Palestinian cultural workers are not exempt from the brutality and human rights violations that characterize Israeli treatment of all Palestinians. Palestinian cultural workers have been denied visas by the Israeli military establishment, preventing them from participating in conferences and performances internationally. Artists have been detained at checkpoints, arrested, stripped of instruments, and exposed to the same violence perpetrated by the Israeli army on all Palestinians.Most cultural work is impacted on a daily basis by the realities of occupation and apartheid. Some stories of individual artists and what they have had to face have been collected and illustrated by cartoonist Ethan Heitner. You can read their testimony here:
Samia Halaby (painter)
Larissa Sansour (photographer and video artist)
In a letter to Batsheva Dance Company, written on February 21, 2012, Palestinian dancer Hana Awad, Art Center Director Eman Fakhouri, and dancer Houria Al Far spoke about the impact of the Israeli occupation on them and on other Palestinian cultural workers.
Violinist Tom Suarez has detailed the difficulties and harassment faced by the Palestine National Orchestra from Israeli authorities in an article on the website Mondoweiss.
There have been many other reported instances of Israeli government attacks on Palestinian cultural workers and repression of Palestinian cultural production, including:
In 1987, Israeli authorities closed the cinema in East Jerusalem, and the theater remained closed until Palestinians reopened it in February 2012.
In 2002, Israel prevented the Palestinian poets Zakaria Mohammed and Ghassan Zaqtan from traveling to Ireland to read their work.
In 2002, Israeli soldiers attacked the Al Rowwad cultural and theatre training center in Bethlehem, vandalizing the theater and destroying the equipment.
On July 20th 2003, musician Marwan Abado, an Austrian national of Palestinian origin, was detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for 24 hours and then sent back to Austria, despite having a visa and an invitation from the United National Development Programme.
In May 2009, Israeli soldiers prevented the opening of the Palestine Festival of Literature in Jerusalem. In April 2011, the venue hosting the final event of that year’s festival was attacked with tear gas by the Israeli army.
In 2009, the Israeli authorities banned numerous Palestinian cultural and educational events scheduled to celebrate the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture for that year.
In 2009, Israeli security forces placed Jaffa-based Palestinian theater worker Samieh Jabbarin under house arrest for 10 months for his political activism, only freeing him after an extensive public campaign.
In summer 2011, Israeli commandos assaulted the Freedom Theatre in occupied Jenin, arresting several of its members.
On June 6, 2012, Nabil Al Ra’ee, the Artistic Director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre was taken from his home and detained by the Israeli army, who refused to tell his wife where they took him or why he was being detained.
In 2012, Palestinian-American writer Randa Jarrar was denied entry by Israeli authorities at Ben Gurion airport and deported as she attempted to visit family members.
In February 2013, Israeli forces first abducted broadcast Journalist Musab Shawer Al-Tamimi (22), who worked at Al-Khalil (Hebron) Radio and then sentenced him to 5 months in prison on World Press Freedom Day.
In February 2013, Israel jailed Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh for 5 months, 2 months without charge under “administrative detention” and an additional 3 months after being charged with allowing his cartoons to be used in a book associated with Hamas.
In March 2013, Oday Khatib, Palestinian singer was arrested and beaten by Israeli soldiers and sentenced to three months in prison for allegedly throwing stones.
March 2013, Israel denied Arab artists permits to enter Israel to join the March Freedom Ride in support of the Palestinian Freedom Theater Initiative.
In July 2014, Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar was denied a visa by Israel to participate in a show at the New Museum in New York City.
In June 2015, the Israeli government cut funding of one theater run by Palestinian citizens of Israel, and threatened funding of a second theater, over artistic decisions related to Palestinian rights.
In July 2015, Palestinian animator and artist Amer Shomali was denied a security permit required to visit the American consulate in Jerusalem, meaning he was unable to obtain a visa to attend the premiere of his film ‘The Wanted 18’ in New York City.
In July 2015, Palestinian American novelist Susan Abulhawa was denied entry into Palestine where she was planned to visit family and work on building playgrounds for Palestinian children. After enduring a seven hour wait at the Allenby Bridge in Jordan, including six different interrogations, Abulhawa was told that she would not be allowed to enter.
In October 2015, poet Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested in the middle of the night, imprisoned for three months and charged with incitement for publishing a poem, Resist My People, Resist Them, and two Facebook posts. After release from prison in December, she was placed under house arrest in an apartment outside of Tel Aviv, far from her family home, as her trial continued. In July 2016, ten Pulitzer Prize-winners and a total of 250 notable writers signed a public letter calling for Tatour’s release. Her trial is expected to continue into at least September 2016 before a verdict is reached. Tatour could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.
In December 2015, Palestinian circus school trainer and performer Mohammed Faisal Abu Sakha was arrested at Zaatara checkpoint, near Nablus, and subsequently sent to Israeli military detention. The Israeli army sentenced Abu Sakha to administrative detention based on "confidential information." Abu Sakha continues to be held without charge or trial and deprived of communication with anyone, including his family. Amnesty International, among others, has called for Abu Sakha’s release.
In May 2016, the Israeli government prohibited a senior staff member from the Jenin Freedom Theater, Mustafa Sheta, from traveling abroad for performances.
In May 2016, Israeli officials denied the right of Palestinian British writer Ahmed Masoud to visit his homeland for the Palestine Festival of Literature, refusing him entry at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan.
Even international artists are not safe. In May 2010, the Israeli authorities deported Spain’s most famous clown, Ivan Prado, who was planning to establish a clown festival in Ramallah. In September 2008, Israeli security officers at Tel Aviv’s Airport forced Alvin Ailey dancer Abdur-Rahim Jackson, the only African-American member with a Muslim/Arab-sounding name, to perform twice for them in order to prove he was a dancer before letting him enter the country with the rest of the company. In October of 2014, French cartoonist Maximilien Le Roy was denied entry to Israel at Ben Gurion airport, where he had come to attend the first Palestine Festival of Comics, and was banned for 10 years from reentry.