The Palestinian Performing Arts Network (PPAN), organisations and individuals that represent the majority of the Palestinian cultural sector, call on Oscar nominees to reject the trip sponsored by the Israeli government included in this year’s Academy gift bag.
This is yet another cynical attempt of the Israeli government to use influential cultural figures to whitewash its persistent human rights abuses and denial of freedom to Palestinians. We urge you to distance yourselves from Israel’s official state propaganda efforts while it denies not only the right to life of Palestinians but also our right to artistic expression and any semblance of a normal life through a violent, decades-long regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
We condemn the Academy awards for giving a platform for the Israeli government to bribe Oscar nominees with this trip. We see this as an extension to its overt discrimination against black artists and their deep-rooted exclusion from the Academy and wider discrimination in society. We stand in solidarity with our allies in the #OscarsSoWhite campaign and identify with their demands as Palestinians also grapple daily with Israel’s dehumanisation, denial of human rights and racial exclusion.
Israel wants to present itself as a normal tourist destination and a liberal democracy when in fact it rules over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians under military occupation, siege and discriminatory laws. No amount of whitewashing can make Israel’s oppression palatable to an increasingly vocal public opinion, including a growing number of celebrities willing to speak out.
As part of its attacks on Palestinians, Israel deliberately attacks Palestinian art and cultural production. For example, Israel banned in 2009 all displays of culture connected to Jerusalem as the Arab League and UNESCO designated Capital of Arab Culture. Palestinian circus performer Mohamed Abu Sakha is currently imprisoned by Israel with no charge, detained as he was on his way to work. Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev is notorious for her fanatic racism against Palestinians and calling black asylum-seekers in Israel a “cancer.” Israel’s culture ministry is leading the war against dissent in Israel, chiefly by Palestinians who seek to have their rights and equality recognised.
Israel publicly celebrates visits by international artists as a sign of support for its policies and a breach in its growing international isolation. For example, when Alicia Keys violated the boycott and performed in Tel Aviv in 2013, her visit was proudly tweeted at least eight times by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Any Israeli-government sponsored visit by an Oscar nominee would be portrayed as a sign of support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
Palestinian artists call on Hollywood figures to act with conscience by refusing Israel’s ongoing attempts to legitimise its violations of international law and war crimes against the Palestinian people.
We call upon our fellow artists and cultural organisations to condemn this partnership between the Academy Awards and the Israeli government and urge Oscar nominees to reject Israel’s cynical whitewash attempts.
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