FROM ISRAELI CITIZENS TO ITALIAN ARTISTS AND ORGANIZERS:
DON'T DANCE WITH ISRAELI APARTHEID!CANCEL THE ROY ASSAF DANCE SHOWS!
To the attention of:
Municipality of Forli
Manuela Kustermann –Artistic Director, Teatro Vascello, Roma
Marco Ciuti – Administrative Director, Teatro Vascello, Roma
Ruggero Sintoni, Claudio Casadio, Lorenzo Bazzocchi e Claudio Angelini – Artistic Directors, Teatro Diego Fabbri, Forlì
To the media
We are Israeli citizens, active against our government’s policies of racism, occupation and apartheid. We have learned that the Israeli dance company Roy Assaf Dance is scheduled to perform at Teatro Vascello of Rome (12 e13/11) and Teatro Diego Fabbri of Forlì (15/11).
This dance company will be performing with the sponsorship of the Cultural Office of the Israeli Embassy. Doing so amounts to participation in the propaganda campaign named Brand Israel (1). The purpose of this project is to whitewash human rights' violations by the Israeli Government. It should be stated that in 2005, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit of the Israeli Ministry of the Foreign Affairs declared: "We see culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture". (2)
In addition to Israel’s sponsorship of art in the service of its propaganda, it subjects Palestinian artists to severe violations of human rights. Some cases which should be mentioned in this context are the circus performer Abu Sakha (3), who is now in administrative detention without trial, or the poet Dareen Tatour (4), who is now in house arrest due to a poem she published. Furthermore, the Israeli government has introduced a policy of cutting financial support to Israeli artists who refuse to to perform in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.v(5)
The Israeli government violates Palestinian human rights and international law, by imposing on millions of Palestinians a regime of military occupation and apartheid, and committing crimes against humanity with the indiscriminate killing and wounding of thousands of civilians, as in the repeated attacks on, and the medieval siege of, the Gaza Strip.
As you probably know, a global boycott campaign against cultural projects sponsored by the White apartheid South African regime gained vast support several decades ago, and helped bring about an end to injustice and apartheid in South Africa. There can be no space for a use of culture as propaganda, disguised as apolitical and neutral.
Following this experience of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, more than 170 organizations of the Palestinian civil society have launched the movement for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) support the rights to freedom and equality of the Palestinian people claiming the right of living in freedom in their own land. Palestinian civil society has condemned the cynical use of culture and arts and the funding by the Israeli government of cultural events for propaganda purposes. We would like to stress that the BDS campaign does not target Israeli artists as such, and individual artists who are not sponsored by the regime and not involved in apartheid propaganda are not boycottable..
As Israeli citizens, we call on you to take a stand for justice and equality. 30 and 40 years ago, festival organizers all over the world stood with South Africans struggling against apartheid, and endorsed the BDS campaign at the time. Now, more than ever, international organizers of art and culture events are required to stand with the oppressed Palestinian people and help bring about an end to Israel’s policies of racism, occupation and apartheid.
Therefore, we urge the Teatro Vascello of Rome and Teatro Diego Fabbri of Forlì to cancel the shows of Roy Assaf Dance. We also call on all Italian art and culture institutions to end all collaboration with the Embassy of Israel in Italy and the other Israeli government institutions.
We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within