Israel Philharmonic to be met with protests across the US during February/March tour

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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.

The US protests respond to the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott institutions that work to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and whitewash the oppression of Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and in exile. The growing international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has gained momentum in recent years with more supporters worldwide, and performers like Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, Devendra Banhart, and the Pixies all refusing to play in Israel.

By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is supporting the Israeli government's “Brand Israel” initiative, a campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to divert public attention from Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and “show Israel’s prettier face, so we [Israel] are not thought of purely in the context of war.” The IPO 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.” American Friends of the IPO further notes that "the goodwill created by [the IPO's] 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 partners with Leviev, whose companies have built illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and have been involved in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa. Leviev's companies have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian government, Hollywood stars and international investment firms because of these activities.

In 2004, Palestinian civil society, led by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), called on colleagues in the international community to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel respects Palestinians’ basic rights. A year later, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society groups. The Palestinian BDS movement is a nonviolent campaign for Palestinian rights inspired by the international boycott campaign that helped to abolish apartheid in South Africa.