Israeli Citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Novotvar Festival in Slovakia


October 2021


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Israeli Citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Novotvar Festival in Slovakia

To: Organizers of the Novotvar Literary Festival

We are a group of Israeli citizens, who are active against our government's severe violations of human rights and international law [1]. We are writing to you with regard to the Novotvar Festival. We understand that the Israeli embassy in Slovakia is a co-sponsor of the festival. 

While we value the sharing of arts and culture, we are afraid that your acceptance of Israeli embassy sponsorship serves the propaganda purposes of an Israeli government which commits war crimes. We strongly believe that this contradicts the spirit of humanism underlying your festival.

The Israeli government practices what notable international experts, including Desmond Tutu and human rights defenders, have recognized as 'apartheid' [2] or an even worse form of human rights violation [3]. These Israeli policies deprive millions of Palestinians of their basic human rights. Moreover, severe discrimination to the extent of apartheid also exists within Israel's recognized borders, against its Palestinian citizens, with over 65 discriminatory laws [4]. This should be all the more evident from Israel's recent legislation of the so-called Nation State Law, which grants a constitutional stamp of approval to discrimination against millions of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories [5]. 

In addition to apartheid policies, Israel uses extreme violence to enforce siege and occupation on Gaza and the West bank. Please note Israel's recent attack on Gaza, during which IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman has admitted that Israel’s actions in Gaza are “as far from pinpoint accuracy as you can get. They’re making Gaza City shake.” [6]. Meanwhile in the West Bank, Israeli forces kidnap and detain children [7], and escort Israeli settlers on pogroms in which the skulls of 3 year-old Palestinian children are fractured [8]. 

After decades of systematic oppression, there is now near unanimous global condemnation of Israel's occupation, discrimination and expulsion of Palestinians. This is due to a long, persistent struggle, including a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), initiated by Palestinian civil society [11]. This campaign is based on the global campaign to end apartheid in South Africa in the late 20th century.  

One of the main tactics used by the Israeli foreign ministry is to divert attention from its crimes through cultural whitewashing. This has been stated clearly by Israeli officials: "We are seeing culture as a hasbara [advocacy] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture" [13]. 

The Israeli government is counting on festivals such as yours to help its propaganda efforts. In doing so, the Israeli government subverts artistic work, to serve the perpetuation of a racist oppressive system. By co-sponsoring a festival with the Israeli embassy in Slovakia, you are lending legitimacy to the Israeli government's apartheid policies and allowing these to continue. In the name of humanism and tolerance, as Israeli citizens, we urge you to refuse co-sponsorship of the Festival with the Israeli embassy! 

We will gladly address any comments or questions you may have. 


Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)