Open Letter to the Brooklyn Book Festival re Israeli Sponsorship

Tell the Brooklyn Book Festival to no longer accept partnerships with the Israeli government or complicit institutions.

To the Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council:

We, the undersigned, including participants and exhibitors at the Brooklyn Book Festival, recently noticed that the festival has chosen to accept support from Israel's Office of Cultural Affairs in New York for one of its panels.

It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel's bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead, displaced a fourth of the population, destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals, and involved numerous potential war crimes. Sustaining a partnership with the Israeli Consulate at this time amounts to a tacit endorsement of Israel's many violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Israel has systematically attempted to suppress, expropriate and suffocate the art, culture, and literature of Palestinian writers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, and poets. We hope that you agree that partnering with a state that practices occupation, colonialism, and apartheid is paradoxical for a festival that celebrates a "lively literary marketplace."

Since 2005, Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience around the world to engage in a peaceful campaign of boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel in order to force it to comply with international law. The BDS movement has grown exponentially since then, attracting support from a range of cultural and literary figures around the globe.

We appeal to the organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival to refuse the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy or any complicit Israeli institution in the future. This is not, we emphasize, a call to isolate or boycott individual Israelis, but an effort to renounce business as usual with a state that routinely violates international law and basic human rights with impunity. We urge the Brooklyn Book Festival to decline future offers to partner with complicit Israeli institutions on conversations about literature, because to continue to do so is to participate in whitewashing Israel's crimes.

As was the case in South Africa, where international solidarity played a crucial role in bringing down apartheid by boycotting the economic, sports and cultural institutions of the apartheid regime, we sincerely hope you will not partner in any capacity with the Israeli government and other complicit institutions, until the Israeli government fulfills it obligations under international law and fully recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to live in full equality and freedom in their homeland.

* indicates panelist or exhibitor at Brooklyn Book Festival 2014
** indicates past participant in the Brooklyn Book Festival

Individual Signatures

Tanya Shami
Jean RIesman
Kevin Doucette
Gemini Wahhaj
sheonagh schultz
Lorie Meacham
Jeannette Liberman
Mei Wan Chang
George Reichel
Elijah Oberman
Rochelle Santos
kothapalli Ravibabu
Sandra Koponen
Sarah Quinter
Mary Kristjen
Jefferson Vivanco
JM Kirby
Andrew Kempe
Chris Crispoldi
Sonny Singh

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