Dear Cecile Caillou-Robert, general commissioner of the french Institute,
We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people. We write to you, asking that you respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, specifically its cultural aspect, and cancel the Saison France Israel 2018 events sponsored by the French institute. Please hear us out.
Because you wish to highlight Israel’s cultural, scientific, and educational innovations, it seems proper to focus on Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people, including its own Palestinian citizens. But before we do, it’s important for us to emphasize that Israel’s daily, systematic violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories has been assessed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to amount to apartheid.
Palestinian citizens of Israel- over 20% of Israelis- are subject to a system of over 60 discriminative laws, decades-long processes of systematic, de-development, gentrification, ghettoisation, and impoverishment that results in an infant mortality rate three times higher than Israel’s Jewish citizens. Persecution of Palestinian political parties, parliamentarians, and public servants, escalates, while Israeli-Jewish politicians and public figures continue their unabated incitement genocide to against the indigenous Palestinian minority, with brutal results often meted out by Israeli civilians as well as armed forces.
Israel attempts to cover its systematic human, civil, and indigenous rights violations, with a veneer of democracy, by promoting itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.
In your website you put an emphasis on Israeli culture, innovation, sciences, and education, while Israel itself is constantly destroying exactly those things in the lives of the indigenous Palestinian people. The criminalizing and defamation of Palestinian artists, and the closing down of Palestinian cultural institutions, such as theatres, are clear attempts by Israel to erase Palestinian culture and identity from the public sphere, and to instill fear in those who attempt to be the keepers and innovators of indigenous culture and heritage.
Palestinian poet, Dareen Tatour, has been persecuted and held under house arrest for two years, simply for writing a poem. Her trial is still ongoing. Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, has joined a line of indigenous musicians being persecuted by Israel. Miri Regev, Israel’s minister of culture, targets him directly, aiming to silence him by canceling his performances in Israel, and violent protests were held outside his concerts, again, as a mean of silencing him. When it comes to Palestinian theatres, right wing politicians are in the process of closing several of them down, just like al-Midan Theatre in Haifa, the only Arabic theatre in Israel that receives state funding. In addition, Israel has ordered the cancellation of a children’s puppet festival in el-Hakawati Theatre in East Jerusalem, claiming that the even has been unlawfully sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.
In the obstruction of Palestinian sciences, Israel has imprisoned Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Barghouti from the West Bank twice, for posts he wrote on facebook. In the education field, Israel demolishes and destroys Palestinian schools in the West Bank, some that were built by the EU using French taxpayers’ money or various European NGOs. Also, Israel targets student activists who engage in political activism against the occupation.
We ask the French organizers of the Saison France Israel 2018 not to let the Israeli government use your promotion of culture, science and education to whitewash the crimes of Israel’s apartheid. Your event aims to build “the world of tomorrow” while for millions of indigenous Palestinians there is no tomorrow. Please uphold your good reputation and cancel your sponsorship of these events.
We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within