Cultural Boycott

Abstract: 

American folk music legend Pete Seeger has apparently joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), the American musician expressed regret for his previous support of an event sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and threw his support for the BDS movement at a meeting in New York last month.

Update 3/9/2011: Adalah-NY takes factual accuracy extremely seriously. Following the meeting that representatives of Adalah-NY and ICAHD had with Mr. Seeger, all parties reviewed and agreed to the Adalah-NY/ICAHD February 28th press release and the quotes in it before it was issued.

After our February 28th press release, other callers published statements from Mr. Seeger that could be interpreted as somewhat different from those in our press release, quoting him as saying that his “opinions waver” with new information. We do not consider this to be a retraction of his stated support for BDS. We are happy that increasing numbers of performing artists are studying the colonial situation in Palestine and supporting the Palestinian call to pressure Israel through boycott. We applaud Pete Seeger for his active concern with this issue and are certain his statements will encourage other artists to participate as well.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 28, 2011- Folk music legend Pete Seeger has come out in support of the growing Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a program for justice for Palestinians and a route to peace in the Middle East.

Seeger, 92, participated in last November’s online virtual rally “With Earth and Each Other,” sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental organization, and by the Friends of the Arava Institute. The Arava Institute counts among its close partners and major funders the Jewish National Fund, responsible since 1901 for securing land in Palestine for the use of Jews only while dispossessing Palestinians. Although groups in the worldwide BDS movement had requested he quit the event, Seeger felt that he could make a strong statement for peace and justice during the event.

Abstract: 

The 2011 American tour by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a seven-city, eight-concert trek that reached Carnegie Hall, was meant to be a festive occasion. Unquestionably Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic make up a significant and valuable artistic alliance. Still, not everyone was of a mind to celebrate. Opponents of the Israeli government’s policies and actions toward the Palestinians have deemed the orchestra, in its role as one of Israel’s most visible and successful cultural exports, complicit, however quietly.

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February 20, West Palm Beach, FL, The Kravis Center, 7 PM – 8:30 PM, Miami-Dade Green Party
February 22, New York, NY, Carnegie Hall, 5:30 PM – 7:15 PM,  Adalah-NY
February 23, Newark, NJ, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Adalah-NY & People's Organization for Progress (POP)
February 26, Seattle, WA, Benaroya Hall, 7:15 PM – 8:15 PM, Palestine Solidarity Committee – Seattle
February 27, San Francisco, CA, Davies Symphony Hall, 6 PM, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!)
March 1, Los Angeles, CA, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 6:30 PM – 8 PM, BDS-LA

Performances of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) will be met with protests in six of seven cities where the IPO will play during its US tour this February and March. Human rights advocates plan to protest the IPO’s role in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people. The protests will be held at IPO performances in West Palm Beach, New York City, Newark, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Adalah-NY salutes the people's revolution in Egypt!

 

Join Adalah-NY and other groups to protest the
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s NYC performance

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's (IPO) performance is part of its annual national tour, which will be protested in other cities as well. The protests respond to the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott institutions that work to normalize the occupation of Palestinian territories and the oppression of Palestinians in Israel, the territories, and in exile.

The orchestra actively participates in whitewashing Israel's apartheid policies. By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic is supporting the Israeli government's “Brand Israel” initiative, an effort to divert public attention from Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. The orchestra refrains from criticism of Israel's policies, and is described by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as "Israel’s finest cultural emissary,” which “travels throughout the world…The goodwill created by these tours...is of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene."

One corporate sponsor of the IPO's US tour is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who hosted a gala fundraiser last November for the IPO tour at his New York jewelry store. The IPO thus partners with Leviev's companies though they have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian governments, Hollywood stars and international investment firms due to Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements and involvement in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa.

People throughout the Middle East are mobilizing to challenge repressive governments. The people will not tolerate dictatorships or occupations. Join us in the street for a peaceful, meaningful, timely protest against the art-washing of apartheid.

Protest co-sponsors to date (list in formation): Adalah-NY, Artists Against Apartheid - NYC, Al Awda-NY, Hunter Collage SJP, Jews Say No!, Middle East Crisis Response, Palestinian Club of Brooklyn College, NYU - SJP, War Resisters League New York Local, WESPAC, Women in Black-Union Square, Women of a Certain Age.

The Arava Institute’s online event “With Earth and Each Other,” held Sunday, November 14, exemplified why the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is vital. The event was billed as a celebration of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians working together for the environment. But it failed to educate viewers about the most basic facts of Israeli policies, and thus simply reinforced the status quo. The event, billed as not “political,” suggested that the Middle East conflict can be resolved if people of different religions and ethnicities are nicer to each other. It presented no information on the fundamental and systematic inequalities that are at the root of the conflict.

Adalah-NY and numerous other groups had urged participants, including religious and environmental organizations and performing artists like Pete Seeger, Dan Bern, and Mandy Patinkin, to respect the Palestinian boycott call and bow out. Arava Institute was targeted for boycott due to its failure to condemn Israel’s on-going ethnic cleansing of Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, where Arava is based, and Arava’s very close partnerships with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israeli government. The Israeli government and the JNF have been instrumental in cleansing the land of the indigenous Palestinian residents and planting over their villages with trees. While Arava extolls international cooperation in service of the environment, they remain silent about Israeli and JNF policies, including, as one recent example, the Israeli government’s destruction (five times in succession) of Al Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev, to make way for a JNF forest.

 

 

Dear Participants in “With Earth and Each Other,”

November 11, 2010

 

We are writing because we’ve uncovered very troubling new information to add to the information that we have already publicized[i] about Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies[ii] and the online event “With Earth and Each Other: A Rally for a Better Middle East.”[iii] We fully understand that many of you are participating in the event from a sincere desire to build “a better Middle East.” Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear to us that supporting the Arava Institute and this event will actually damage the causes of justice and peace in the Middle East because Arava is a close and seemingly uncritical partner with right-wing institutions that continue to dispossess Palestinians from their homes and communities. Any efforts by Arava and the November 14th event to foster dialogue and improve the environment are just minor sideshows to the larger projects of Palestinian dispossession implemented by Jewish National Fund[iv] and the Israeli government that Arava is serving to legitimize. Therefore, the best action that you can take to help create a better Middle East is to withdraw from this event.

 

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