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.

Press Coverage

JTAj. the jewish news weeklyThe Forward

Abstract: 

Two New York–based human rights groups organized a boycott of performances by Israel’s national dance company. Adalah-NY: the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel and the New York chapter of Artists Against Apartheid announced the boycott in an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company.

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Why We Are Boycotting Your Performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City

September 17, 2010

Dear Batsheva Dance Company,

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.

Here are some of the realities the Brand Israel campaign would like to distract us from: Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands is the longest in modern history. 223 Jewish-only settlements and “outposts” on Palestinian land have been built in violation of International Law. Israel has built an “Apartheid” wall in the West Bank that further appropriates Palestinian land and separates Palestinian farmers from their land. The Israel Defense Forces have demolished over 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and continue to do so. The 2009 invasion of Gaza killed over 1400 Palestinians, prompting allegations of War Crimes by UN Fact Finding Mission Justice Richard Goldstone.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 10, New York, NY  - Folk music icon Pete Seeger has been urged by over 40 organizations, along with musicians close to him, to cancel his participation in a November internet event organized by the Israeli groups the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and others. The organizations called on Seeger to support the Palestinian-led movement for a cultural boycott of Israel, modeled on the artists’ boycott that helped end Apartheid in South Africa.

The event, “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,” is presented as a support effort for Arava, which claims to carry out environmental projects in the Negev desert in Israel. Arava has said and done nothing about the destruction – four times – of the Bedouin village Al-Araqib in the Negev by Israeli forces this summer to make way for a forest to be planted by the Jewish National Fund. The destruction of Al-Araqib is part of a larger Israeli government strategy of dislocating Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel, to facilitate the expansion of communities for Israeli Jews.

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September 9, 2010

Dear Pete,

As long-time admirers of your music and your commitment to social justice, and as justice-seeking activists ourselves, we were surprised and troubled to learn that you plan to participate in the event “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East” this November.

As part of the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), and inspired by the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, Palestinian people have asked international artists to join the BDS movement by refusing to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied and thus promote the continuation of injustice. Participation in “With Earth and Each Other” undermines the call for BDS until Israel meets the basic requirements of human rights and international law by ending its occupation, ensuring equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Press Coverage

The Forward

Abstract: 

The movement for a cultural boycott of Israel, conducted by Adalah-NY and other activists, has increased its activity in recent years, strategically targeting selected artists who are scheduled to perform there.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY – More than 50 organizations and artists from eight countries have written to legendary political singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron to thank him for his decision to drop Israel from his current tour. The letter, facilitated by Adalah-NY, highlighted the parallels between the South African Apartheid that Scott-Heron crusaded against decades ago and the Israeli system that currently subjugates Palestinians.

Palestinian civil society has called for grassroots pressure on Israel to end its oppressive behavior through a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), including cultural events. “To salvage its deteriorating image abroad, Israel has launched a 'rebranding' campaign which uses arts and culture to whitewash its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” said Randa Wahbe of Adalah-NY. Gil Scott-Heron is the latest in a list of notable artists, including Sting, Bono, Snoop Dogg, and Carlos Santana, who have recently declined to play Israel. Distinguished artists, writers, and peace activists—among them John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Alice Walker—have declared support for the BDS movement.

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Dear Gil Scott-Heron,

The undersigned artists and organizations would like to commend your principled stance on Israeli apartheid.

By announcing the cancellation of your scheduled performance in Israel, you join the growing ranks of artists of conscience in solidarity with Palestinian civil society. As you recognized in your iconic anti-Apartheid anthem “Johannesburg,” when “brothers over there are defyin’ the man…they need to know we’re on their side.”

We understand that there may be some pressure to reverse your stand and play Tel Aviv. We would like to emphasize the legal and moral reasons why we are urging you to hold fast to your decision.

By performing in Israel you would violate the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel—a call supported by stalwart anti-racist activists around the world, from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Alice Walker. As Bishop Tutu noted:

I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”

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