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PACBI | 16 January 2011

Boycott the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on its US Tour!

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel appeals to BDS activists in the United States to boycott the US tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) in February and March 2011, due to its complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights. The IPO is scheduled to perform in Palm Beach, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles [1]. We urge activists to continue the principled tradition of activists in New York and Los Angeles in 2007, when they protested the IPO’s appearance in their cities. [2]

The IPO is one of the flagship institutions of the Israeli state, tracing its history to the 1930’s under the British Mandate. The IPO Foundation describes the orchestra as “Israel’s musical ambassador,” [3] while the American Friends of the IPO says this about it:

Often said to have more heart than other orchestras, the IPO is Israel’s finest cultural emissary and travels throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. In some cases, performances of the IPO are the only example of Israel’s existence. The goodwill created by these tours, which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China and India, is of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene [4]

As befits an institution that identifies with the Israeli state, the IPO proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts [5].

The orchestra has lent itself to the official Israeli propaganda campaign titled Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements. [6]

Given the orchestra’s strong association with the Israeli state and other Zionist organizations involved in “brand-Israel” activities [7], PACBI calls upon all BDS activists in the United States to organize activities to protest and boycott the orchestra’s concerts. As long as it continues to partner with the state in planning, implementing, and whitewashing war crimes and international law violations, the Israeli cultural establishment cannot expect to be exempted from the growing boycott movement.

PACBI’s appeal is made within the framework of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS [8], its own appeal for the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, particularly those serving the state’s propaganda efforts [9], and in accordance with the guidelines for the cultural boycott of Israel [10]. We believe that the time has come to apply pressure on Israel in the form of boycotts, divestment initiatives and sanctions, as was done successfully in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel must not be allowed to flout international law and precepts of international humanitarian law with impunity. It must be held accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Israel’s cultural ambassadors must be treated likewise.


[2] and and
[4]; emphasis added.
[6] For more on the Brand Israel campaign, see:
[7] One such organization is the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, whose mission includes “[d]epict[ing] the State of Israel as a thriving cultural environment that stimulates creativity and artistic life.” See . The organization takes credit for having supported and promoted all major cultural institutions in Israel, such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Museum. See:

Posted on 16-01-2011

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