Filmmaker Barbara Hammer pulls out of Israeli fellowship: ‘I accept and exercise my social responsibility as an artist not to lend legitimacy to the State of Israel as long as it continues the occupation.’

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

The groundbreaking experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer has announced that she will refuse an artistic fellowship at the newly created American Academy in Jerusalem. Although the Forward is reporting that she “dropped out of the program yesterday for personal reasons,” her actual reasons are decidedly more political.

Here is an email that was shared with us where Hammer explains her decision:

From: Barbara Hammer
Date: July 5, 2011 10:40:19 AM EDT
Subject: Letter of Declension to the Foundation for Jewish Culture and the American Academy in Jerusalem

July 5, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

After much deliberation, I have turned down the Fellowship offered me by the Foundation for Jewish Culture to attend the first American Academy in Jerusalem from October 23-December 23, 2011.

I stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. Although I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not endorse all their claims, I do oppose the occupation and do not want to normalize it. I accept and exercise my social responsibility as an artist not to lend legitimacy to the State of Israel as long as it continues the occupation.

My conscience will not allow me either to participate in programs funded by the current Israeli government at this point in time, or to show my films at venues that receive funding from that government. I stand in support of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who believe in justice for all, equal representation, and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian peoples. It is the least I can do. The most is yet to be seen.

Barbara Hammer
Film Director
New York, New York

17 Responses

  1. annie
    July 5, 2011, 6:09 pm

    wonderful, thank you Barbara.

    • MRW
      July 5, 2011, 6:20 pm

      Fabulous. I second Annie.

      • Pamela Olson
        July 5, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Another nail in the coffin of injustice.

      • James
        July 5, 2011, 7:52 pm

        ditto.. kudos to barbara for speaking out on something that needs more people like her to speak out on..

  2. Taxi
    July 5, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Bravo! Big fan of both your films and your humanness.

  3. eGuard
    July 5, 2011, 7:57 pm

    She has posted this letter below the Forward article.

  4. kareem
    July 6, 2011, 10:39 am

    A google news search does not reveal anything beyond the “personal reasons” account.

    Why is that?

    • annie
      July 6, 2011, 11:20 am

      it’s on the web but not in the news. the reason is that it’s embarrassing for the state of israel. the msm follows the blogs w/info embarrassing israel so only if the blogs make a stink about it will it surface in the mainstream, usually.

  5. GuiltyFeat
    July 6, 2011, 11:32 am

    I thought this was a wonderfully worded letter which deserves wider circulation.

    Although I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not endorse all their claims, I do oppose the occupation and do not want to normalize it.

    I stand in support of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who believe in justice for all, equal representation, and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian peoples.

    Even-handed, but firm. Forthright not not vicious. Ms. Hammer is clearly a throughtful person of considerable integrity.

    I know you don’t care how Israelis respond to these kinds of things, but it is individual actions like this and, just as importantly, the way it has been framed, that will present the most unassailable case to Israeli consciences.

    • Shmuel
      July 6, 2011, 11:54 am

      Even-handed, but firm. Forthright not not vicious. Ms. Hammer is clearly a throughtful person of considerable integrity.

      Indeed, but she’s boycotting the Israeli government and not just settlement products, and expresses solidarity with Israelis who support BDS. Furthermore, how many Lebanese or Syrian awards has she turned down? Has she condemned Hamas’ war crimes?

      I’m sure the vast majority of Israelis are not impressed by the way in which she has framed her participation in BDS. As far as I know, all artists who have chosen to participate in the boycott thus far have been forthright and thoughtful. I don’t recall any viciousness.

      By all means circulate this letter, although I have a sneaking suspicion that you won’t.

      • GuiltyFeat
        July 6, 2011, 12:09 pm

        She’s an individual boycotting the Israeli government and institutions that receive government funding. She is not boycotting Israelis. I can get behind that.

        In choosing not to play a concert in Israel, someone like Roger Waters makes no impact on the government but rather boycotts Israelis of all religions and political beliefs. I can’t get behind that. Like the siege of Gaza (although considerably more trivial of course) it is a blunt form of collective punishment that serves no constructive purpose.

      • Mooser
        July 6, 2011, 1:00 pm

        “I can’t get behind that.”

        You are an Israeli, and you will do what you are told by superior Israelis, who are instructed by God His Very Own God-dammed self.

        And if you should, by some miracle, do something Israel (and therefore God, natch) doesn’t approve of, they will kick you out or kill you. So shut up, already. Please stop trying to convince us you have the slightest personal choice.

      • Mooser
        July 6, 2011, 1:02 pm

        “it is a blunt form of collective punishment”

        Holy Crap! There’s very little I can say to that, and expect the “MODS” to pass it, except, will you please give us an accounting of how many Israelisw this “collective punishment” has killed, or even injured?

      • Shmuel
        July 6, 2011, 1:12 pm

        GF,

        The cornerstone of the academic and cultural boycott (PACBI) is institutional, involving government support or the sponsorship/involvement of institutions or companies directly complicit in the occupation. Leonard Cohen’s concert, for example, was sponsored by an Israeli bank complicit in construction in the OT, and Shakira participated in an event hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres, etc.

        There is also the question of performing in a context of apartheid, where Palestinians from the WB and Gaza are unable to attend concerts and other cultural events held in Israel or even in E. Jerusalem (although Jewish settlers from the same areas are free to travel wherever they like).

        And then there is the matter of “normalizing” occupation (as Ms. Hammer put it), by performing and participating in cultural events, as if there were no occupation or apartheid going on.

        Were artists who refused to play Sun City also guilty of “collective punishment”?

        Well, at least you can get behind institutional BDS. That’s a huge step forward, and actually covers most BDS initiatives.

    • Taxi
      July 6, 2011, 12:37 pm

      Put yer money where yer mouth is for a CHANGE gf and actually declare to the world that you too are not a member of BDS but you FULLY SUPPORT IT’S ACTIONS AGAINST THE ISREALI OCCUPATION.

      Or was that pretty little song and dance of yours aimed at making us forget that you’re an international-law breaking colonial living on occupied territory?

      If you’re really sincere, you’d actually move out of the settlements and demand your other zionist neighbors do the same.

      Walk the walk gf – stop the BS.

      • Mooser
        July 6, 2011, 1:04 pm

        “Or was that pretty little song and dance of yours….”

        If that’s a “pretty little song and dance” I’m Fred Astaire with palmate antlers and a dewlap.

      • MRW
        July 7, 2011, 3:42 pm

        dewlap …. ;-)

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