'Apartheid' Is the Only Word That Will Do: Artists Boycott Israel
Declaring "the Palestinian catastrophe goes on" in the wake of “one of the cruellest and deadliest (years) in the history of the Occupation,” at least 800 U.K artists have announced a cultural boycott of Israel. Refining the model of the Sun City boycott of South African apartheid, the artists argue they cannot in good conscience practise what they consider "a celebration of humanity" in the face of "horrifying inhumanity." They also stress that Israel's wars are very much fought on the cultural front: the IDF targets Palestinian cultural organizations, theater companies perform to settler audiences in the West Bank, and Israeli artists regularly tour the globe as cultural diplomats for “Brand Israel,” complete with government contracts requiring them to "promote the policy interests of the State of Israel."
Over 800 artists have reportedly signed onto the campaign, which coincides with next week's start of the global Israeli Apartheid Week. It was launched with an open letter and Artists For Palestine website, which includes powerful personal statements from artists, many of them Jews who cite their own people's history of oppression. From actor Miriam Margolyes: The right and wrongs here are very clear to me. A suffering group has asked for my support; it cannot be withheld. " Choreographer Jonathan Burrows, "The choice not to present work in Israel is not an attack on Israeli artists, but rather a recognition that the thing you do may not be appropriate in a situation of ongoing violent conflict, and that to ignore that is to support the idea that....life and culture continue as normal, while bombs fall." To date, no such concerted effort - while overdue and even more justified - by American artists.