Cultural Boycott Highlights and Cultural Worker Support for Palestinians: A Summary of 2014
January 2014: Norwegian artist Moddi courageously cancels his planned concert in Israel and writes: “I have chosen to cancel my performance in Tel Aviv on February 1st. This is without comparison the most difficult decision I have ever made as an artist, and one that hurts almost as much as it feels right. The reason for my decision is the situation in Israel and the areas it controls. Although music can be a unique arena for public debate, the debate over these territories has been misused for a long time .”
Jasiri X furthers the message about the boycott of Israel with his release of music video Checkpoint, rapping “Support BDS, don’t give a dime to the checkpoint .”
|JULY: British band Massive Attack in
Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
support BDS (Getty Images).
French musician Titi Robin shows amazing solidarity with the Palestinian people, his cancellation of his planned Israel concert is particularly significant as he had performed there in the past. He states “these journeys finally made me take this decision, which appears to me, after a long term reflection, the most honest one regarding the evolution of the situation .”
February 2014: Notable international cartoonists, including Siné, Tardi and Joe Sacco, mobilize against the presence of Sodastream at the International Festival of Comics in Angoulême, France. Ninety-nine cartoonists sign onto an open letter asking the organizers to join in the boycott of Sodastream . Other famous names in contemporary comics that signed include Alison Bechdel (“Fun Home”), Kate Beaton (“Hark A Vagrant”), Ben Katchor (“The Jew of New York”), Peter Kuper (“Spy vs. Spy”), and Jaime Hernandez.
March 2014: People’s Books Co-op in Milwaukee, WI voted to join the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel. In support of the cultural boycott the PBC will not participate in any official Israeli celebrations or festivals and will decline offers to perform or speak in Israel .
Founders of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters and Nick Mason come together in support of the BDS movement, and they both urge all bands intending to play Israel to reconsider, pointing out that “Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime .” Waters has been a supporter of, and advocate for, the BDS movement for some years now.
Playing Israel today, in this time of ever increasing Palestinian solidarity, is a huge political statement. This tweet by the Associated Press is indicative of just how big BDS has become.
“@Beyonce won’t be heading to Israel for a concert. Her rep tells @APEntertainment that reports about Bey performing in Tel Aviv are false .”
|OCTOBER: Bestselling Dominican-American author and Professor at MIT Junot Díaz endorses the cultural boycott of Israel.|
Philosopher and activist Grace Lee Boggs and actor and activist Danny Glover denounce the inclusion of the film ‘American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs’ in a government-sponsored Israeli film festival. In a strong statement they assert that: “We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and support their call for cultural and academic boycott of Israel.” This was sent to the Electronic Intifada and co-signed with ten other individuals involved with the award-winning documentary that focuses on the life and work of the 98-year-old Boggs .
NY band The Shondes write in agreement and support of the cultural boycott: “We support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS) because it pressures Israel to comply with international law: to end the illegal occupation, ensure refugees their right to return home, and guarantee full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel .”
Over 100 artists and intellectuals — including Judith Butler, Lucy Lippard, Chantal Mouffe, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, and Gayatri Spivak — observe the cultural boycott by signing on to a public letter calling on participants to withdraw from Creative Time’s travelling ‘Living as Form’ exhibition on the grounds that it is currently showing at an institution with a “central role in maintaining the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.” The missive came in response to revelations that the social practice exhibition curated by Nato Thompson had been touring in Israel for six months unbeknownst to participants, including its appearance at The Technion, a university in Haifa with extensive research-and-development links to the Israeli military and defense technology industry .
July 2014: Israel embarks on a violent attack on the people living in Gaza, which is held under illegal siege. Israel’s misleadingly termed Operation Protective Edge, eventually kills over 2,200 people (including over 510 children).
After learning about the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divest and sanctions against Israel, US rapper Talib Kweli announced on twitter that he would respect BDS. Kweli was supposed to appear in an international hip-hop, funk and groove festival planned for mid-August in Israel .
According to Israeli media, Pearl Jam implicitly supports the cultural boycott. Lead singer Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam effectively denounced Israel’s attacks on Palestinians (though without naming it) at a concert: “I swear to fucking god, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill. They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out, and mind their own fucking business. We don’t want to give them our money. We don’t want to give them our taxes to drop bombs on children .” An article in Hebrew reports on the failure to bring Pearl Jam to Israel and implicitly concludes that the reason the efforts failed was the boycott .
A huge coordinated effort was made to ask Neil young to cancel his planned gig in Israel. Roger Waters is among those who contacted Young, stating “Woody Guthrie would turn in his grave! Neil Young! ” Speculation has been made that Young allowed Israel to manipulate the reasons for his cancellation. Staging and fencing were never built for his gig in Tel Aviv, ticket refunds were made, and he did not state he would reschedule.
Numerous bands and festivals are cancelled as Israel’s offensive rages on, and Israel predictably makes the questionable claim that cancellations were made for security reasons. BDS activists continue to urge all artists to respect the boycott. Meanwhile, many artists support Palestinians on twitter . Waka Flocka Flame and French Montana are two of many groups to tweet in support of Palestine.
Nobel Peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams join with other notables to support a military embargo of Israel. Other signatories include Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, playwright Caryl Churchill, US rapper Boots Riley, João Antonio Felicio, the president of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions. Such cooperation across a wide spectrum of people is significant .
Influential Ebony magazine publishes “Why Black people Must Stand With Palestine”, drawing parallels to injustices; “Similar to the Palestinians’ call for people of conscience to boycott and divest from companies that support their oppression, we might call on people abroad to pressure an end to “the New Jim Crow”—mass incarceration .”
|AUGUST: Sinéad O’Connor dons GAZA solidarity shirt during her London concert.|
Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor cancels her show (planned for September), refusing the bow to pressure to play, and assuring her fans that she had not previously been aware of the cultural boycott . During her August show in London, the singer puts on a t-shirt with GAZA written on it (see photo).
Cultural artists join over 21,000 people in signing on to a letter to David Cameron, demanding military sanctions against Israel. Signatories include rock legend Peter Gabriel, Jemima Khan, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Brian Eno and Bryan Adams, the writers Will Self, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Esther Freud, Laura Bailey and William Dalrymple, and the actors David Morrissey, Maxine Peake and Alexei Sayle .
Brian Eno of Roxy Music fame takes an active role in the press, asserting that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC): “… seems to regard Palestinian lives as less valuable, less newsworthy .”
Award-winning band and veteran political activists Massive Attack use their headline slot at Longitude Festival in Dublin, Ireland to highlight their solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. A lit-up message behind the performers said: “Gaza has been ocupied [sic] or under restrictions since 1948 .”
Going beyond outrage at Israel’s crimes against humanity, and vocally answering the call for BDS, artists come together in “Boycott Israel.” Norwegian Don Martin, Immortal Technique, El Tipo Este of Cuban duo Obsesion, Parisian rapper Tonto Noiza, and Johannesburg-based Tumi Molekane inform listeners about BDS in different languages .
New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman tweets support for BDS, saying that although she is Israeli and she loves her country, and she formerly opposed BDS, she is ready to give BDS a chance .
The Hollywood Reporter, the largest publication covering the entertainment industry, attempts to explain the widespread support by celebrities of Palestinians with “Why Young Hollywood is More Willing to Question Israel’s Policies .”
Multiple award winning singer Selena Gomez tweets to what she calls #wearethenextgeneration to be that change, it’s about humanity, pray for Gaza.
 Her tweet stays on twitter.
Prominent Jewish people, Palestinians, and others stand for Palestine in a powerful video with Jonathan Demme (Academy Award), Gloria Steinem, Tony Kushner (Pulitzer Prize), Diana Buttu, Chuck D, Eve Ensler, Brian Eno, Roger Waters, Mira Nair (Academy Award), Wallace Shawn, Naomi Klein, Mira Nair, Raj Patel, Noura Erakat, Alison Bechdel, Urvashi Vaid and many others .
The cultural boycott of Israel is the central topic of conversation, in speculations about the real reason why the Israeli dance troupe’s performance was nixed from the program at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe show .
Magic Johnson was slated to play basketball for 5000 Israeli armed forces soldiers during an inauguration for a newly opened arena. It was reported that the Jerusalem Municipality was surprised when he refused to participate in the event.
The Hollywood Reporter notes support for Palestinians again when Oscar winners Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodovar denounce Israeli genocide in an open letter, others who signed the letter include directors Montxo Armendariz and Benito Zambrano, along with actors Lola Herrera, Eduardo Noriega and Rosa Maria Sarda; and musicians Amaral and Nacho Campillo among others . Their support also makes headlines in many large Spanish language publications such as Eldiario.es.
Video “La Palestine pleure de SANG” is released by SLM, a popular French rap duo, using images from Gaza to compelling music [29a].
Yaakov Shwekey, known for formerly playing for the Israeli military, cancels his planned concert in Israel [29aa].
Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall of Massive Attack visit the Bourj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon (see photo), and speak of their ‘love and commitment’ to supporting the plight of young Palestinian refugees. Del Naja asserts “it is important to bring attention to those Palestinians living in Lebanon since 1948: all the young people I met who weren’t born in Syria were born in Lebanon, and all of them are waiting to go home [29b].
Veteran American band Kansas backs out of a planned gig in Israel, no plans for a reschedule are firm, and full ticket refunds are given [29bb].
August 2014: The Irish artists’ pledge to support the cultural boycott of Israel reaches 500 signatures, a significant milestone for such a small country, and includes creative and performing artists residing all over the island of Ireland. Over 200 artists signed up due to Israel’s murderous attack on Gaza. 
Musician Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the acclaimed Ravi Shankar, speaks out on Israel’s attack upon Gaza: “I can’t be silent. It is genocide .” Shankar’s declaration is notable, in that she has previously bypassed the cultural boycott, playing in Israel. Her choice to become an artist of conscience now is commendable.
In an enormous victory for BDS, the Tricycle Theater refuses to host the UK Jewish Film Festival citing Israeli sponsorship [32a]. In a huge turnaround, acclaimed Irish film director Lenny Abrahamson (former Israel supporter and defender of Israel’s attack on Lebanon) publicly announces: “As a filmmaker of Jewish background I fully support the Tricycle’s position [32aa].”
Often teetering on one side or another, Russell Brand makes a case for BDS, calling for big businesses to pull funding from Israeli companies that facilitate the oppression of the people of Gaza . His video goes viral.
Many more musicians continue to cancel their planned Israel gigs as August wears on and the damage to Gaza is publicized.
South Korean directors Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker, Joint Security Area) and Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, The Unjust) were among 100 public figures, along with academics, legal experts and religious figures to sign a petition and deliver it to the Israeli embassy in Seoul. The petition refers to Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “civilian massacre” and calls on Israel to “stop immediately.” Elsewhere in the petition, the actions of Israel are described as a “war crime.” The governments of South Korea, Europe, and the US are asked to comply with what amounts to military sanctions against Israel .
Regarding Lana Del Rey’s cancellation, the Wondering Sound writes: “It’s a sad twist that Del Rey’s excellent new album is titled Ultraviolence, making her cancellation all the more tragically appropriate .” When musicians reschedule Israel they are acting to support the Israeli state, regardless of whether intentional or not.
Jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Marcus Strickland withdraw from the Red Sea Jazz Festival, an event sponsored by the Israeli government.
A group of high-profile political figures predominantly from Central America, South America and the Caribbean — including Bolivian President Evo Morales, US author Alice Walker, deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (signed with his common name “Mel Zelaya”), former Cuban president Fidel Castro,Cuban musician Silvio Rodrígiuez, Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano and others — sign onto a strongly worded statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people and support for BDS .
Numerous Norwegian actors sign a pointed statement endorsing the BDS movement, and insisting that the Norwegian National Theatre shall not be used to normalize Israel’s illegal actions. Actors Siri Austeen, Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk, Chris Erichsen, Trine Falch and dozens more signed .
Throughout August, more celebrities tweet in support of Palestine and question Israel’s actions including Mia Farrow, John Legend and footballer Joey Barton.
G4S is the British-Danish firm which provides security services to checkpoints, prisons and interrogation centers in Israel. When legendary musician Pete Wylie found out the city of Liverpool had been paying for services from G4S he argued: “I cannot condone or work with a council that sees fit to engage with G4S,” cancelling his appearance at the city’s International Music Festival in support of BDS .
Wylie’s move follows a wider campaign by local Palestine solidarity groups which has seen Liverpudlian writers, actors, musicians and other artists sign up to an open letter to the city council, criticizing its contracts with G4S. Signatories to the letter — which refers to the “appalling misery and carnage in Palestine” — include authors Frank Cottrell Boyce, Alan Gibbons and Jimmy McGovern and actor and comedian and Alexei Sayle, alongside several dozen other artists .
Renowned comedian Bill Bailey has put his voice to a powerful new video calling for medical aid to Gaza .
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies – Middle East Caucus, writes an open letter endorsing BDS .
Bryan Adams, Grammy Award, Oscar Award (among many others) winning musician, uses twitter, “..and the Israeli blockade of #Gaza just entered its 8th year, leaving its 1.7 million inhabitants destitute .”
Renowned Algerian singer Souad Massi explains with conviction why she upholds the cultural boycott of Israel, though she had been offered bookings in Israel “time and time again .”
Acclaimed film director Ken Loach spoke at the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Award Ceremony (Sarajevo film festival) honoring Palestinian directors Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi, and called for an “absolute boycott of all the cultural happenings supported by the Israeli state.” Referring to the boycott, he added “Israel must become a pariah state .”
The 20th Annual Film Festival in Bristol, England, publically refuses Israeli Embassy Funding in order to maintain a “neutral political status .”
“The oppression of one concerns that of all,” say the majority of artists and participants of the 31st São Paulo Bienal Art Exhibit, who refused to support the normalization of Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people, “We believe Israeli state cultural funding directly contributes to maintaining, defending and whitewashing their violation of international law and human rights .”
Popular Lebanese singers use twitter to raise awareness to their fans about Gaza .
The Amsterdam “Spot on Israel” show fails to normalize Dutch relations with Israel during its sojourn with the “first lady of the Israeli Habima theater.” Brave activists can be seen being assaulted and then arrested for protesting in a video that halts the small Israeli state funded show .
Many authors including Junot Díaz and Eliot Weinberger sign in agreement with the cultural boycott that: “ It is deeply regrettable that the Brooklyn Book Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel’s bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead, displaced a fourth of the population, destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals, and involved numerous potential war crimes .
Author and academic Marcelo Svirsky sets off on his Walk for BDS from Sydney to Canberra, a distance of 287 kms. He is feted by well-wishers from Sydney University Staff for BDS .
Concerts benefiting Gaza with financial contributions take place worldwide, too numerous to list here.
The Swiss Federal Council is called upon by over 640 Swiss swiss artists and cultural actors to suspend military cooperation with Israel, including canceling a recent order of Elbit H-900 military drones, which were tested in Gaza and would are intended to be used by the Swiss intelligence to monitor Switzerland’s own population .
September 2014: Notable international artists donate their work to create a series of compelling posters for Gaza .
Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi joins with Nasrin Sotoudeh to create a campaign titled “stop killing” to address the massacre in Gaza. Farhadi is considered by Time magazine (2012) to be one of the top 100 most influential people in the world .
October 2014: The Beach Boys don’t specify a reason, however they cancelled their planned gig in Israel as reported in Haa’retz and many other media outlets .
Israel especially singles out international film festivals as targets for rebranding attempts, often assigning local Israeli embassies as financial sponsors of festivals. In Belgium, the Brussels Jewish Film Festival was not exempt from this effort. The Union of Progressive Jews of Belgium (UPJB) boldly protested this by withdrawing both their participation and their sponsorship from the Brussels Jewish Film Festival .
New York Times bestselling author Junot Díaz (see photo), who received a Pulitzer Prize for his novel ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ and won the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant,” endorsed the United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Diaz asserts: “If there exists a moral arc to the universe, then Palestine will eventually be free. But that promised day will never arrive unless we, the justice-minded peoples of our world, fight to end the cruel blight of the Israeli occupation .”
Hip hop superstar Chuck D, of the groundbreaking group Public Enemy, also signaled his endorsement of USACBI .
Mira Nair reaffirms her strong support for the cultural boycott by joining numerous other artists in an open letter asking the World Music Institute (New York) not to present Israeli propagandist Idan Raichel .
 In the French Press:
 At 5:22
 In Norweigan http://www.underskrift.no/vis.asp?Kampanje=5192
 http://www.lecourrier.ch/declaration2014 and http://www.bds-info.ch/index.php/fr/home-fr/158-bds-fr/campagnes/bds-suisse/boycott-culturel-academique/921-640-swiss-artists-demand-that-the-swiss-federal-council-suspend-military-cooperation-with-israel