Cultural Boycott

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.

Event

Adalah-NY salutes the people's revolution in Egypt!

 

Join Adalah-NY and other groups to protest the
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s NYC performance

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's (IPO) performance is part of its annual national tour, which will be protested in other cities as well. The protests respond to the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott institutions that work to normalize the occupation of Palestinian territories and the oppression of Palestinians in Israel, the territories, and in exile.

The orchestra actively participates in whitewashing Israel's apartheid policies. By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic is supporting the Israeli government's “Brand Israel” initiative, an effort to divert public attention from Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. The orchestra refrains from criticism of Israel's policies, and is described by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as "Israel’s finest cultural emissary,” which “travels throughout the world…The goodwill created by these tours...is of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene."

One corporate sponsor of the IPO's US tour is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who hosted a gala fundraiser last November for the IPO tour at his New York jewelry store. The IPO thus partners with Leviev's companies though they have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian governments, Hollywood stars and international investment firms due to Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements and involvement in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa.

People throughout the Middle East are mobilizing to challenge repressive governments. The people will not tolerate dictatorships or occupations. Join us in the street for a peaceful, meaningful, timely protest against the art-washing of apartheid.

Protest co-sponsors to date (list in formation): Adalah-NY, Artists Against Apartheid - NYC, Al Awda-NY, Hunter Collage SJP, Jews Say No!, Middle East Crisis Response, Palestinian Club of Brooklyn College, NYU - SJP, War Resisters League New York Local, WESPAC, Women in Black-Union Square, Women of a Certain Age.

Document

The Arava Institute’s online event “With Earth and Each Other,” held Sunday, November 14, exemplified why the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is vital. The event was billed as a celebration of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians working together for the environment. But it failed to educate viewers about the most basic facts of Israeli policies, and thus simply reinforced the status quo. The event, billed as not “political,” suggested that the Middle East conflict can be resolved if people of different religions and ethnicities are nicer to each other. It presented no information on the fundamental and systematic inequalities that are at the root of the conflict.

Adalah-NY and numerous other groups had urged participants, including religious and environmental organizations and performing artists like Pete Seeger, Dan Bern, and Mandy Patinkin, to respect the Palestinian boycott call and bow out. Arava Institute was targeted for boycott due to its failure to condemn Israel’s on-going ethnic cleansing of Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, where Arava is based, and Arava’s very close partnerships with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israeli government. The Israeli government and the JNF have been instrumental in cleansing the land of the indigenous Palestinian residents and planting over their villages with trees. While Arava extolls international cooperation in service of the environment, they remain silent about Israeli and JNF policies, including, as one recent example, the Israeli government’s destruction (five times in succession) of Al Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev, to make way for a JNF forest.

Document

 

 

Dear Participants in “With Earth and Each Other,”

November 11, 2010

 

We are writing because we’ve uncovered very troubling new information to add to the information that we have already publicized[i] about Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies[ii] and the online event “With Earth and Each Other: A Rally for a Better Middle East.”[iii] We fully understand that many of you are participating in the event from a sincere desire to build “a better Middle East.” Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear to us that supporting the Arava Institute and this event will actually damage the causes of justice and peace in the Middle East because Arava is a close and seemingly uncritical partner with right-wing institutions that continue to dispossess Palestinians from their homes and communities. Any efforts by Arava and the November 14th event to foster dialogue and improve the environment are just minor sideshows to the larger projects of Palestinian dispossession implemented by Jewish National Fund[iv] and the Israeli government that Arava is serving to legitimize. Therefore, the best action that you can take to help create a better Middle East is to withdraw from this event.

 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY – In a November 2nd letter, seventeen organizations in the US and abroad were urged by several groups, including Adalah-NY, to respect the Palestinian boycott call and cancel their participation in a November 14th internet event, “With Earth and Each Other.” The event is organized by Friends of the Arava Institute, and other partners, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to benefit Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

The November 2nd call to cancel the organizations’ participation has led to email exchanges between Adalah-NY and the Director of Friends of Arava and some of the participating groups, but it is not clear if any groups will withdraw. The event on November 14th has attracted attention due to calls by many groups for legendary folksinger Pete Seeger to withdraw from it. In a recent interview, Seeger said he supports the economic boycott of Israel, but not a cultural boycott.

Document

Click here to download a PDF.

In July, 2010, over 1000 Israeli police entered the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Negev, and demolished the village to make room for a forest planted by the Jewish National Fund, a close partner of the Arava Institute. Al-Araqib has since been rebuilt and demolished four more times. The Arava Institute. located in the Negev, has not commented on the demolition of Al-Araqib. (Photo by ActiveStills )

Event

Why a Cultural Boycott of Israel?

What is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement?
Why are Palestinians calling for a cultural boycott of Israel?
Why is the boycott against institutions and not individuals?
What does the boycott mean for cultural workers in NY?

PLEASE JOIN US FOR A PUBLIC DISCUSSION

featuring Riham Barghouti and Hana Awwad
current and former members of El Funoun, Palestine's leading contemporary dance troupe

 

This event is the culmination of a week of flyering and protests calling for the boycott of performances by the Batsheva dance troupe in NYC.

The discussion will focus on the meaning of cultural boycott and the impact of occupation on Palestinian artists.

Co-sponsored by Adalah-NY and Students for Justice in Palestine - Columbia U.

Press Coverage

New York Times

Abstract: 

The big hook for the Batsheva Dance Company’s Joyce Theater engagement is that two casts perform Ohad Naharin’s “Project 5” sampler program, one all-female and the other all-male. However, having seen the women at Tuesday night’s New York premiere and the men on Saturday evening, I must say that the only distinction of real note was the presence, on Saturday, of the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, accompanied by a considerable security detail and heckled by members of Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY, September 22, 2010 – About 40 protesters gathered this evening to call upon New Yorkers to boycott the Israeli dance troupe Batsheva Dance Company during their performances at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan. Backed by the music of the radical marching band, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, demonstrators handed out programs to dancegoers and pedestrians explaining the reasons for the boycott. At least one dance patron heeded the call, giving his ticket to a protest organizer saying he was no longer comfortable seeing the performance.

In an open letter addressed to the dance company, protest organizers explain:
We are a group of New York-based human rights activists and artists calling for a boycott of your performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City due to your collaboration with the Israeli state and its Brand Israel campaign. Launched in 2005, Brand Israel is a government public relations initiative which uses cultural productions to distract from Israel’s daily human rights violations. In 2009 Arye Mekel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated, “We will send 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.” While efforts to promote a positive image of Israel abroad persist, Palestinians continue to suffer from Israeli state policies.

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