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Re: Boycott all Israeli Art Iinstitutions, End the Occupation

More response and comments: A reply to David Goss from Azza El-Hassan, Appeal from Birzeit University Community Members for a Boycott on Israeli Academic institutions, European petition to exclude Israel from the Eurovision Song Contest, Letter from Raheb Eliane, Link: Dying to live, Letter from Nihal Rabbani

5 May 2002

Azza El-Hassan wrote:

Dear David,

I found what you wrote very interesting because you are arguing against this boycott on the bases that Israeli art scene is multi dimensional and should not be treated in a manner that would isolate progressive artists and allow the "main stream" to dominate the scene.

As a Palestinian documentary director, based in Palestine, and who have been for sometime debating this issue with myself and with Palestinian and Israeli artists I am endorsing this boycott because I am hoping that it will force an argument within the Israeli art scene regarding their position toward occupation and Palestinian rights.

For years, taking a stand, in Israel, against occupation and the scandalous oppression of Palestinian human rights, have been left for personal ethical discretion. It is like if a person wishes to be a vegetarian or not. It is true that there has been a couple of very progressive Israeli art productions which interrogated Israeli politics but it always remained a small minority that is incapable of reflecting a movement within the society.

I believe that this boycott aims to develop an international statement by world artists to the Israeli art scene that this issue should no longer be left for personal discretion or choice. It is a statement that the situation is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. I suppose it is saying: "No, it is not ok to tolerate racist institutions or ones that are endorsing racist propositions, even if they usually allow a small margin in their events for progressive propositions in order to look good". For example, it is not ok for the Jerusalem film festival to be yearly introduced by a speech from Olmert, the mayor of Jerusalem, and who we all know his racist politics and then screen progressive films.

I hope that when these institutions find themselves unable to invite any artist from the international community will be forced to question the situation and hopefully this will lead to creating a popular movement of progressive art rather than a marginalized one. To me this boycott is like a wake up call to the Israeli art institutions hoping that it will force them to think.

I fully understand your argument that art should celebrate differences but I think this can apply to anything but human oppression. It is not ok to have Israeli art institution, which support occupation.

What I like about this boycott is that it is not against the artists but it is against institutions. In no way is this boycott calling for international organizations not to invite Israeli artists; but it is calling artists from the international community not to participate in Israeli events. I for one have always exhibited with Israeli artists outside Israel and will continue to do so but I do not need to exhibited in Israel in an institution that has not taken a clear position against my oppression.

I believe that for Israeli artists who live and work in Israel joining this boycott might be very difficult, for various logistical reasons. I would suggest that Israeli artists should make their own appeal or boycott that fits with their situation.

I can also understand that this boycott might also be difficult for Palestinian artists because after all we cannot escape dealing with the Israeli society. And I think this explains the low number of Palestinian artists who have signed this boycott. Yet, I think that this boycott is a must for any artists in the International community because it is a statement to the Israeli art institutions, which will hopefully force them to take a stand against occupation.

Best regards,

Azza El-Hassna

Riham Barghouti wrote:

Dear Friends,

Please find below an appeal and letter of support signed by members of the staff and faculty at Birzeit University. Till today, the University is unable to reconvene classes due to the continued difficulty of reaching the University. We are still collecting signatures for this letter but would like to share it with you at this time to show our full support for the various initiatives being conducted to boycott Israeli academic institutions and put pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation. We will resend the appeal when we complete collecting signatures.

Also, we are attaching for your information, the specific violations against the Birzeit University community since September 2000. However, we reaffirm here that education has been direly affected since before the present intifadah and throughout the 35 years of the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Therefore we hope that these efforts will continue until we end the occupation as the only way of ensuring full political and social rights for the Palestinian people.

Thank you for your continued efforts,

Birzeit University Community Members

May 2, 2002

Dear International Academic Community,

We, as concerned faculty and staff of Birzeit University, appeal to the international academic community to express their disapproval for the continued massive human rights violations Israel is conducting against the predominantly civilian Palestinian population by suspending ties with Israeli academic institutions, boycotting academic conferences in Israel, and pressuring universities and corporations to divest from Israel. We commend and support the initiatives currently being carried out by academics in Europe and the United States calling for a moratorium on support and collaboration with Israeli academic institutions and individuals.

Since September 29, 2000, Israel has shown a total disrespect for Palestinian human and political rights, carrying out major military strikes, killing, injuring and imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, destroying infrastructure, building and road and prohibiting Palestinian from reaching basic social services including health and educational services. This past month has witnessed massive escalation of the oppressive policies of the Israeli government and a total disregard for the international community as well. As such a boycott of all Israeli academic and research institutes should be carried out until such a time as Israel abides by all UN Resolutions by ending the occupation and complies with international human rights as accorded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is signatory.

Opponents to the call for a boycott have attempted to claim that one cannot and should not mix education with politics. However, the ongoing Israeli occupation and violent repressive policies of the Israeli government have affected all aspects of Palestinian life including education. Thousands of Palestinian children and youth have been denied their right to education, have been inflicted by constant fear, have had their schools demolished or occupied and turned into military posts, and have had their access to their academic institutions denied. We are all struggling daily to continue the educational process.

We here at Birzeit University have faced massive challenges due to the periodic bulldozing and closing of the Birzeit Ramallah road since March 2001. The destruction and closure of the road led to the loss of numerous workdays evident in the fact that this year the month of May will be the second rather than the fourth and final month of the Spring Semester. Further, the extremely difficult financial situation and isolation of Birzeit University due to the occupation has adversely affected our ability to develop necessary academic networks with the international community, effecting the quality and quantity of academic research and development carried out at Birzeit University. A full account of the various violations against Birzeit University and its students and staff since September 2001 is provided in an attached document.

As such we call on increased effort to boycott academic relations with Israel and divestment from Israel as an effective means of putting pressure on the Israeli community to take active measures to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Birzeit University Faculty and Staff Members

List of Birzeit University Faculty and Staff Members Signatories to Appeal for International Academic Boycott:

Amani Saleh, Secretary, Presidents Office
Riham Barghouti, External Relations Officer, Office of the V.P. for Admin and Finance
Sumida Abass, Business Development Officer, Office of the V.P. for Admin and Finance
Noora Baker, Administrative Assistant, Office of the V.P. for Admin and Finance
Hiam Batmani, Secretary, Office of the VP for Planning and Development
Yihya Yaish, Director, Computer Center
Hadeel Karkar, Resource Center Director, Program of Democracy and Human Rights
Muieen Barghouthi, Legal Researcher, Institute of Law
In'am El-Obeidi, Lecturer, Media Institute
Aziz Shawabkeh, Dean, Faculty of Science
Zaki A. Hasan, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department
G. Faramond, Chairman, Legal Program, Institute of Law
K. Hamdan, Programmer, Computer Center
T. Essawi, Chairman, Masters Program Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Badera Abdelhadi, Assistant, Registrars Office
Odeh Naser, Assistant, Faculty of Engineering
Haifa Sabassi, Student Counselor, Office of Student Affairs
Lubna Abdelhadi, Assistant, Public Relations Officer
Tayseer Arouri, Lecturer, Physics Department
Amr Shalakany, Lecturer, Institute of Law
Mudar Kassis, Lecturer, Philosophy Department
Liana Quieder, Librarian, Institute of Law
Carmela Armanios Omary, VP for Administrative and Financial Affairs

For more information please contact,

Riham Barghouti
External Relations Officer
Birzeit University
Birzeit, West Bank
Tel: + 972 2 298 2131
Fax: + 972 2 281 0656

Johan Melotte wrote:

Dear Sir,

We are two people (1 Dutch-speaking person and 1 French-speaking) having been very moved by the recent events in the Middle East. The lack of reaction at the political level, made us conclude that if the European population as a whole is shocked, they must react, and this by giving a symbolic but strong signal towards the Israeli people and government. That's why we decided to launch a petition. This petition relates to the Israeli participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2002, which will take place at May 25 in Tallinn (Estonia).

We intend to make pressure on the organiser of this festival, the European Broadcasting Union, to exclude the Israeli candidate from the contest, unless she begins her song with a call for peace. Just like, in a recent past, South Africa having been excluded from International Manifestations, we must also exclude a country which does not respect the Resolutions of the United Nations and disparages the International Humanitarian Laws. We also hold to insist that this petition is not directed against the Jewish people, or the Israeli people, but against a government which plays the deaf person ear, and does not seek any solution by dialogue. Our petition petition can be signed at the following link: It is also possible to download the petition forms so they can be printed. Our objective is to collect as many signatures as possible before May 20, 2002.

We are willing to answer all your questions.

Sincere greetings

Semlali Sultan Johan Melotte

Sultan Semlali : Kerkomsesteenweg 188 - 3370 Boutersem (Belgium) - phone : +32 (0) 477 953259 (Fr-Eng) Johan Melotte : Padbroekweg 26 - 3550 Heusden Zolder (Belgium) - phone : +32 (0) 477 436785 (Dutch-Eng)

Raheb Eliane wrote:

dear freinds

will you add my ideas and comments to the other ones? thanks

*i would like to inform you about other things that happened concerning the Docaviv festival.

Due to the pressure arab filmmakers made on marseille documentary festival, asking it's director, M. Rehm not to participate in Docaviv festival, where he was supposed to give a price to the best "Israeli film" and invite the winner to his own festival, M. Rehm decided to withdraw from docaviv. Arab filmmakers threatened M. Rehm to boycott marseille festival for the coming 3 years if he would have partcicipated in docaviv festival Thanks God, he didn't.

So I suggest that whenever there are israeli events, we don't only boycott them, but we make a pressure group, that threatens to boycott the institution making this event for at least the two coming years.

let's try to know in advance what are the israeli activities in the world and prepare those pressure groups.

*it's funny and strange that I always find people who talk about Avi Mograbi. I would like to advice Raed not to talk a lot with M. Moghrabi because it's a waist of time. M. Moghrabi pretends to be a man of dialog, and pretends to sympathize with the palestnians, but...after you see his film about sharon, tell me what do you feel?

I met personaly M. Mograbi last year in Marseille, where he was showing 3 of his films in a retrospective about his work. I accepted to go and watch his films because i heard that he was a leftist, and he once refused to serve with the israeli army when he was young, otherwise I would have never go and watch them.

But...Have you ever watch his film about Ariel Sharon? I think it's the most dangerous film i ever saw, where M.Avi, who starts by criticizing Sharon in his film, finishes by promoting him. the film was supposed to be a sarcastic film, but unfortunately it wasn't, especially when I knew after that Sharon himself liked the film, and it was projected at least 2 times on tv before its successful election...

In the discussion after the film I expressed my opinion to Avi, who unfortunately couldn't get why I was so upset. As a filmmaker myself, I was two times more upset of the film, because i know how a filmmaker uses images to reach an idea he wants. The thing I disliked most, was the "use" of the Sabra and Chatilla massacres pictures in the film, not as a reality we lived in Lebanon, but as video art! For Avi, other poeple's suffering is art! not reality! Besides, another way Avi "used" these pictures, (because thye;'re used many times in the film) is to make them become "the pictures of his unconscious", where he wants to show that his "mind is being tortured by Sabra and Chatilla crimes", so that the spectator identify more and more with him in the film, and this allows him to promote more and more the idea behind his film: Sharon. Unfortunately, Avi, the "leftist Israeli", was using the Palestinian suffering to promote his art, which was promoting Sharon indirectly. Once again, this was for me the identical "use" the Israeli do out of the palestinian suffering to promote their state and its democratie.

I could say a lot about this film, about the way one can film his enemy, if he wants him to appear as the "enemy". I told Avi that I can film Hitler eating and sleeping and playing with his animals in his ranch, the same way he filmed Sharon, and everybody will like Hitler because he looks human in my film. This is where the filmmaker has an ethical duty towards his audience. And for me, if Avi was really in this film a decent filmmaker, he would have decided to stop or burn this film, disregarding its cinematographical quality. This is where i wonder if Avi- who seems to be a nice person when you talk to, and who looked worried because i didn't like the film- is really refusing the Israeli policy and sharon's one in palestine and the region...Unfortunately, our suffering seems to be only "pictures" for him, and seems to make him, and other israeli filmmakers, feel we are the perfect subjects for them to make films and documentaries about us. I wonder what will they do if we disappear from their lives? will they stop making films??

buon giorno!!

visit this website:

Nihal Rabbani wrote:

What is a comment like, "If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution" by Emma Goldman supposed to mean? That if she is unable to continue benefitting from a fascist regime by revolting against its refusal to offer Palestinian artists equal rights that she would prefer to remain a part of it? Because only her rights are worthy of being acknowledged? Under which context did this line get added to her message?

Sorry to say so, but this attitude reminds me a lot of a talented yet dangerous and ambitious film maker named Leni Riefenstahl (sp?) during WWII.

I wish that people with such careless, self-serving attitudes would stop only thinking of their benefits and perhaps try to imagine what it would be like if it wasn't even up to them to determine whether or not they could dance or join the revolution. And what it feels like for a Palestinian artist to hear someone who has the freedom to contribute towards a change in artistic freedom for all, righteously dismiss such an inconvenience because it doesn't benefit them.

Now this is the very reason why these boycotts appeared, because even within the Israeli art establishment, racism is tolerated as long as it does not ostracize Jews. Because that is exactly what Israel stands for, a democracy only meant for Jews.

I must say that I found Emily's comments very passionate, inspiring and certainly strong enough to defeat anyone willing to challenge her. As a Palestinian dealing with these very same naive peace-lecturing ignorant Europeans on a daily basis I can relate to every word she wrote. I also find it heartbreaking to witness that even in this boycott appeal, an invisible wall exisits between the Palestinans and the naive and somewhat selfish desires of some of the Jewish artists. Some are unwilling to even open their eyes for the purpose of self-interest, others possibly because they are living in Tel Aviv, the epitome of artistic apartheid, the most deceptive illusion of artistic freedom-- for whom is the question? Not us!

Just scroll down and read all the comments-- and you will detect who is who in no time. Then repeat the procedure and try to detect who actually possesses the artistic freedom to determine whether or not a revolution could take place within Israeli society. And who has the power to do so. They're the ones who refuse!! I just couldn't help but notice that the majority of Israelis and Europeans were the ones who opposed this boycott because it would threaten their level of comfort and freedom, even though they understand perfectly well that yielding away from their sheltered world and making the necessary concessions would mean improved conditions and more exposure for all, which includes Palestinian artists. So don't tell me that art isn't political-- it is when you tolerate a regime like this one!

I really hope that people start to realize that Israeli artists are not all they make themselves out to be and that they are contributing to and funded by just as much phoniness, corruption, nationalism, racism, and negligence as Israeli politicians are. It is up to the artists themselves to determine whether or not they want to remain authentic and maintain their integrity or to sell out and fool themselves with their artistic jibberish, protected by a racist paradise.