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PACBI-Boycott the 26th Red Sea Jazz Festival

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14 July 2012

Boycott the 26th Red Sea Jazz Festival

Occupied Ramallah, 14 July 2012
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urges Jazz performers and fans to boycott the 26th Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat running from July 30th to August 2nd, 2012. PACBI believes that this festival, as with similar cultural initiatives supported by Israeli state institutions, is designed to whitewash the crimes of Israeli apartheid. The festival boasts on its website sponsorship by a score of Israeli official organisations, including the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Municipality, amongst others. [1]
As performers congregate in Eilat to enjoy “Israel’s southern paradise getaway [that] provides a perfect setting for a unique experience of romantic beaches, fine dinning and generous hospitality” [2], only a few kilometres away, the Gaza Strip faces electricity cuts and a suffocating economic siege; the West Bank remains under military occupation and intensifying colonization; occupied Jerusalem as well as the Naqab (Negev) are facing gradual ethnic cleansing, and the construction of the illegal apartheid wall is near completion.
The policy of using culture to whitewash Israeli violations of international law was openly confirmed by the Israeli government with the launch of a global 'Brand Israel’ campaign. According to an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the objective of this rebranding campaign, which "could include organizing film festivals," is to convey the message that "a better image for Israel and a better performance of that image is part and parcel [of] Israel’s national security. Contrary to popular belief, national security is not just based on military power, it’s also a strong economy and a strong image" [3]. This language reveals – as did similar endeavours by the South African Apartheid regime – a cynical and systematic attempt at manipulating world opinion. It aims to obfuscate the real nature of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid and to divert attention from its ongoing war crimes by portraying it as a vibrant, cultural and artistic hub.
PACBI takes the opportunity to reiterate the call to Jazz performers, artists and cultural workers for a boycott of all cultural initiatives that have sponsorship from Israeli state organs or institutions, whether the events take place in Israel or abroad. [4]  The boycott also extends to any brand-Israel effort or organization because their aim is to help the state’s propaganda or “rebranding” efforts aimed at diluting, justifying, whitewashing or otherwise diverting attention from the Israeli occupation and other violations of Palestinian rights and international law.  
There is precedent for a boycott of another cultural festival in Israel, the Haifa International Film Festival, where on August 1st 2006, the administrative council of the Greek Cinematography Center (GCC) decided to withdraw all the Greek films from HIFF, arguing that "under the current circumstances the specific cultural event has lost its meaning". Also, Ken Loach announced in 2006 that he would not take part in the "Haifa Film Festival or any other such occasions," as an acknowledgment of the fact that "Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after forty years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians." [5]
With Israel's continued disregard for international law and the basic rights of the Palestinian people, the kind of solidarity we expect from people of conscience around the world is to heed the Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions, as they did in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.


Posted on 14-07-2012

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