dance. Approximately 60 protesters crowded inside an enclosure of police barricades on the sidewalk: some waved Palestinian flags, some brandished signs proclaiming “Don’t dance around apartheid,” while others danced the dabke, a traditional Arabic communal dance.

Hyperallergic

Abstract: 

Around 50 members of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement gathered at a rally yesterday in response to the premiere performance of Batsheva Dance Company’s four-day run of Sadeh21. Outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), signs and slogans denounced the Israeli Foreign Ministry-funded troupe’s participation in a campaign called “Brand Israel,” which, according to literature distributed by the organizers, seeks “to distract from the facts of Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.”

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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.

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