Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cultural boycott and misinformation

This is a response written by Anne Marie Jacir to Elia Suleiman's boycott of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Felt obliged to post it...

Many of the opponents of a cultural boycott of Israeli institutions have been spreading misinformation about boycott and dismantling the hard work of many people. The most incorrect and most harmful fabrication is that the boycott is directed at individual Israelis. Elia’s Suleiman’s recent letter brings up some very important points, namely that certain Israeli individuals have indeed been mistreated at film festivals recently by people who also believe in boycott. This reality is a shame and should be addressed. To be clear, the call for boycott has always been very explicit –always directed at institutions or organizations that receiveIsraeli government funds and/or remain silent on Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. It has never been directed at individuals. In all the letters, petitions, calls and information about boycott, this has been made absolutely clear. That is not to say that some people in the world, some who have happened to sign the boycott and some who probably don’t even know acted in ways that are harmful, racist or unfair.

Secondly the boycott is not called for "by Palestinian and Lebanese artists". The boycott is, in fact, called for by Palestinian artists and asking for the support of the international community in this struggle. If you look closely at the signatories of boycott, you will see that the call is from 123 Palestinian artists. In the longlist of non-Palestinian endorsements, you will also see that infact, more Israelis and Jews have signed in support of boycott than Lebanese. As a supporter of the boycott, I believe in what it attempts. As Nelson Mandela said, boycott is not a principle but a tactic depending on circumstances. For many, boycott is a non-violent method to resist the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Especially at a time where, after 58 years of resisting Israeli oppression and apartheid, nothing else has worked. So when certain individuals act in ways I may not agree with, I know they do it as independent people. And certainly not in the name of the boycott I signed and believe in. And with all respect to the Israeli filmmakers who were mistreated, the case for boycott is much bigger than the random incidents that made them feel isolated. As true supporters of the Palestinian cause, I would hope they would understand that and that thei solidarity is not so fragile or based on what happens to them at film festivals but rather at what happens to the millions of Palestinians struggling for their freedom every day.

Annemarie Jacir

No comments: