Category Archives: palestine

PROTEST BRAND ISRAEL THEATRE ‘TERROR SPECIAL’

Sign up here by Tuesday 11th November (10:00 GMT) to protest the participation of European theatres in a Brand Israel exercise led by Israel’s national theatre, Habima. The ‘Terror Special conference’ is part of ‘TERRORisms’, a two-year project by the Union of Theatres of Europe, under the leadership of its current president, Habima’s Artistic Director Ilan Ronen. 

Letter in French here

Dear members* of the Union of Theatres of Europe:

We write as citizens of various countries in Europe, as enthusiastic patrons of independent and challenging theatre, and as people who cannot forget the terror visited on the civilian population of Gaza in July and August this year.

We note with some amazement that the Union of Theatres of Europe is about to hold its general assembly in Israel, a country that is not in Europe. We note with equal surprise that the current president of the Union of Theatres of Europe, Ilan Ronen, is Israeli.

Ronen is the artistic director of Habima, the national theatre of Israel. His name became familiar to a wider public in Europe in 2012, when he argued that Habima could not refuse to perform in Israel’s illegal settlements, including Ariel, in the West Bank: ‘Like other theatre companies and dance companies in Israel, we are state-financed, and financially supported to perform all over the country,’ he told theObserver newspaper in the United Kingdom. ‘This is the law. We have no choice. We have to go, otherwise there is no financial support.’ This is the line Ilan Ronen continues to take.

In the spring of 2014, an open letter was sent to Norway’s National Theatre (NT) asking it to withdraw from the partnership with Habima. The National Theatre responded by asking Habima to stop performing in the illegal settlements, as a pre-condition for continuing their collaboration. However Habima’s director explicitly refused to meet this pre-condition. Then in August came the Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,000 Palestinians dead – 500 of them children – and over 10,000 injured. A further petition against NT’s collaboration was delivered to them, signed by actors from a range of Norwegian theatre companies. Responding to the controversy the Haifa-based Palestinian theatre, ShiberHur, did decide to withdraw from the project. Nevertheless, and despite Habima’s refusal, the National Theatre dropped its principled pre-condition, and decided to continue its partnership with Habima.

In other countries in recent years, people alleged to have broken international law have been referred to the International Criminal Court – but you, theatres of Europe, appear on the face of it to be willing to endorse Habima’s participation in the Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land and the apartheid practices of the settlers (how many Palestinian villagers whose land was stolen by the settlement of Ariel, for instance, do you think are allowed to attend theatre performances by Habima in Ariel?).

To say we’re surprised is an under-statement. To say we wish you were not holding your general assembly in Tel Aviv – and not participating in a four-day colloquium on the theme of TERRORisms (sic) conceived and organised by Habima – is to put it mildly.

We’ve had a look at the synopsis of God Waits at the Station, the Israeli play which will premiere on the first night of your meeting. It’s about a suicide bombing by a Palestinian woman inside Israel. Such things have happened. But we’ve scoured the rest of what’s publicly available of your programme to see where the terror experienced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank at the hands of the Israeli army and air force and Israeli settlers might be explored as dramatic material, workshopped for its potential to reach audiences in Norway, Germany, and so on. We can’t find any such thing.

You are using funds from the Culture Programme of the European Union to run a programme that sounds as if it was written by the Israeli foreign ministry: a one-day ‘Terror Special’ conference on the challenge of suicide bombings to democracies; a round-table on cultural boycott that sounds as though it’s already made up its mind: ‘Shouldn’t artists and cultural institutions make every effort to become a “bridge’ in conflict zones’, you say (while you sit in a country whose government uses culture not as a bridge, but as legitimisation for its project of colonisation).

We’re amazed. We think you shouldn’t go. We don’t understand how you’ve got yourselves into this relationship with Habima. Europe had experience of oppressive military occupations not so long ago. Have you forgotten the terror inflicted on those civilian populations?

Signatories (continuously updated until deadline):

Jenny Morgan, film-maker, UK
Miranda Pennell, film-maker, UK
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, UK
Dror Warschawski, researcher, France
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK
Eleanor Kilroy, Artists right to say ‘no’, UK
Ofer Neiman, co-editor of The Occupation magazine, Israel
Michel Bühler, singer, writer, Switzerland
Hafid Melhay, bookseller, France
Mohamed Paz, Artistic director of Prana Natyam, France
Caryl Churchill, playwright, UK

* The following theatre companies are listed as participating in the ‘TERRORisms’ project:

Staatsschauspiel Stuttgart, Germany 
National Theatre of Oslo, Norway 
Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozoriste, Belgrade, Serbia 
Habima – National Theatre of Tel Aviv, Israel 
Young Vic Theatre London, England [an associate member of the project, not attending the Tel Aviv meeting] 
Shiber Hur Company, Palestine [withdrawn] 
Comédie de Reims, France


About the Union of Theatres of Europe (U.T.E.):

U.T.E. was founded by French politician Jack Lang in 1990 and established under the presidency of Giorgio Strehler and the directorship of Israeli director-producer Eli Malka. Jack Lang served as France’s Minister of Culture from 1981 to 1986 and 1988 to 1992. It has been funded by the French Ministry of Culture since its establishment.

Jack Lang continues in the role of U.T.E. ‘member of honour.’ ThisElectronic Intifada article from 2003 offers an important insight into the sympathies of U.T.E’s founder:

…a mere statement by the administrative council of the prestigious University of Paris-VI has caused an uproar in Europe over alleged “boycotts” of Israeli academics. On December 16, the French university’s administrative body approved a motion calling on the European Union to suspend financial support for Israeli universities on the grounds that “The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza renders impossible teaching and research by our Palestinian colleagues.” This decision produced a near hysterical reaction among some of France’s celebrity intellectuals and political figures. Philospher Bernard Henri-Levy declared that “The professors who voted for this motion conducted themselves like the most extremist of extremist Palestinians,” and went on to compare the motion to the 1933 Nazi laws against Jews. The leftist Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, called the resolution a “shocking act and a tragic error,” while former French culture minister, Jack Lang, opined that “Israeli universities are oases of tolerance,” and calls for a boycott “encourage fanaticism.” http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-academic-freedom-defended-while-palestines-destroyed/4325

See also an article in Aftenposten (Norwegian for ‘The Evening Post’), Norway’s largest newspaper: ‘It is the artist’s right to say no

PLOT THICKENS ON ZIONIST BULLYING OF TRICYCLE THEATRE

A bullying smear campaign which succeeded in pushing London community theatre the Tricycle into withdrawing its refusal of Israeli Embassy funding for a Jewish film festival reveals the lengths to which Israel’s supporters will go to destroy any small signs of independent thinking in the arts.

Intense pressure on Tricycle director Indru Rubasingham and her board included public denunciation from Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and British Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, a Conservative Friend of Israel. The Jewish Chronicle could hardly suppress its delight at the success of the Zionist campaign of blackmail and threats, including withdrawal of sponsorship funds and calls for Rubasingham to be sacked.

Blogger Mark Elf, analysing the affair in forensic detail, saw evidence that the the Arts Council may have been leaned on to threaten the Tricycle with loss of its main source of funds.

The Tricycle Theatre buckled to threats made by either the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, the UK Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid or both.  And, given the courage involved in their original stance, what threat would mean anything to them?

My guess is that the Arts Council threatened to close the theatre down by withdrawing its £760+k contribution.  Now should an Israeli ambassador or even a UK culture minister be in a position to influence that for the sake of their own politics?  I think not but I think that’s precisely what happened. 

Thankfully for the many courageous people working in the arts in the UK, growing awareness of the legitimacy of cultural boycott as a means of acting in solidarity with Palestinians has prompted a generous, collective response from the theatre world.

A letter signed by more than 500 theatre professionals appeared in the Guardian on August 15 saying:

Punishing a small theatre for standing up for its principles is a big step backwards for anyone concerned with challenging prejudice or promoting freedom of speech.

Anyone who truly wants to stand against antisemitism needs to stand with the Tricycle theatre and challenge those who are accusing it in a disproportionate, unjust and ill-informed way.

 

 

 

Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense

 

During London protests against Israel's renewed attacks on Gaza, anti-Zioniost rabbis stand on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

During London protests against Israel’s renewed attacks on Gaza, an anti-Zionist rabbi stands on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

The latest evidence of Israeli criminality has added urgency to the BDS campaign. Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods initiated a letter published in the Guardian on Saturday July 12, alongside another pressing the case for BDS, under the headline Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense.

The J-BIG letter, signed by Jewish figures including actor Miriam Margolyes and  writer and comedian Alexei Sayle, was also supported by author Ahdaf Soueif.

It said Israel was marking the 10th anniversary of the international court of justice  ruling that Israel’s apartheid wall is illegal and must be removed, by renewing its attacks on Gaza, again punishing the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land.

Protests have been widespread and growing. See Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) website for a useful compendium of reports and comment.

 

FULL TEXT OF PRO-BDS LETTERS IN THE GUARDIAN

It is now 10 years since the international court of justice  ruled that the wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank contravenes international law and must be removed.

Israel is marking this anniversary with renewed attacks on Gaza which continue to punish the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in a single night, 11 July).

The apartheid wall is still there, making any kind of normal life for Palestinians an impossibility, as well as stealing their land. It is 47 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus extending the process (begun in 1948) of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population and then installing settlers.

All this is illegal under international law, which has been flouted by Israel, aided by the complicity of western governments. The media too, especially the BBC, must bear some responsibility with its grotesquely biased reporting which, as Owen Jones notes (9 July), portrays Israel as an innocent victim, exempt from any norms of behaviour.

Our government will not hold Israel accountable, so we have a responsibility to do so, especially through the civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS).

Miriam Margolyes, Mike Marqusee, Alexei Sayle, Ahdaf Soueif, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Prof Moshe Machover, Prof Nira Yuval-Davies, Seymour Alexander, Rica Bird, Elizabeth Carola, Mike Cushman, Judit Druks, Nancy Elan, Mark Elf, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Kenneth Fryde, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Michael Kalmanovitz, Adah Kay, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Mica Nava, Diane Neslen, Susan Pashkoff, Roland Rance, Leon Rosselson, Maureen Rothstein, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Miriam Scharf, Sam Weinstein, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Ben Young
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

 

• Debate about strategy is vital for good politics. We welcome Noam Chomsky‘s admonitions as a stimulus to the debate and education which the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement has enabled globally. Aside from the errors of fact in Chomsky’s Nation article reported on by Ian Black (Israeli sanctions campaign: Chomsky’s boycott warning, 2 July), the timing of his intervention is unfortunate since the BDS movement has now reached even American campuses, occasioned Israeli cabinet deliberations as to how to counter it, and caused reputational damage to corporations working with Israeli firms in occupied Palestine.

Chomsky also ignores that BDS is fully backed by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Israelis. In this difficult period for progressive politics and international solidarity, the BDS movement builds across the globe. In its stead Chomsky proposes nothing.
Hilary Rose Professor emeritus of social policy, BradfordMartha Mundy Professor emeritus in anthropology, LSESteven Rose Professor emeritus of neuroscience, Open University, Sami Ramadani London Metropolitan University

Jerusalem BDS activist in face-to-face talk with star of NBC’s ‘DIG’

A Palestinian activist has challenged US TV network NBC over a show being set largely in Jerusalem, in a face-to-face conversation with the leading actor, Jason Isaacs.

Jason Isaacs on DIG set

Isaacs posted this image of himself on set on his own Instagram account

Dig, to be shown on NBCUniversal’s cable network USA in the autumn, has generated strong protests from Palestinians who see it is as part of Israel’s effort to consolidate its control and advance the Judaization of the militarily occupied city.

Harry Potter star Isaacs spoke last week to a Jerusalem resident, known to readers of The Electronic Intifada as “Zalameh”, who visited the set.

According to Zalameh, Isaacs “was very receptive to talk to me and he had an immediate smile.” Isaacs said he had read all of the letters about the issue very carefully and intended to issue a reply.

He also told Zalameh that he had been approached by Miriam Margolyes, the British actor who is a strong supporter of BDS.

But Isaacs also said, according to Zalameh, “I don’t support BDS” – an indication that the actor is nonetheless fully aware of the movement.

Read Electronic Intifada’s full report about the encounter here.

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city's municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city’s municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Find out more about the boycott campaign to expose NBC’s collaboration with Israeli authorities responsible for demolishing Palestinian homes

US activists present petition to NBC

US activists present petition to NBC

 

 

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WHOEVER THE BRUSSELS MUSEUM KILLER WAS, ISRAEL CAN’T BLAME FRIENDS OF PALESTINE

The fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24 has given rise to speculation about the identity of two of the dead as well as of the possible perpetrator, most recently identified as a French citizen who had fought with Islamic militants in Syria. Was it a random attack by an anti-semite targeting a Jewish institution? A carefully planned retaliation by an expert hitman against former Mossad agents? Or something else altogether?

Theories abound, some of them entwining the Belgian incident with the rise of the Right in the recent Europe-wide elections and the Papal visit to Israel and Palestine.

One thing is clear: Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempt to blame criticism of Israel for the Brussels deaths was a despicably cynical move that demanded a response.  Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods combined forces with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network to put out a statement dissociating us from Netanyahu’s assertion that the fate of every Jew is shackled to that of the Israeli state.

Perhaps we should welcome the fact that most media outlets seem to have ignored the Israeli PM’s rant. However, it is regrettable that both of the two national daily papers which published it – the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times - turned down the opportunity to give their readers access to an alternative Jewish perspective.

For the record, we publish the letter here.

An outrage against humanity, not Israel

We deplore the murder of visitors to the Jewish Museum in Brussels and feel the grief of their families and friends.

We find it shocking that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rushed to exploit the killings in order to demonise Israel’s critics.

By blaming what he calls “Slander and lies against the State of Israel” for an assault on a Jewish institution in Belgium, he asserts that Israel represents all Jews and acts on their behalf. We reject this absolutely. Israel’s racist crimes against the Palestinian people provide ample grounds for criticising it without recourse to “slander and lies”.

With hate speech and discrimination on the rise, in Europe and elsewhere, our priority must be to combat the virus of racism regardless of whether its victims are Jews, Muslims, Romanians, Sudanese or indeed anyone.

When atrocities occur, it is our humanity that is outraged, not our national, ethnic or religious identity.

Signed

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Good
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

George Abendstern

Seymour Alexander

Craig Berman

Rica Bird

Haim Bresheeth

Elizabeth Carola

Linda Clair

Mark Elf

Thomas Eisner

Deborah Fink

Jan Hardy

Abe Hayeem

Rosamine Hayeem

Selma James

Riva Joffe

Michael Kalmanowitz

Leah Levane

Les Levidow

Rosalind Levy

Moshe Machover

Helen Marks

Simon Natas

Diana Neslen

Susan Pashkoff

Roland Rance

Valerie Remy

Frances Rifkin

Leon Rosselson

Amanda Sebestyen

Glyn Secker

Leni Solinger

Glyn Secker

Stanley Walinets

Sam Weinstein

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CRITIC OF ISRAEL AND BDS, SPEAKS IN LONDON

nwi chairing norman finkelstein nov2011 credit brian robinson

Norman Finkelstein debates BDS at SOAS, November 2011

Norman Finkelstein, both celebrated and reviled for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda, will be launching his latest book in London on May 31 at an event hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  Full details below.

Finkelstein’s views on the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have made him a controversial figure in the BDS movement. In November 2011 he debated with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, on a J-BIG platform at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The event, pictured above, exposed disagreements between Finkelstein and BDS activists who he accused of building a “sect”.  As the JfJfP notice below says, his May 31 book launch could prove “a bumpy ride”!

LONDON BOOK LAUNCH

Old Wine, Broken Bottle:
Ari Shavit’s Promised Land

Saturday 31 May 2014 *  6.30 for 7pm start
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Norman Finkelstein is a strong speaker celebrated for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda and full-tilt attacks on the American Israel Lobby.

His new book is a take-down of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”, which he finds is an attempt to repackage Zionist propaganda and win back Diaspora Jews. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle” is a devastating and very entertaining critique that concludes that Shavit will not succeed, and that a broad-based mass movement is now growing that can pressure the Israeli government to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

But Finkelstein is nothing if not controversial: having defied the Zionist establishment, he now stands apart from the mainstream of Palestine solidarity by denouncing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as a marginal “cult”. His vehement insistence on the Two State Solution has also been widely challenged.

Professor Finkelstein will open with a conversation with JfJfP signatory Stephen Marks.
Then fans and critics alike can put their own questions to him. All are welcome.

Expect a bumpy ride!

Free event, but please help towards costs: £3 donation suggested
Apologies for Saturday timing; this was the only slot available”Old Wine, Broken Bottle” reviewed by a member of the JfJfP Exec http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1939293464/ref=sr_cr_hist_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

 

B.D.S SHATTERS ISRAEL’S “ILLUSION OF INVULNERABILITY”

This article from The Middle East Magazine, by Federica Marsi, argues strongly that:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is shattering Israel’s illusion of invulnerability. The “delegitimisation” movement, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defines it, is building consensus among international actors and Israeli Jews themselves, in defiance of the Anti-boycott law.
Despite a still limited impact on Israel’s economy, the BDS movement has been shining a spotlight on the violations of Palestinian human rights and triggered a
change in Israel’s public image that is stirring anxiety in the political establishment. 
Omar Barghouti  (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

Omar Barghouti (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

The piece, which can be seen in full here,  concludes with powerful arguments from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian BDS National Committee and Ronnie Barkan of the Israeli group Boycott from Within.

The BDS “is not a one-size-fits-all recipe”, says Barghouti. Every international partner is free to decide whether to boycott Israeli companies as a whole or only those involved in the oPt.  But “no one called for boycotting only Sudanese factories in Darfur due to Sudan’s massive violation of international law there. Only when it comes to Israel do we hear this strange distinction and we are asked to fight the crime, not the criminal who committed it”.
Barghouti strongly believes the EU has to take four immediate measures to restore its credibility among the disillusioned Arab and Palestinian civil society: Firstly, impose a military embargo on Israel and the entire region as a “conflict zone”; secondly, ban imports from all Israeli companies that profit from the occupation; thirdly, stop funding Israeli universities and research institutes involved in violations of international law; and instruct European companies to stop their involvement in Israeli violations of international law, including occupied Jerusalem.
The Israeli BDS wing Boycott from Within, advocates a global boycott of Israel. The ultimate aim is equality, which according to Ronnie Barkan is “regarded by Zionists as the destruction of the state of Israel. What the BDS movement calls for is the dismantlement of its system of segregation, just as South Africa was not destroyed by ending apartheid”.