A new video released by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel features eight leading artists stating, “I endorse the cultural boycott of Israel.” The artists include Tony-nominated stage and television actress Kathleen Chalfant; musician Roger Waters, a founding member of Pink Floyd; musicians Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio; musicians Kool A.D and Tamar-kali; artist and author of Drawing Blood, Molly Crabapple; and visual artist Swoon.
The movement for a global boycott of Israel — launched by a coalition of over 170 Palestinian trade unions, political parties and human rights groups in order to advance their movement for freedom, justice and equality — has steadily gained support worldwide over the last decade. The video was released by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel and is accompanied by an appeal for more cultural workers to pledge their support for the boycott of Israel.
When asked why she participated in the video, Kathleen Chalfant said: “The Israeli government and army restrict the freedom of Palestinian cultural workers almost daily. A growing movement for the cultural boycott of Israel helps to amplify the voices of Palestinian artists who are struggling under occupation, and will help to pressure Israel to respect the rights of Palestinian artists, and of all Palestinians.”
The Israeli government launched a Brand Israel public relations campaign in 2006, which attempts to use art and music to distract attention from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Nonetheless, a growing number of artists have declined to perform or participate in cultural events in Israel or with institutions complicit with Israeli rights abuses, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Santana, Talib Kweli, the late Gil Scott Heron, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power,Stevie Wonder, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Alice Walker, Mike Leigh,Arundhati Roy, and Jean Luc Godard.
Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio commented, “With Israel heightening its repression of the Palestinian people in the last weeks, we hope that our speaking out will help encourage others to support the boycott by refusing to perform in Israel, and refusing to participate in activities funded by the Israeli government or supported by institutions complicit in Israeli human rights abuses.”
The video begins with Kyp Malone, Roger Waters and Kathleen Chalfant citing three of many recent examples of Israel’s repression of Palestinian cultural workers.
The eight artists then speak in turn about the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes by Zionist forces in 1948, and Israel’s ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes, theft of farmland, arrest of Palestinian children, and siege and blockade of Gaza, activities subsidized by $120 billion in US aid since 1967.
Kyp Malone calls for action, “where governments have failed,” and Tunde Adebimpe follows up, noting that, “In 2004, Palestinian civil society called for a cultural boycott of Israel.” Swoon then explains, “Cultural boycott is an ethical rights-based tactic with historical precedent.” The video concludes with all eight artists stating their support for the boycott, after Roger Waters implores viewers to “join the cultural boycott of Israel.”
Riham Barghouti, a member of Adalah-NY and a former dancer with the Palestinian dabke troupe El-Funoun, added, “With this video, which features prominent artists with connections to New York City, Adalah-NY is also launching a call for more cultural workers in New York, the US and around the world to publicly pledge to support the Palestinian boycott call. This is the most significant, proactive initiative for the cultural boycott of Israel ever undertaken in New York City.”
Ninety New York City cultural workers and groups have already signed a New York City-focused pledge to support the cultural boycott, including the musician Sonny Singh, the illustratorSeymour Chwast, and the band the Shondes. On the national level, over 400 US cultural workers have endorsed a statement supporting the cultural boycott that is hosted by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).