² Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
Belgian Academics & Artists For Palestine


Why a Call For A Cultural Boycott Of Israel?

Dear friend,

In writing you this letter we are urging you to join the Palestinian campaign for a boycott against the State of Israel. Deeply disappointed, indeed, with the dismal failure of the "peace negotiations" and drawing its inspiration from the boycott movement against the former Apartheid regime in South-Africa, a platform of some 170 organisations and movements in Palestinian civil society launched, in 2005, a call for a worldwide boycott action against the state of Israel. By means of this non-violent campaign, they hope to create necessary pressure to make the State of Israel put a definitive halt to its systematic violations of the international rules of law.

We too, Belgian artists and cultural workers, wish to join this global boycott and solidarity campaign.

And we have ample grounds for doing so. The murderous war against the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014 was to many an eye-opener. "Breaking the Silence", an Israeli organisation of former soldiers, has collected gruesome testimonies by soldiers who were present during the attack; it also accuses Israel of systematic violations of international rules of law. Meanwhile, people in the West Bank are equally subjected, since 1967, to a cruel military occupation, with often lethal violence, humiliating identity checks, arbitrary practices at check-points, demolition of houses, etc. without any political or civil rights. The Palestinian "catastrophy" ("Nakba") of 1947-49 is still persisting, even today.

You may be of the opinion that culture does not have its place within the framework of a boycott action, the arts, music, theatre being messengers of peace and unity over and above all political controversies. Indeed, art implies a critical sense capable of generating discussion and much-needed exchanges within a context of war. But this argument does not take into account the fact that Israel is waging a war on the cultural front as well. On the one hand, the Israeli regime targets Palestinian cultural institutions, it shuts down cultural centres, shackles Palestinian artists in their freedom of movement while, on the other hand, Israel uses culture to spread propaganda ('hasbara') for its settler-colonialist project. Israeli theatre and dance companies perform all over the world as cultural ambassadors to propagate "Brand Israel".

Our campaign does not target individual Israeli artists but aims to boycott cultural institutions of the state of Israel as such.

During the regime of apartheid in South-Africa musicians used to announce they wouldn't sing in "Sun City". We say today : be it in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon or Ariel, we will not go there to play music, to collect awards, to organize exhibitions, to participate in festivals or conferences or to organize master-classes, as long as the Israeli state will not respect international law and does not put an end to the colonial oppression of the Palestinian people.

Finally we want to emphasize that the present campaign is absolutely anti-racist and opposed to any form of antisemitism whatsoever. PS The end of the South African Apartheid regime did not bring with it the destruction of the State of South Africa. In the same way the international BDS campaign does not require the end of the State of Israel, once human rights, democracy and equality for all denizens of historic Palestine (refugees included) are fully realized.


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