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[Boycott - Cultural]
Alert: 24th April 2015 - Protest Israel's Cultural Ambassadors - Jerusalem Quartet's London Performance
21 April 2015
DATE: Friday 24th April 2015, 6:30pm-8pm
LOCATION: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/817361055019851/
21th April 2015, www.inminds.com
Please join us on 24th April as we protest the performance of Israel's cultural ambassadors the Jerusalem Quartet at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank in London on 24th April 2015.
Arts and culture have become an important weapon in the Israeli government’s public relations campaign. The Israeli Foreign Ministry's Deputy Director General Nissim Ben-Sheetrit announced in 2005 that "We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture", and in 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an multi-million dollar initiative called “Brand Israel,” whereby culture is used to whitewash an apartheid state founded on the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and occupation of their land. Arye Mekel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry explained “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits… This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”
In 2008, Israeli poet Yitzhak Laor explained the contacts Israeli artists going abroad with foreign Ministry funding have to sign includes a 'Brand Israel' clause that [the artist] "is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interest of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel" furthermore it stipulates that this relationship must remain secret.
The Jerusalem Quartet are a leading part of this 'Brand Israel' project and as such are cultural ambassadors for an apartheid state. They have consistently taken funding from Israeli Embassies and represented the Israeli state at performances. In 2007 they performed at the Library of Congress for the Israel Ambassador who introduced them with a speech of how Israel is under attack from all sides and yet Israel still make beautiful music. In January 2015 they played for the Israeli embassy in Croatia at an Israeli state sponsored event. JQ Cellist Kyril Zlotnikov told The Australian (14th March 2006), ”People say we are the best ambassadors from Israel, and we are happy about that.” In Sept 2008 when the JQ was protested at the Edinburgh festival Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UK, confirmed JQ's role in marketing 'Brand Israel', by saying: "We must not give in to the attempts to sabotage the marketing of Israeli art and culture in Britain.."
The Jerusalem Quartet also has very close links to the Israel military. “The four members of the Quartet joined the Israeli Defense Forces in March 1997 and are serving as Distinguished Musicians.” An article by the World Zionist Press Service in 1998, entitled “Israeli musicians also have military strings attached”, described how since completing their military service: “The Quartet now serves as Distinguished Musicians, performing for troops three times a week. … For the three immigrants, carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement. ‘It’s something our parents could hardly have imagined ten years ago,’ says Zlotnikov”.
Palestinian artists and musicians are routinely prevented from studying, rehearsing and performing by an illegal occupation. In 2008, the Gaza Music School, which was located in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society building in Gaza City, was targeted by Israel and destroyed. In June 2012 the Ramallah Orchestra was to perform a free concert at Saint Anne Church in Palestinian East Jerusalem, organized with the assistance of the French Consulate, but the event had to be cancelled after Israel refused to allow the musicians to cross the military checkpoint.
No, this is not the Warsaw Ghetto, this is not Nazi soldiers humiliating a Jewish musician, this is an Israeli checkpoint with Israeli soldiers humiliating a Palestinian music student Wissam Tayem, forcing him to perform a violin recital in order to cross their checkpoint.
The Jerusalem Quartet’s willingness to be ‘poster boys’ for the Israeli state has led to its being identified as one of the targets of a Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. This campaign, modelled on the boycott movement which helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, regards cultural institutions such as the Quartet as complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. We ask you to respect the Palestinian call and boycott the Jerusalem Quartet until apartheid Israel ends and Palestine is free.
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Boycott Israel Campaign