Palestinian artists, cultural groups and human rights supporters have welcomed the Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia’s cancellation of her planned March performance in Tel Aviv and thanked her for deciding to be “on the right side of history, on the side of the oppressed”.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which is part of the Palestinian leadership of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, said: “Just as conscientious artists refused to entertain Apartheid South Africa, Natalie Imbruglia is refraining from lending her name to cover up Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”
Imbruglia has supported various justice efforts, from women’s rights through the Northern Rivers Community Foundation to Oxfam.
The decision to cancel the show comes as Israel escalates its ethnic cleansing. In defiance of the recent UN Security Council resolution 2334, which reiterates that all Israeli settlements are a “flagrant violation” of international law, Israel has intensified its building of settlements.
It has recently passed a law that would retroactively legitimise its land grab of private Palestinian lands. Israel has also escalated its forced displacements of Palestinian communities in the Naqab (Negev), Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, drawing condemnation from across the world.
The PACBI spokesperson added: “Under these circumstances, refraining from performing in Tel Aviv becomes an ethical obligation, for else one would become complicit in whitewashing Israel’s egregious human rights violations. We call on all artists and academics not to become an accessory to Israel’s attempts at rebranding.”
When launching the Brand Israel propaganda campaign in 2005, Israeli foreign ministry official Nissim Ben-Sheetrit said: “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits. This way, you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”
As part of this campaign, Israel has subsidised visits by artists, academics and music bands, among others, to help project an image of normalcy.
The non-violent BDS movement has chalked a number of impressive achievements lately in the academic, cultural and economic spheres.
Desmond Tutu, among the earliest leading figures to endorse BDS, once wrote in the context of supporting a BDS-related campaign: “As South Africans, we recognize institutionalised racism when we see it. We have experienced the corrosive effects of segregation…
“It is unconscionable to remain silent, or neutral, in the face of injustice.”
[Abridged from BDSmovement.net.]