Indian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

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Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French... What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct.

 

Mahatma Gandhi

Editorial, The Harijan, 26-11-1938

Friends of Palestine Respond to InCACBI Call to Boycott the Cameri in Delhi

Friends of Palestine Respond to InCACBI Call to Boycott the Cameri in Delhi

Nov. 5, 2012

On Sunday evening, November 4th, about 60 friends of Palestine -- theatre persons, writers, artists, film makers, academics, students and activists -- gathered outside Delhi’s Siri Fort auditorium, the venue for the Israeli state-sponsored performance by The Cameri Theatre. Their form of protest was an unusual one.  All of them wore T shirts which said, in bold black letters on white, No to Israeli Apartheid. There were no slogans or placards. Instead, they stood around the entrance, distributing leaflets and talking to theatre goers about the boycott. A few theatre goers actually responded and did not go in. A couple even joined the protest. One woman, who took a T shirt to wear inside, found a different form of discrimination being practiced in the auditorium; the Israeli theatre goers were let in, but the Indians had to wait. She read the leaflet in her hand, came out to join the protestors.

As always with Israel-linked events, there was police presence, with a SWAT vehicle parked outside the auditorium. At first, the police did not interfere with the protestors as they distributed leaflets. But in a while, with instructions from above, the police force increased dramatically; policewomen arrived since many of the protestors were women; and a Black Maria made its appearance as well. Some of the policemen tried to provoke the protestors. The protestors remained peaceful but asserted their right to be there; they pointed out that they were not shouting slogans or stopping anyone from going in to the auditorium. A clear message was sent to all present, theater-goers, organizers, annoyed Israelis, even a few curious policemen: Indians of conscience will not stand by while the State of Israel occupies Palestinian lands and imposes its apartheid policies on the Palestinian people.

InCACBI

You can watch a video report of the protest here on Youtube: http://youtu.be/C_uYaFx4SxM 

This is the leaflet that was distributed by the protestors:

 

DON’T LET ISRAELI APARTHEID ONSTAGE!

BOYCOTT THE CAMERI THEATRE IN DELHI

WHAT IS ISRAELI APARTHEID?

The word apartheid means separation. The UN defines apartheid as “…a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination” to “establish and maintain domination by one racial group… over another… and systematically oppressing them…” by creating ghettos, land confiscation, bans on freedom of movement, speech assemblies and mixed marriages, and illegal arrest and detention.

Israeli apartheid: two separate and unequal systems

§  Palestinians live under military law; they face the constant threat of arrest and detention. They can be held indefinitely without charge, and no right to representation or trial.

§  Palestinian villages and towns face collective punishment in the form of bulldozing of family houses, extended 24 hour curfews, closures, military raids, violence and harassment. 

§  Palestinian land ownership (agricultural and residential) is subject to military and economic confiscation. The purpose is to establish Jewish only settlements, take water resources and confine the Palestinian population into smaller and smaller cantons.

§  Over 17,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished, leaving a hundred thousand homeless. Over a million Palestinian olive and fruit trees have been uprooted. 

BOYCOTT AS A TOOL FOR CHANGE

The South African experience has shown us that solidarity movements can, through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), pressurize the international community and the government of South Africa to dismantle the apartheid state. In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued an international BDS call to all organizations and people of conscience to strive for broad boycotts and divestment initiatives against Israel. Since then, this BDS call has been endorsed by over 170 Palestinian parties, organizations, trade unions and movements representing the Palestinian people in the 1967 and 1948 territories and in the diaspora. Across the world, including from within Israel, the BDS movement has gained tremendous support for its aims of ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands guaranteeing the right of return to all Palestinian refugees, and equal rights for all Palestinians and Israelis.

WHY BOYCOTT THE CAMERI THEATRE?

The Cameri Theatre serves as an official propaganda tool for the State of Israel and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. For example: it chooses to perform in the illegal settlement of Ariel.

Ariel is one of the largest settlements in the occupied West Bank, located on expropriated agricultural Palestinian land, in violation of international law. Illegal Ariel, surrounded by walls and fences, and closely guarded by soldiers and armed security personnel, contaminates Palestinian water and agricultural lands. A theatrical performance in this illegal settlement is, by definition, a performance to an exclusively Israeli audience. Palestinians living even in the nearest village are physically excluded from attending. By performing in such circumstances, the Cameri legitimizes and profits from Israel’s illegal colonization policies, and becomes an accomplice to these crimes.

 

The Cameri often chooses to stage plays that convey “humane” messages to deflect criticism. But it is ready to perform these “humane” plays on stolen land – excluding the people of that stolen land suffering the occupier’s military rule. “Culture” and the “arts” do not operate in a non-political wonderland. The best of artists know this well. Renowned British theatre director Peter Brook, much admired in India as well, cancelled his theatre troupe’s participation at the International Festival for Plays of The Cameri Theatre in December 2012. Brook wrote that The Cameri Theatre’s support of “the brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel in the West Bank” led to his decision to decline performing in the Cameri Theatre’s festival.

Many Israeli theatre artists, intellectuals and activists have been in the forefront of the boycott of Ariel, and have refused to perform in it. This campaign, which has been by threats and denunciation by the Israeli prime minister and the Knesset, has received the support of highly acclaimed Israeli academics and authors, including Amos Oz and David Grossman.

BRAND ISRAEL

The Brand Israel campaign, organized by the Israeli Foreign Service, targets the growing international awareness of Israel’s widespread abuses. Israeli artists, performers, and academics offer their presentations divorced from the oppressive context in which they function, portraying Israel as a “vibrant, multi-cultural democracy” and ignoring the lives of the Palestinian population under occupation. Academics and artists who receive support from the Israeli government are required to participate in this project of counter-spin. As participants in Brand Israel, they become complicit in the preservation of the occupation and Israeli apartheid.

CALL FROM InCACBI

By hosting The Cameri Theatre’s performance in Delhi, the DIAF organisers endorse The Cameri Theatre’s complicity with Israeli occupation of Palestine and the state’s apartheid policies against Palestinians. We condemn this plan to woo Israel and promote links between Indian and Israel by compromising cultural practitioners as well as citizens of conscience in both India and Israel. We have to make it clear to the State of Israel and institutions supported by it that Israel cannot be admitted into the global cultural arena as long as it does not recognize the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, equality and justice. At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel’s colonial and racist policies, we should not showcase India in Israel or welcome groups such as The Cameri Theatre to India. Israel’s apartheid policies cannot be whitewashed with “culture”, “art” or “festivals”. We call upon all members of the theatre, film and arts world in India and the academic community to join us in protesting against these attempts.

Don’t endorse Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israel’s apartheid policies. Boycott the Cameri Theatre and take a stand for a just peace in Palestine.

Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)

www.incacbi.in ; facebook.com/IndianCACBI ; twitter.com/InCACBI ; incacbi@gmail.com

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