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.

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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.

Web Action

Katherine Farley, Chairman of the Board, Lincoln Center
Debora L. Spar, President, Lincoln Center

Dear Ms. Farley and Ms. Spar,

As supporters of the arts and human rights, we are writing you to express our grave concern that Lincoln Center will be hosting Israel’s Ha’bima National Theatre and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv from July 24 – 27 for performances of the play “To the End of the Land.”  Lincoln Center’s website notes that these performances will occur “With support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.”  It is deeply troubling that Lincoln Center, one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, is helping 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. We call on Lincoln Center to avoid complicity with Brand Israel by cancelling these performances by Ha’bima and Cameri.

In 2006 Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) launched its “Brand Israel” public relations strategy which aimed to “rebrand” Israel by representing the country as “relevant and modern,” while “avoiding any discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians.”  An important component of “Brand Israel” involves promoting the country as a progressive center of the arts and culture.  This was articulated by a MoFA official who, following one of Israel’s periodic military assaults on the Gaza Strip, told the New York Times, “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.”  The advertised support by “Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America” for Ha’bima and Cameri’s performance at Lincoln Center fits precisely within that Israeli government strategy.

Press Coverage

Mondoweiss

Abstract: 

In this connection, I'd point out again that the PEN America World Voices fest just came off without its traditional sponsorship from Israel. Dropping Israel as a sponsor was, I believe, intentional; though PEN's director Suzanne Nossel was careful not to cop to that. What is undeniable is that PEN came under considerable pressure from Adalah-NY's steady campaign over the sponsorship; and Nossel was receptive to Adalah.

Press Coverage

Mondoweiss

Abstract: 

The Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh kicked off his book tour in New York last night in an appearance at which he said he had no choice but to become a political artist.

Here is the schedule of Saba’aneh’s book tour in the U.S.: You can catch him Friday night in Brooklyn, Saturday night in Clifton, New Jersey, and Monday in Long Island.

Press Release

New York, NY,  March 24, 2017 - Braving the cold and wind on Wednesday night, thirty-five New York human rights advocates protested on the sidewalk outside Israeli musician Idan Raichel’s performance at the City Winery in Manhattan. Raichel calls himself a cultural ambassador for Israel and is an outspoken and uncritical supporter of the Israeli army. Raichel regularly performs at Israeli government events as part of the government’s Brand Israel public relations campaign, which uses art and music to divert attention from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

The protesters chanted, “Idan let us set you straight. Israel is a racist state.” And “Voice of peace? That’s a lie! Idan plays while people die!” They held signs saying, “Idan Raichel, Apartheid Tool, Not Cool,” and “Boycott Israeli Apartheid.” City Winery covered over the large glass windows that normally provide a view of their concert space from the street, possibly because the demonstration outside Raichel’s 2015 concert there was visible to Raichel and attendees inside. The protesters called on City Winery, which is hosting Raichel’s concerts in a number of cities, to end their complicity with Israeli apartheid, chanting “City Winery, don’t you see, Art should be apartheid free.” City Winery also serves a number of wines from illegal Israeli settlements.

Press Coverage

The Algemeiner

Abstract: 

An Israeli government representative slammed the BDS movement on Friday for falsely implying that a prominent US literary society had decided to boycott the Jewish state.

Shimon Mercer-Wood — spokesman and consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York — was referring to an Adalah-NY press release that heralded the lack of Israeli government funding for PEN America’s 2017 World Voices Festival — an annual New York event that Israel had been a sponsor of in recent years.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, New York, NY—Human rights advocates welcome the decision by PEN America to hold PEN’s annual World Voices literary festival without funding from the Israeli government.
The decision followed a campaign and a call supported by leading literary figures asking the organization to reject Israeli government sponsorship. PEN America accepted Israeli government support for the World Voices Festival four of the previous five years, and despite writers’ opposition in 2016. The leading US free expression and literary organization announced its program last week for the May 2017 World Voices Festival in New York.

PEN America did not, however, offer a reason for the absence of Israeli government support for World Voices in a February 2017 email exchange with Adalah-NY and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

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