Over 1,200 UK artists have now pledged to heed the Palestinian people's call to boycott apartheid Israel.The pledge, which was launched on 14 February 2015 with a letter in The Guardian newspaper and a new website, 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 Guardian letter went on to add that:
Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers. Its own theater companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank – and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of “Brand Israel.” During South African apartheid, musicians announced they weren’t going to “play Sun City.” Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.
The list of signatories includes many high-profile artists based in the UK, including:
Writers Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Aminatta Forna, Bonnie Greer, Mark Haddon, Hari Kunzru, Liz Lochhead, Jimmy McGovern, China Mieville, Andrew O’Hagan, Michael Rosen, Kamila Shamsie, Hanan al-Shaykh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Marina Warner, Benjamin Zephaniah
Film directors Mike Hodges, Asif Kapadia, Peter Kosminsky, Mike Leigh, Phyllida Lloyd, Ken Loach, Roger Michell, Michael Radford, Julien Temple
Comedians Jeremy Hardy, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas
Musicians Richard Ashcroft, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Kate Tempest, Roger Waters, Robert Wyatt
Actors Rizwan Ahmed, Anna Carteret, David Calder, Simon McBurney, Miriam Margolyes
Theater writers/directors Caryl Churchill, David Edgar, Dominic Cooke CBE, Sir Jonathan Miller, Mark Ravenhill
Visual artists Phyllida Barlow, John Berger, Jeremy Deller, Mona Hatoum
Architects Peter Ahrends, Will Alsop
Many of those participating added moving statements to their signatures, outlining the reasons why they felt the need, as creatives, to take this step. Director and screenwriter Michael Radford’s sentiment was:
As the son of a Jewish refugee, the anger and despair I feel can only faintly echo that of the people of Gaza. Art is a celebration of humanity, and the symbolic gesture of refusing any artistic collaboration with a state which values its own contribution to the arts so highly is the least we can do to protest against the horrifying inhumanity of its actions.
The full range of artists’ statements can be found on the pledge website.
I have added my name, will you?