Tamar-kali with her band and special guest Sonny Singh at "Palestine Calling"
Brooklyn vocalist and composer Tamar-kali with her band and special guest Sonny Singh at our "Palestine Calling" event on November 14th, 2015.

Cultural Boycott

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.

About the Campaign

Cultural Boycott

Overview

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.

Read More >>>

Guidelines for International Artists

The cultural boycott call targets Israeli cultural institutions, not individual Israeli cultural workers. In October of 2010, PACBI issued “consistent and coherent criteria and guidelines that specifically address the nuances and particularities of the field of culture [that are] intended to help guide cultural workers and organizers around the world in adhering to the Palestinian call for boycott.”

Read More >>>

The Importance of Cultural Boycott

The impact of BDS on Israel is undeniable and quite evident in the Israeli government’s extreme response to BDS. In 2011 Israel passed the “Boycott Law” wherein anyone calling for a boycott of Israel could be sued or penalized, including the withdrawal of tax benefits, contracts, even scholarships for study, effectively criminalizing BDS inside Israel. Similarly, attempts to criminalize BDS activism are taking place in France and the United States. In June, 2015, American billionaire financier of Israeli apartheid, Sheldon Adelson organized an emergency BDS summit in Las Vegas at which he raised more than $20 million to combat BDS on US campuses. During the same weekend, Netanyahu pledged an additional NIS 100 million (about $25 million) to the Strategic Affairs and Information MInistry, most of which will go to fighting BDS, including ten new employee positions. There is no doubt that much of this response by Israel is due to the economic impact of BDS on Israel.

However, though difficult to quantify, there is no doubt that cultural boycotts have also made an impact on Israel. Calls for cultural boycott shift the discourse around Israel and the need to hold it accountable for its violations of international law. Extensive international and Israeli media coverage of cultural boycott actions provides a strong indication of the impact of cultural boycott. Whether in support of the cultural boycott or in opposition to it, numerous articles have been published about the subject promoting discussion and debate about Israeli violations of international law and human rights and the most effective response to these violations.

Read More >>>

Cultural Boycott and the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement

The Palestinian call for cultural boycott draws inspiration from the powerful impact that this strategy had on Apartheid South Africa. Calls for a cultural boycott of South Africa started as early as 1961, when the British Musicians Union decided that members should not perform in South Africa as long as apartheid existed. Further actions were carried out in the UK, Ireland, and the United States among a wide range of cultural workers, including actors, writers, filmmakers, and other artists.

Read More >>>

Campaign Achievements

PACBI provides news and articles on a number of international academic and cultural boycott initiatives since the 2004 call.

Read More >>>

Attacks on Palestinian Cultural Workers’ Rights

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.

Read More >>>

Adalah-NY and Cultural Boycott

Since 2007, Adalah-NY has participated in multi-city protests of Israeli cultural groups’ performances in the US and Canada, including the Batsheva Dance Company (2009, 2010, 2012), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (2011), Idan Raichel (2011), and the Israel Ballet (2010). We have also participated in national and international campaigns calling on Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger, and other artists to not play apartheid.

Read More >>>

Complicity of Israeli Cultural Institutions

Virtually all Israeli cultural institutions, unless proven otherwise, are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence or actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. (PACBI Cultural Boycott Guidelines, 2010)

Read More >>>

PACBI

Due to the complicity of Israeli cultural institutions, in July 2004 the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement of principles urging “colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel's occupation, colonization and system of apartheid” (emphasis in the original).

Read More >>>

Collective Pledges to Uphold the Cultural Boycott of Israel

In 2006, in response to Israeli attacks against Gaza and Lebanon, over one hundred Palestinian cultural workers, supported by hundreds of international cultural workers voiced their support of the PACBI call. They appealed to international artists and filmmakers of good conscience “to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events...in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency.”

Read More >>>

Support from International Artists

A number of international cultural workers and artists have upheld the Palestinian call for cultural boycott by refusing to play in Israel, voicing their support for cultural boycott, and calling on fellow artists to uphold the call.

Read More >>>

Featured Items

Web Action

As part of the thoughtful, hopeful, and principled Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and out of respect for Palestinian self-determination, we affirm that "Brand Israel" is not welcome in New York and we commit to upholding the cultural boycott however we can. We will not participate in events sponsored by the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions in New York, Israel, or anywhere else. As a community of New York-based artists and cultural workers, we call on other artists and cultural workers to join this global movement until Israeli occupation, colonization, and apartheid have ended.

Latest Posts

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.

Document

(Translation of Ha’aretz article for Adalah-NY. Original Hebrew story: https://www.haaretz.co.il/gallery/theater/1.4235031)

In a letter they sent, along with more than 70 cultural figures, they call on the Lincoln Center to cancel the play at the festival, claiming that Habima and the Cameri are supported by the Israeli government, and that the two [theaters] have performed in the settlements

July 6, 2017 Updated July 8, 2017
Yair Ashkenazi

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.”

Document

June 27 email from Lincoln Center’s President to Adalah-NY

Thank you for your thoughtful note regarding the performances by Ha’bima National Theater and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv. “To the End of the Land” is going to be one part of the larger Lincoln Center Festival this summer, and we are looking forward to bringing many different performances from all over the world as part of the series.