500 Latin American Artists with Palestine. Image Credit: BDS Colombia
While Israeli soldiers continue their campaign of violence against Palestinians in Gaza (with the latest deaths of Abdullah Mohammed al-Shuhri, 28, and Mohammed Abu Hajeela, 31, the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza protests has risen to 34), many have remained silent, including politicians and international organizations. However on April 14, a letter signed by 500 Latin American Artists will be launched by the Palestinian-led campaign for the boycott of Israel. The artists pledge in the letter to not perform or exhibit in Israel or to receive Israeli funding until it meets its obligations to respect Palestinian human rights. The poets, painters, rappers, theater directors, filmmakers, actors, writers, and musicians who said No to Israel’s human rights violations, come from 17 different Latin American countries.
Some of the well-known artists endorsing this call for the cultural boycott are Chilean writer Lina Meruane, Colombian photographer Jesús Abad Colorado, Argentine rapper Daniel Devita, Colombian band Doctor Krápula, Chilean writer Carlos Labbé, Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, Colombian actor Álvaro Rodríguez, and Colombian theater director Patricia Ariza.
The Latin American artists denounce the fact that “Israel uses culture to present itself to the world as a normal liberal democracy, with a vibrant cultural life that includes Israelis and Palestinians alike. In reality, Israel violates Palestinian cultural rights through the destruction of theaters, the closure of cultural centers, and the arrests of artists. Meanwhile, Israeli actions affecting the entire Palestinian population, from restrictions on their freedom of movement to the bombings in Gaza, also limit the ability of Palestinians to create and enjoy art.”
Cultural boycott of Israel
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched in 2004 and was the stimulus for the general call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel in 2005. However, PACBI focuses on academics and cultural workers, highlighting the unique ways Israel perpetuates and normalizes its violations of the human rights of Palestinians, and its military occupation of the West Bank, among other issues, through its cultural and academic institutions: “Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled) and the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the above forms of oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence”.
Since 2004, PACBI has called on academics and cultural workers to “comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid by applying the following:”
- Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions.
- Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions.
- Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
- Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations.
- Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.
PACBI’s call has been answered by many important artists and intellectual figures such as Roger Waters, the late Stephen Hawking, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Chuck D. In 2010, following “Operation Cast Lead”, when Israeli forces killed over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, 500 artists from Montreal launched ‘Artists Against Apartheid’, “joining the international movement against Israeli apartheid. On the streets, in concert halls, in words and in song, we commit to fighting against apartheid and call upon all artists and cultural producers across the country and around the world to adopt a similar position in this global struggle.”
Similar campaigns have been taken up in the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, Lebanon, and the United States.
Across the world, from different sectors of society people are rising up to say no to Israeli apartheid, colonialism and genocide, and are joining and supporting the dignified resistance of the Palestinian people.