October 25, 2017, New York, NY - Forty-five New York human rights advocates protested outside a performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) at Carnegie Hall this Wednesday evening.The IPO is a self-proclaimed cultural ambassador representing the state of Israel, helping to convey a positive image of Israel and divert attention from its human rights abuses, as part of the “Brand Israel” initiative.
Standing fifty feet from Carnegie Hall’s entrance, the protesters held signs, chanted and sang to tunes played by a radical marching band, capturing the attention of attendees and passersby. A small group of protesters from the anti-Arab hate group the Jewish Defense League came out to show support for the IPO, waving Israeli flags and displaying a sign that said “Level Gaza,” in keeping with Israel’s violent, militaristic policies.
The Orchestra is not an apolitical cultural institution. At this evening’s protest, Thai classical musician Sainatee Suárez said, “Let’s not pretend that music is a single, universal language (it is not) that magically generates rainbow bridges surpassing social and political and economic entanglements --- rather, let's directly confront the Israeli state's violent project of appropriation and erasure using the IPO as its instrument.”
PEN America’s support for Tatour is significant not just to the hope that Tatour will be freed, but as a sign of the firm place that Palestinian rights have gained on the American left. Time was when PEN would have balked at such a bold support of a Palestinian artist who used the term martyr. PEN got funding from the Israeli government for its annual world voices literature festival. But earlier this year, under the steady pressure of Adalah-NY, PEN did not take the Israeli money.
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.
On October 11, 2015, the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was arrested at her home in Reineh, a town in Israel’s Galilee. In November of the same year, in the second of Tatour’s three months in jail, Israeli prosecutors indicted her on counts of incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization.
Greta Gerwig — a potential Oscar frontrunner for her upcoming directorial debut “Lady Bird” — has exclusively told Page Six that it was a mistake to lend her name to a letter asking Lincoln Center to ban an Israeli-backed play.
In July, Gerwig was among more than 60 artists who signed a letter calling on Lincoln Center to cancel performances of “To the End of the Land,” presented “with support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.”
The letter was organized by Adalah-NY, which calls for the boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.
At the Brooklyn headquarters for the publishing house Verso Books at a September 18 standing-room-only panel on free speech and Palestine solidarity sponsored by Adalah-NY and Jewish Voice for Peace, panelist Susan Abulhawa, the acclaimed author of Mornings in Jenin, disclosed a little-known additional fact of Tatour’s case: After Israeli soldiers arrested Tatour on the charge of incitement, one piece of evidence prosecutors presented in court was the fact that Tatour recited a commemoration of the 1956 massacre of Palestinians at Kafr Qasim.