Cultural Boycott


We are conscientious artists who support justice, human rights, equality, and democracy in the Middle East and around the world. Consequently, we are dismayed by Carnegie Hall’s upcoming October 2012 hosting of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The IPO is an organization that whitewashes Israel’s ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians. We call on Carnegie Hall to cancel the IPO’s upcoming October performance for reasons set forth in greater detail below.

How the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Whitewashes Israel’s Oppression of Palestinians

The IPO is not an apolitical cultural institution; it is actively complicit in whitewashing Israeli human rights abuses, apartheid, and occupation of Palestinian land.

In 2006, the Israeli government launched a public relations initiative called “Brand Israel,” which seeks to use art and music to distract from Israel’s human rights violations. According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by sending Israeli artists and musicians abroad, “you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” The IPO website aptly notes that the Orchestra serves as “Israel’s musical ambassador throughout the country and the world.” American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra calls the IPO “Israel’s finest cultural emissary” and notes that “[t]he goodwill created by these tours … is of enormous value to the State of Israel.” This cynical use of art and music serves to obscure Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, home demolitions in Jerusalem, kidnappings, bombings, multiple forms of collective punishment, and countless other grave abuses.

The New Yorker


Now and then, Ohad Naharin tells a journalist what he thinks about his country’s politics. “There is so much hatred,” he said to Anna Kisselgoff of the Times some years ago, “and I’m not talking about any particular group.” I think he is talking about a particular group, but that doesn’t mean that the other group likes him. Outside BAM last night was a group of pro-Palestinians, chanting and waving placards to the effect that BAM should not have invited a company from Israel.


New York, NY, March 7, 2012 – Eighty New York human rights activists and cultural workers gathered tonight to protest Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company’s performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Calling on attendees to boycott Batsheva due to its complicity with Israeli human rights violations, activists sang, chanted, played music, and danced. Parodying a piece of Batsheva’s newest show, Hora, Adalah-NY was joined by the Columbia University Palestinian Dabke Brigades and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra in a costumed Star Wars-themed dance representing the struggle between good and evil. Protesters chanted, “Their range of motion cannot hide / Their support for apartheid!” and “BAM, you’ve got to draw the line / Freedom for Palestine!”

In its opening statement of 2012, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel declares that "it is time to take a stand to end all forms of complicity with Israeli academic and cultural institutions; they are key partners in the Israeli regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid." In the context of what PACBI has called "a year to further intensify academic boycott," this roundtable brings together faculty and activists in Canada and the United States who are active in the global BDS movement.