To the organizers of Almada Festival: Please do not endorse Israeli policies, take a stand for justice and equality
We are Israeli citizens, opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people . Knowing Israeli society as we do, makes it clear that the most effective way to stop the apartheid system here is to put pressure on Israel from outside. Therefore, we strongly support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), aimed at ending the apartheid regime by means of a nonviolent strategy .
We write to protest the participation of the Israeli Kamea dance company in your festival. More importantly we ask that you do not continue to cross the picket line of the Palestinian call for BDS and do not cooperate with the Israeli embassy on future events. At times such as these, when Israeli policies of displacement are inflaming the region, it is immoral to endorse its policies by including its complicit cultural institutions.
The Kamea Dance Company, which you collaborate with, are the official ambassadors of the city of Beersheva, located in the Negev, where Israel is systematically expelling Bedouins from their homes. In fact, the Municipality of Beersheba is so racist that Mayor Rubik Danilovich asked a bust company to remove announcements in Arabic on its buses (3). Furthermore, Kamea gets sponsorship from the Israeli government, which preserves a constant state of occupation and apartheid upon the Palestinian people. We would also like to remind you that one of the co-organisers of the festival is the municipality of the city of Almada, which has been communist for 40 years with strong support for Palestinian rights.
The Israeli government explicitly uses culture and dance as a propaganda tool, while subjecting Palestinian artists to severe violations of human rights. Note, for instance, circus performer Muhammad Abu Sakha, who has been detained in administrative detention without charge or trial (4), or Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet, who has been under house arrest for simply publishing a poem (5).
Israel relies almost completely on its public image, while using art as a tool to brand itself as a “cool” and cultured place (6), aiming to encourage international complicity for its ongoing human rights violations.
The only way for international human rights-oriented people to enlighten Israeli society about the need to end Israel's apartheid and occupation is by cultural figures taking a stand against oppression. It should be noted that the cultural boycott of Israel is institutional, and is not meant to censure or target individuals, or art as a whole, but to target complicit institutions like Kamea, which use sponsorship from a government
As Israeli citizens, we call on you to take a stand for justice and equality. Forty years ago, festival organizers all over the world stood with South Africans struggling against apartheid, and endorsed the BDS campaign at the time. Now, more than ever, international organizers of art and culture events are morally obligated to stand with the oppressed Palestinian people and help bring about an end to Israel’s policies of racism, occupation, and apartheid.
Therefore, we urge the Almada Festival not to cooperate with Israel’s Kamea Dance Company in the future. We also call on all Portuguese art and culture institutions to end all collaborations with complicit Israeli events, ensembles, and institutions.
We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within