A Call For A Cultural Boycott Of Israel.

Dear colleague,

In writing you this letter we are urging you to join the BACBI campaign (Belgian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) for a boycott action against the state of Israel. Deeply disappointed about the forever-lasting and seemingly totally deadlocked "peace negotiations" and drawing its inspiration from the boycott movement against the former apartheidsregime in South-Africa, a platform of movements within Palestianian civil society launched, in 2005, the initiative for a worldwide boycott action against the state of Israel. With this non-violent campaign, they hope to call a halt to the systematic violations by this state of the international rules of law.

We, artists and cultural workers, also want to join this boycott action.

And we have ample grounds for doing so. The war against Gaza during the summer of last year was an eye-opener to many. "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 Westbank are equally still groaning under the occupation, with humiliating identity checks, arbitrary practices at check-points, demolition of houses, etc. The Palestinian catastrophe has - even today - not come to an end.

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 for its colonial project. Israeli theatre and dance companies perform all over the world as cultural ambassadors to propagate "Brand Israel".

Our campaign does not target the individual Israeli artist 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 Israel 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 antiracist and opposed to any form of antisemitism whatsoever.

Please join our appeal by reading the Statement of Principles: here! and by signing it: here!

Contact: email.

BACBI's Coordinating Committee: Prof. Marie-Christine Closon (UCL), Prof. Patrick Deboosere (VUB), Dr. Pascal Debruyne (UGent), Prof. Lieven De Cauter (KU Leuven), Em.Prof. Herman De Ley (UGent), Lieve Franssen (dirigent Brussels Brecht-Eislerkoor), Carl Gydé (directeur CAMPO), Prof. Madeline Lutjeharms (VUB), Prof. Perrine Humblet (ULB), Prof. Marc Jacquemain (Université de Liège), Raven Ruëll (régisseur), Prof. Christiane Schomblond (ULB), Dr. Nozomi Takahashi (UGent), Prof. Karin Verelst (VUB).


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