More than 700 creative professionals living in the Britain — including writers, visual artists, actors, musicians and many others — have signed up to a pledge to boycott collaboration with Israeli state-funded projects.
The announcement marks a significant step for the British cultural boycott campaign. There have been many open letters and other statements of support for Palestine from British artists, but the pledge brings together a huge number of creatives in one coordinated effort.
The pledge, which was launched on February 14 with a new website and a letter in The Guardian that reads: “We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights …
“Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers.
“Its own theater companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank— and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of ‘Brand Israel’.
“During South African apartheid, musicians announced they weren’t going to ‘play Sun City’. Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.”
The list of signatories includes many high-profile artists based in Britain, including:
• Writers Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Aminatta Forna, Bonnie Greer, Mark Haddon, Hari Kunzru, Liz Lochhead, Jimmy McGovern, China Mieville, Andrew O’Hagan, Michael Rosen, Kamila Shamsie, Hanan al-Shaykh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Marina Warner, and Benjamin Zephaniah;
• Film directors Mike Hodges, Asif Kapadia, Peter Kosminsky, Mike Leigh, Phyllida Lloyd, Ken Loach, Roger Michell, Michael Radford, and Julien Temple;
• Comedians Jeremy Hardy, Alexei Sayle, and Mark Thomas
• Musicians Richard Ashcroft, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Kate Tempest, Roger Waters, and Robert Wyatt;
• Actors Rizwan Ahmed, Anna Carteret, David Calder, Simon McBurney, and Miriam Margolyes;
• Theatre writers/directors Caryl Churchill, David Edgar, Dominic Cooke CBE, Sir Jonathan Miller, and Mark Ravenhill;
• Visual artists Phyllida Barlow, John Berger, Jeremy Deller, Mona Hatoum;
• Architects Peter Ahrends and Will Alsop.
[Abridged from Electronic Intifada. For more information visit Artists for Palestine UK.]