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MITA'AM - A Review of Literature and Radical Thought, Edited by Yitzhak Laor


STEEPED : In The World of Tea. A Literay anthology



Re: Boycott all Israeli Art Iinstitutions, End the Occupation

Responses and comments from ustura films, David Goss, Matt Kohn, Jack Jansen, Angelika Middendorf, Emily Jacir, Raed Andoni, Dana Levy, and Oz shelach. Thanks to John Menick and the 16 Beaver group list, for collection and circulation.

26 Apr. 2002

ustura films wrote:

what is to be said of institutions doing joint art/media programmes with the Israelis?

David Goss wrote:

Dear Oz, Emily and Anton.

I am writing to you concerning the boycott proposition of Israeli Art institutions and of exhibitions and cultural events in Israel.

The proposition as put forward can be divided into three parts:

1) Boycott of Israeli Art institutions and of exhibitions and cultural events in Israel.

2) Support for Israeli Artists who are active against the occupation.

3) A political statement denouncing the inhumane Israeli occupation of Palestine.

As an Artist living and working in Israel I fully endorse the third part of the appeal: the denouncation of the occupation and all its violent incursions on human rights. That said, I think a boycott might have deeper negative implications in the long run, ultimately imposing on a positive Art debate in Israel about Israeli policies.

The boycott of the Apartheid regime in South Africa (which anyway censored all artistic activity) left within no artistic debate about its racialism. Even with all the current maladies of the Israeli art world and its institutes - attempting to canonize a local, Jewish-Ashkenazi, secular, western oriented, art history, a canon that excludes any artists who differ by definition, subject, question, or raise doubt and do not fit this 'National' objective - Israel still allows a margin for an open and critical art discourse, enabling incompliant art activities to exist, sometimes even within these institutes.

This margin must be used and widened. A general boycott will cause more harm than good, therefore it is crucial to check each activity per se. We should judge each Art work, each artist and each institute by their moral standing.

Closing a debate completely or turning it into a neutral or one sided presentation has been the object of Fundamentalist, Conservative and Fascist regimes throughout history.

A boycott of this kind may leave the artistic debate in Israel only in the hands of 'neutral entertainers' who in their neutrality endorse the Israeli policies or worse. It would abandon the space to pro-Zionist artists who will increase their artistic influence in pampering public opinion.

Artists that have no political stance and who would ignore the boycott anyway, would carry on their activity, leaving the feeling of business as usual, and in actuality endorse the current situation.

Concerning the support for Israeli artists who are against the occupation, I have some reservations as well. First, one must distinguish between the different art fields in their relation to political issues. A generalization of all 'arts' will damage areas that do have an active political debate, such as the 'plastic arts'. Be specific in what areas of art, and in what way is the issue of the occupation dealt with.

It is important to support artists by enabling them to show their work and by creating a public debate. Create an international debate about art that is practiced in Israel with all the political consequences.

But, naming artists in lists, or indirectly creating a political artistic criteria will create a shallow and predictable art debate. This will only affect the epidermis of the Israeli cultural discourse, leaving the core negative practices immune and unchanged.

Israeli artists who do take a political stand will be left alone without any international backing or dialogue in the internal debate.

Rather than start a boycott, initiate political art activities in and about Israel. Artists that would support the boycott would usually have a political standing in their work. Let them come, participate, speak out and stir up a debate even in the art institutes. Keep the debate open, international and alive.

Let the international art world speak out, stir up a debate while it is still possible. In Israel as well as anywhere else.

Help outspoken Israeli art and artists be seen and heard.

Make all Israeli artists and art institutes face the political issues when in or out of Israel.

Turn these issues into the touchstone of Israeli art. The Israeli public must deal with the consequences of its own government's policies, internally and externally.

Let art and artists always be open to debate and scrutiny. Often bad art can arouse an excellent debate, and not all art under political pretexts and titles is of great artistic interest, nor is it always capable of changing our attitude and way of looking at reality. One could even say that political art that follows a constant and premeditated outlook may stagnate the art discourse.

David Goss
Tel Aviv.

Matt -- Re: boycott

I have to say that I think that the boycott of any arts institution not directly involved in specific propaganda exercises on behalf of a government is wrong in and of itself. The arts are sometimes the only source of differing opinions in a society under stress. Artists are individuals with individual opinions. They may even agree with you. Parallel boycotts of arts organizations in the United States because of say, the war in Afghanistan, is not really something you would recommend, and with good reason. I would not endorse this boycott and I never will endorse a boycott of artists.

Matt Kohn

Before people sign this petition it might be a good idea to check how widespread support for it is under Palestinian artists. As of 2 months ago some of the mixed Palestinian/Israeli festivals and other art initiatives were still going strong. This may well have changed in the last few weeks (and/or those initiatives may be part of this boycott petition), but it would be a shame to boycott one of the last cooperative efforts out of existence.- -

Jack Jansen <> - -

If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution -- Emma Goldman -

Angelik -- COMMENT ON BOYCOTT Appeal

angelika middendorf berlin, april 17, 2002

dear friends,

i agree in most appeals, which you've listed. but, i do not agree and cannot sign your appeal: BOYCOTT OF ALL ISRAELI ART INSTITUTIONS, because i don't see the logical consequence, that this would help to END THE OCCUPATION. that would mean to me, to support a cultural isolation at all, with the result? let me get back to one special activity, which you've also mentioned as a supportive one: the bus tour of the international delegation of nobel price holders was such an important step for both sides, because an international voice was created for the palestinian people even an international discussion was enforced by this! but a boycott of Israeli art institutions would mean, to freeze any other language than that of guns, tanks, bombings. but, let me underline following: i see an urge to raise the international voice, that both sides have to stop immediately: the isralian occupation and! the palestinian bombing attacks are to be stopped!

let me describe my position in following: for me, it was so important to hear Prof.Dr. Sumaya Farhat-Nasar, who is a peace activist from palestine, when she stated: "that the only chance to solving the current spiral of violence between the palestinian and israelian people is, that both have to find a way to accepting and respecting each other, because both are living in the same country, both own the land. the people have to have the same rights on the basis of two equal states, to provide a peaceful future, freedom, education, respect... in Palestine and Israel. after the step is made - to respecting their neighbours - the following should bring the people together, to make a dialogue possible and to learn from each other, from the rich cultural heritage each of us has". she also said, that "the biggest and most complicated current problem is, to create new hope and new visions for the people, where both - the palestians and the israelis - parties can trust in." but, for instance, currently she is so sad to see, how many young women (who were among the participants in her seminars to create an understanding in the israeli culture, and to support a dialogue) gave up their hope and joined the terrorists, which is dangerously understood to becoming a martyr for freedom of the future state palestine." of course she can see, "that too many Palestine's lost everything even they lost the hope to solve the situation under siege without violence."

but, what a horror: to create a key to freedom with human suicide-bombs! this suicide-bombing attacks is such an alarming sign, under which level of existence a society has fallen. it is more than alarming, how important an international diplomatic intervention is needed to save the people, evenmore to provide a supportive concept to rebuild the infrastructure, which is necessary to operate in terms of politics, culture, education ... at least, anything which is necessary to support a state palestine.

what is also very alarming, that all the peace-contracts where answered with terror. it is obvious, that the israeli people are traumatized by all this terror attacks. it is not a political weapon at all, it is the worst form of disrespect against the basic human rights. i really wonder, how big is the respect for humans, the own life of the "ready to suicide ones", who take innocent people with them straight to death? how can the israeli trust arafat, if he says, that he will stop the bombing attacks but they are still continuing? is a whole generation just raised to end up as living bombs? how strong is the majority behind arafat, to support a dialogue? when i was in israel last may for novalog, a cultural exchange project between media artists from berlin and tel aviv, (and aside from a valuable experience and dialogue between the artists), i experienced the first time what it means in fact, to be surrounded from an atmosphere of aggression, to feel a permanent stress that any moment and everywhere it could be the end, either in the bus, cafe, club, in the streets, anywhere. i experienced what does the weapon of permanent fear in fact mean: psychoterror! and what effect it has on the people, is obviously not a constructive one which supports an understanding. it is a very destructive level!

what i miss in your resolution is the very urgent appeal to the palestinians to stop immediately the self-bombing attacks. it is not a political sign at all, this is murder to innocent israelian people! it leads to nowhere, just pushing the spiral of horror one more time.

i would deeply appreciate for a more constructive appeal, to modify your headline. why to boycott israeli art institutions? it seems to be important to mention, there are no israelian art institutions at all, to be boycotted! especially in this times, while we see us confronted with such difficult and complicated situation, we as artists should take this small number of possibilities we have, to push an international dialogue! that means, the dialogue with israelian artists is to be supported and continued, but as well with the palestinian artists!!! aren't both voices needed and valuable to be heard?

for all this reasons i would deeply appreciate to find following appeals included to your (modified) Appeal:





currently i deeply hope, that the international diplomatic intervention will lead very soon to a longsighted solution and future concept, but it will be only possible through a peaceful support of all palestinian and israelian people living in the country and all the internationals ouside, to support the goverment of Palestine and Israel and to construct the future for both states!

take care and all the best!


Emily -- Re: Comments ON BOYCOTT Appeal...

Here are 2 resposes to Anjelicas e-mail: from Emily in Ramallah

We, a Palestinian and an Israeli who called for this appeal, as well as we Israelis and Palestinians who signed the appeal have found a way to "respect and accept each other" and that is through justice and basic human rights.

Your e-mail makes very clear not only your ignorance of the current crises but also your lack of knowledge on the relationships we Palestinians and Israelis have with each other.

When you were in Israel last May, not only were you completely isolated from any contact with any Palestinian artists or arts institutions, you were engaged only in dialogue with one side. You did not even visit a single Palestinian city. Did you ever even think why?

Do you know that currently there are peace activists from all over the world most notably Italy, France, Sweden, Belgium and America who are being denied entry into the country??? Why? Because they truly beleive in peace and non-violence. What kind of a country denies entry to International people from all over the world who are peace activists? Do you understand how very dangerous this is? Not allowing Internationals to see for themselves what is happening? You should ask yourself what are they hiding?

On another note - the Palestinains have been BEGGING for International observers and an International protection force to come here and help. All the world agrees that this is a necessity but this will not happen because Israel does not agree. Why would anyone not allow in United Nations International Observers unless they were hiding something? And the USA is going to veto it so we are stuck here with no protection, nothing from Sharon's killing fields.

Do you know what its like not to be allowed out of your home for 20 days straight? To watch your child get killed because they were peeking out the window? To watch your home being demolished? to have your dead family memebers rotting inside your living room next to you while the Israelis will not allow any medical access or humanitarian aid to reach you? To watch Israeli soldiers kill people when they lift the curfew? to have soldiers enter your home destroy everything and steal all your money and jewelry? To be under constant bombardment by F-16's, Apache gun ships, tanks and machine guns? To be killed going to work? crossing a checkpoint? Having absolutely no accesss to food, water or medical care? To watch people being crushed under the rubble of buildings being bombed indiscriminatly?? to listen to the Red Cross beg the Israelis to let them save 45 people trapped under the rubble of Jenin.... who have been asking for help for over a week now with no food or water.....and the ISraelis still say no? while at the same time denying the massacre of innocent women and children??

Do you understand the magnitude of the current crises? Are you not following any news? Have you not heard that Israel is NOT allowing any human rights groups, or any humanitarian aid into the West Bank. That they have enforced a media black-out? That they are arresting and shooting journalists? That massacres are occuring all over the place? that Israel is in violation of humanitarian law, international law and the Geneva convention?And as far as the art world is concerned, do you know that all the Palestinian arts galleries and institutions as well as educational centers are being right now systematically destroyed in every city on the West Bank? That all our records are being burnt?

I seriously hope that you and others like you, will support us Palestinians and Israelis, living in the country and out, and all the internationals outside in our cry for help and solidarity during this time of ethnic cleansing and that history will not repeat itself.

take care and all the best!


Raed -- Re: Comments ON BOYCOTT Appeal...

From Raed Andoni - filmmaker in Bethlehem

Dear Angelica

I just but the phone now, after a long conversation with Avi Mugrabi,
an Israeli filmmaker, to find your letter.

For all the last 19 days and I am living inside few rooms under the curfew Of the new/old occupiers of my town Bethlehem, for all that 19 day, I used to have a daily long conversation with Avi, why not? I have a lot of time to do, and he feels good to discuss things from inside and to know more.

Any how I do not feel I have to explain more for you, what is the deep real mean of living under curfew, also no need to explain for you what Occupation means, or how people has been killed inside their houses around etc. I just want to tell you, even AVI him self as an Israeli, feel a shame to tell me what you wrote in your naïve letter.

You experienced Tel Aviv's atmosphere during May!! You are invited to experience one hour inside my town now, or why didn't you experienced to pass just one Israeli checkpoint out of 270 ones which block our roads for the last 20 months.

Israel occupied us, Angelica

Palestinians tried the peace process for more than 10 years, we got nothing but more suffer and discrimination, do you know why? Because the Israeli mentality didn't changed at all, it is the same colonial occupier's mentality, either during the years of our suffering under military occupation or our years of suffer during peace talks.

Just go back to the history and find how people get their freedom. And please think for one moment why that a 19 years old girl turned to be a suicide bomber, do you think for fun out of that? Just let them leave here one thing or one hope to live for, she or he will not be.

All the best and take care



Angelika/John -- Open Call for emergency exhibition
> ----------
> From: Dana Levy <>
> Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 16:38:29 +0200
> To: Galit Eilat_xs4all <>
> Subject: call for
> the digital artlab
> an Israeli art center for new media is in the process of putting together
> an emergency exhibition showing the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which will also get main Israeli newspaper > coverage.
> If you can contribute Photographs, witnesses texts, video footage etc
> please contact
> or
> pass this message on to anyone who you think can help.
> Thank you for your cooperation.
> Dana
> # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
> # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
> # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> # more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
> # archive: contact:


Oz -- Update on Boycott


following the benefit photos link are 4 updates related to the appeal for a boycott on israeli art institutions.all the promised artists participated in the benefit performance tonight at the Knitting Factory. i have to admit i cannot put a name to every picture, but i think i did get a picture of each performer, and that i'll have all the names soon. photos are already up at art/020421.html .

with so many images, it may take a while to load.

1. endorsements to the appeal to boycott israeli art institutions keep flowing in. 175 artists from australia, austria, belgium, canada, egypt, france, germany, india, italy, the netherlands, palestine, sweden, switzerland, the u.k., and the u.s. are already confirmed and posted at petitions/020407.html

2. Doc-Aviv documentary film festival became a center of attention twice this week. first when palestinian filmmaker Georges Khlifei resigned from his position as a judge in the film contest. Khlifei actually intended to participate, but having come to tel-aviv after 17 days under siege in ramallah, and having learned about the character of the festival, and that minister of culture Matan Vilnai was to open it... he submitted a letter of resignation, criticizing the occupation in very clear words. i hope i'll have a copy of this letter for ya'll soon.

3. then it became known that swedish director Peter Torbiornsson, whose film, The Lovers of San Fernando, participated in the festival's international contest, wishes to withdraw his film from the festival for political reasons. According to Haaretz, festival management told Torbiornsson he couldn't. Torbiornsson then submitted his own letter to the festival, berating the israeli government for its occupation policy, and calling for peace. he demanded the letter be read before each screening of his film. festival management accepted his request, but kept its promise for two screenings only. before the 3rd screening it got warning from sponsors. Mif'al Hapayis, israeli state lottery, withdrew the big 75,000 shekel contest prize. two other sponsors, israeli 2nd authority for television and radio, and satelite tv channel Yes, said they were reconsidering their sponsorship.

at that stage festival management gave in, and cancelled the 3rd screening planned for Torbiornsson's film.

4. many israeli artists support peace, but IUPA, the union of israeli performing artists, has cancelled a gala concert in honor of singer Yafa Yarkoni, planned for 29 april. why??? because Yarkoni, one of the older pillars of this community, and a holder of the state's highest civil mark of honor, the israel prize, spoke out. in an interview to the army radio, Yarkoni said expressed support for the refuseniks, and horror at the government's policy in the occupied territories. singer Hanan Yovel, IUPA chair, found her criticism even more horrifying, and called the concert off.the following links have more details on this. i'm afraid they are in hebrew only, and most mac users can't read them (the Khlifei story was reported on Haaretz in hebrew, but was not selected for the english edition, which is not at all surprising):,7340,L-1846529,00.html,7340,L-1846949,00.html,7340,L-1842229,00.html

yalla bye.