Press Release

Ex-Leviev staffer testifies company bribed NYPD to quash protests at diamond store

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21, 2017, New York, NY - On Saturday New York human rights advocates celebrated the closure of the showcase Madison Avenue diamond store of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev by singing social justice-themed holiday carols for the eleventh consecutive year outside Leviev’s now former store. The closure of Leviev’s signature New York store followed 30 protests since its opening ten years ago, years of condemnations of Leviev’s businesses’ human right records, and a raft of conflicts and controversies involving the businesses in the Leviev Group of Companies.

Protesters outside the former Leviev store on Saturday sang Adalah-NY holiday boycott classics including We Wish Him a Loss of BusinessI Made a Little SettlementO Little Store on Madison, and Diamond Mines.

Video

Israel's war on free speech

Sarah Schulman, Susan Abulhawa, Aja Monet and Radhika Sainath at Verso Books in Brooklyn, September 18, 2017.

Writers Susan Abulhawa and Sarah Schulman, poet Aja Monet, and legal expert Radhika Sainath discuss the repression of Palestinian cultural production as well as the increasingly harsh attempts here in the United States to silence criticism of Israeli government policies.

Press Release

New York, NY, July 24 – An Israeli government-supported theater initiative begins tonight at Lincoln Center, despite a protest letter signed by over 80 artists. The Lincoln Center performances are taking place against a backdrop of heightened Israeli government repression of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and revelations that 43 Senators hope to implement a law that could make it a felony for Americans to support similar boycott protests against Israel. Reported plans by Israel’s anti-Palestinian Minister of Culture Miri Regev to travel to New York for the performances underline the importance the hardline Israeli government places on its Lincoln Center partnership.

In the letter to Lincoln Center the artists called for the cancellation of Monday’s performance because it is part of the Israeli government’s Brand Israel public relations strategy and because the Israeli theater groups involved, Ha’Bima and Cameri, have played in and legitimized Israel’s illegal settlements. The signers of the letter to Lincoln Center include winners of numerous theater awards, including four Pulitzers, three Tonys, and nine Obies.

Web Action

Katherine Farley, Chairman of the Board, Lincoln Center
Debora L. Spar, President, Lincoln Center

Dear Ms. Farley and Ms. Spar,

As supporters of the arts and human rights, we are writing you to express our grave concern that Lincoln Center will be hosting Israel’s Ha’bima National Theatre and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv from July 24 – 27 for performances of the play “To the End of the Land.”  Lincoln Center’s website notes that these performances will occur “With support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.”  It is deeply troubling that Lincoln Center, one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, is helping the Israeli government to implement its systematic “Brand Israel” strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state's decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation and denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people. We call on Lincoln Center to avoid complicity with Brand Israel by cancelling these performances by Ha’bima and Cameri.

In 2006 Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) launched its “Brand Israel” public relations strategy which aimed to “rebrand” Israel by representing the country as “relevant and modern,” while “avoiding any discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians.”  An important component of “Brand Israel” involves promoting the country as a progressive center of the arts and culture.  This was articulated by a MoFA official who, following one of Israel’s periodic military assaults on the Gaza Strip, told the New York Times, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits …This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”  The advertised support by “Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America” for Ha’bima and Cameri’s performance at Lincoln Center fits precisely within that Israeli government strategy.

Press Release

Love Culture, Hate ApartheidNew York, NY, July 5, 2017 - In a letter made public today, over sixty theater artists have called on Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a leading US arts institution located in Manhattan, to cancel Israeli government-sponsored performances by two Israeli theater companies scheduled for July 24 – 27. The signers of the letter have won numerous awards for their work in theater, including four Pulitzer Prizes, three Tony Awards, and nine Obie Awards. The letter signed by the artists asserts that the performances by Israel’s Ha’bima National Theatre and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv will help “the Israeli government to implement its systematic ‘Brand Israel’ strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state's decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation and denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people."

Lincoln Center is advertising the performances by the Israeli theater companies as presented “With support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.” The artists’ letter says that the performances are part of the Israeli government’s “Brand Israel” public relations strategy which, according to an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, sends “well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits…This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” The artists also criticize Ha’bima and Cameri theaters because, despite past opposition from artists, they have repeatedly performed in and legitimized Israel’s illegal settlements built on Israeli-occupied Palestinian land. The letter calls on Lincoln Center “to respect the Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of those Israeli cultural institutions that are complicit in the denial of Palestinian rights.”