Cultural Boycott


“Today there’s no question: an artist or intellectual who collaborates with activities funded or approved by the Israeli state is complicit in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.” – Ahdaf Soueif

February 2015 saw the launch of Artists for Palestine UK. Over 600 artists, including well-known actors, authors and performers, signed the organisation’s Pledge for Palestine.

The pledge reads: “We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The organisation has produced a booklet The Case for a Cultural Boycott of Israel, which both argues the case for a boycott and gives some practical advice on ‘when should I act and why’.

The Palestinian call for boycott does not target individual artists according to their nationality, their beliefs or the content of their art. It focuses on ties to the Israeli state. The issue is whether an artist or company is state-funded or serves as cultural ambassador for Israel. So, for example, the 2012 UK tour by the Israeli state-funded Batsheva dance company attracted widespread protests.

As for visiting Israel, the advice is to refuse any invitation unless it is to work with those who explicitly oppose the occupation. So, again for example, London’s Globe Theatre were urged not to perform at the Cameri theatre in Tel-Aviv in March 2016 as that theatre is an Israeli national institution and indeed stages performances in the illegal settlement of Ariel. Similarly, artists were urged not to take part in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest as it is hosted by Israel.

The website for Artists for Palestine UK is HERE.

“I often feel in despair when I think of the suffering of the Palestinian people living and dying under an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights. I agonise over what I, as one individual, can do to help right such an enormous wrong. This boycott pledge is an action that all of us in the artistic community can take. It will cost artists very little to join this boycott but it could help achieve justice, freedom and a lastingpeace.” Alexei Sayle