.... we are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Since the summer war on Gaza, Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence. “2014,” says the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, was “one of the cruellest and deadliest in the history of the occupation.” The Palestinian catastrophe goes on.Notable signatories of the letter include film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, legendary musician Brian Eno, art theorist John Berger, writers Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Gilian Slovo (a former president of British PEN). Jimmy McGoverbn and Ahdaf Soueif, actress Myriam Margoliyes. Musician Roger Waters, well known for his criticism of Israel, also signed on. The full list of over 700 supporters appears on the Artists for Palestine U.K. website.
Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers. Its own theatre companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank – and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of “Brand Israel”. During South African apartheid, musicians announced they weren’t going to “play Sun City”. Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.