FW: Call for a cultural boycott of Israel

From: ben d (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 04 2006 - 02:26:56 PST

From: Steven Rose [mailto:email suppressed]
Subject: FW: Call for a cultural boycott of Israel

Dear all
Please distribute the call below plus enclosures (with discrimination) to
writers, artists, film makers, musicians and other culture workers amongst
your friends who might be appropriate, urging them to sign John Berger's
appeal, and to return their agreement to sign to me.

Please note that until we have a substantial list of signatures there is an
embargo on publication.


There follows the call for a cultural boycott of Israel,

Dear friends;
John Berger, Eduardo Galeano, Elia Suleiman and I (Steven Rose) are
circulating this letter to you, calling on artists, writers, film-makers and
other culture workers to support the call of their Palestinian colleagues
for a cultural boycott of Israel. We hope that you will add your signature
to it. John's personal addendum to   the letter is also copied below. We 
to collect enough signatures over the coming few days to publish the letter
in the London Guardian and other
newspapers across Europe.
If you are willing to sign, please respond directly to me at
email suppressed
For publication.
There is a fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, albeit daily violated by Israeli
overflights. Meanwhile the day to day brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza
and the West Bank continues. Ten Palestinians are killed for every Israeli
death; more than 200, many of them children, have been killed over the
summer. UN resolutions are flouted, human rights violated as Palestinian
land is stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For archbishop
Desmond Tutu, as for the Jewish (former ANC military commander presently
South African minister of security), Ronnie Kasrils, the situation of the
Palestinians is worse than that of black South Africans under apartheid.
Meantime Western governments refer to Israel1s OElegitimate right1 of
self-defence, and continue to supply weaponry.
The challenge of apartheid was fought better. The non-violent international
response to apartheid was a campaign of boycott, divestment, and, finally UN
imposed sanctions which enabled the regime to change without terrible
bloodshed. Today Palestinians teachers, writers, film-makers and
non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable academic and
cultural boycott of Israel as offering another path to a just peace. This
call has been endorsed internationally by university teachers in many
European countries, by film-makers and architects, and by some brave Israeli
dissidents. It is now time for others to join the campaign   as Primo Levy
asked: If not now, when?
We call on creative writers and artists to support our Palestinian and
Israeli colleagues by endorsing the boycott call. Read the Palestinian call
John Berger
Eduardo Galeano
Elia Suleiman
Steven Rose, Secretary
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
You can find more detail of the campaign on our website:
Please reply to Steven Rose at email suppressed
>From John Berger:
   I would like to make a few personal remarks about this world-wide appeal
to teachers, intellectuals and artists to join the cultural boycott of the
state of Israel, as called for by over a hundred Palestinian academics and
artists, and - very importantly - also by a number of Israeli public
figures, who outspokenly oppose their country1s illegal occupation of the
Palestine territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Their call is attached,
together with my OEAfter Guernica2 drawing. I hope you will feel able to add
your signature, to the attached letter, which we intend to publish in
national newspapers.
   The boycott is an active protest against two forms of exclusion which
have persisted, despite many other forms of protestations, for over sixty
years - for almost three generations.
During this period the state of Israel has consistently excluded itself
from any international obligation to heed UN resolutions or the judgement of
any international court. To date, it has defied 246 Security Council
As a direct consequence seven million Palestinians have been excluded
from the right to live as they wish on land internationally acknowledged to
be theirs; and now increasingly, with every week that passes, they are
being excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation.
As Nelson Mandela has pointed out, boycott is not a principle, it is a
tactic depending upon circumstances. A tactic which allows people, as
distinct from their elected but often craven governments, to apply a certain
pressure on those wielding power in what they, the boycotters, consider to
be an unjust or immoral way. (In white South Africa yesterday and in Israel
today, the immorality was, or is being, coded into a form of racist
Boycott is not a principle. When it becomes one, it itself risks to
become exclusive and racist. No boycott, in our sense of the term, should
be directed against an individual, a people, or a nation as such. A boycott
is directed against a policy and the institutions which support that policy
either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about
How to apply a cultural boycott? A boycott of goods is a simpler
proposition, but in this case it would probably be less effective, and speed
is of the essence, because the situation is deteriorating every month (which
is precisely why some of the most powerful world political leaders, hoping
for the worst, keep silent.).
How to apply a boycott? For academics it1s perhaps a little clearer - a
question of declining invitations from state institutions and explaining
why. For invited actors, musicians, jugglers or poets it can be more
complicated. I1m convinced, in any case, that its application should not be
systematised; it has to come from a personal choice based on a personal
For instance. An important mainstream Israeli publisher today is asking
to publish thre of my books. I intend to apply the boycott with an
explanation. There exist, however, a few small, marginal Israeli publishers
who expressly work to encourage exchanges and bridges between Arabs and
Israelis, and if one of them should ask to publish something of mine, I
would unhesitatingly agree and furthermore waive aside any question of
author1s royalties. I don1t ask other writers supporting the boycott to
come necessarily to exactly the same conclusion. I simply offer an example.
What is important is that we make our chosen protests together, and that
we speak out, thus breaking the silence of connivance maintained by those
who claim to represent us, and thus ourselves representing, briefly by our
common action, the incalculable number of people who have been appalled by
recent events but lack the opportunity of making their sense of outrage
John Berger
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