Cultural boycott is one element of the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) called for by Palestinians and supported by people of conscience around the world. The BDS call aims to end economic, political, cultural, and academic relations with Israel until it complies with international law by ending its occupation and colonization, recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and implementing the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Israeli cultural institutions have been largely silent in the face of Israel’s decades-old system of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid that has denied the Palestinian people their fundamental right to freedom, justice and equality. Moreover, Israeli cultural institutions receive state funding for the explicit purpose of presenting cultural performances abroad to act as ambassadors of Israel and whitewash Israeli crimes.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was established in 2004 to raise awareness about the complicity of Israeli cultural institutions and place pressure on these institutions to end their role in the violation of Palestinian rights. PACBI asks international artists to refrain from participating in cultural events in Israel and international civil society to boycott Israeli-sponsored cultural events around the world.
Since 2004 a number of prominent cultural workers around the world have responded to the Palestinian call for boycott, and numerous initiatives have been carried out to protest Israeli cultural institutions’ performance abroad. In the United States, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) was launched in January 2009. As part of this global movement, Adalah-NY launched a pro-active cultural boycott campaign in November 2015 with a video of artists and cultural workers connected to New York City calling on fellow artists to pledge to uphold the Palestinian call for cultural boycott.