OUT OF TUNE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS: BOYCOTT THE ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA AT THE BBC PROMS
Join the picket outside the Royal Albert Hall in London
(Near the main entrance and box office)
On Thursday 1st September 6-8pm.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103335633104718
Call from PACBI: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1670
Out of Tune with Human Rights – BBC Proms: Cancel Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Invitation
We, Palestinian cultural institutions, including the leading musical organizations, urge the BBC to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) concert at this year’s Proms , due to IPO’s complicity in whitewashing Israel’s persistent violations of international law and human rights. The IPO is scheduled to perform in September in London. Should the BBC fail to cancel this ill-conceived concert, we urge all people of conscience in the UK and especially those who stand for justice, freedom, equality and human rights to effectively protest this event, including by promoting a wide boycott of it, and by tapping into the impressive creative energies British supporters of Palestinian rights have always shown.
The IPO is one of the flagship institutions of the Israeli state, tracing its history to the 1930’s under the British Mandate. The IPO Foundation describes the orchestra as “Israel’s musical ambassador,”  while the American Friends of the IPO has this to say about it:
Often said to have more heart than other orchestras, the IPO is Israel’s finest cultural emissary and travels throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. In some cases, performances of the IPO are the only example of Israel’s existence. The goodwill created by these tours, which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China and India, is of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene. 
As befits an institution that identifies with the Israeli state and openly serves Israel’s interests, despite its occupation and apartheid and decades-old denial of Palestinian rights, the IPO proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts .
In this way, the orchestra has lent itself to the official Israeli propaganda campaign titled Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements. Moreover, during the 1948 Nakba, the IPO made it a mission to entertain Israeli soldiers  who were busy ethnically cleansing Palestinians, committing massacres and systematically demolishing hundreds of Palestinian villages to prevent the refugees’ return. The IPO also entertained Israeli troops in 1967 , right after Israel’s war of aggression against the Palestinians and Arab states and its occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
Given the orchestra’s strong association with the Israeli state and other Zionist organizations involved in “brand-Israel” activities , we call upon all Palestine solidarity activists in the United Kingdom to organize activities to protest and boycott the orchestra’s concerts. As long as it continues to partner with the state in whitewashing war crimes and international law violations, the Israeli cultural establishment cannot expect to be exempted from the growing boycott movement.
This appeal is made within the framework of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) , and the call for the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) , and in accordance with the guidelines for the cultural boycott of Israel , which an overwhelming majority of Palestinian cultural and artistic institutions have endorsed.
We believe that the time has come to apply pressure on Israel in the form of boycotts, divestment initiatives and sanctions, as was done successfully in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel must not be allowed to flout international law and precepts of international humanitarian law with impunity. Israel’s cultural ambassadors play a pivotal role in covering up Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people; they must be held accountable for their shameless complicity.
- Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
- General Union for Palestinian Writers
- Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
- Al Kamandjati Association
- The Palestinian House of Poetry
- Yabous Cultural Center, Jerusalem
- Palestinian Women Research and Documentation Centre
- The Popular Art Centre
- The Palestinian Forum for Culture and Media – Paris
- Sanabel Theater – Jerusalem
- Theatre Day Productions
- World Association of Writers – Palestine center
- Al-Harah Theater
- Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art (PACA)
- Al-Kasaba Theatre and Cinemateque
Similarly, in October 2010 the Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked the Cape Town Opera not to travel to Israel. His argument was based on his firm belief in human rights and equality. He wrote,
“Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel.
“Cape Town Opera should postpone its proposed tour next month until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances.
“Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village 30 minutes from Tel Aviv, who would not be allowed to travel to Tel Aviv, while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory.”
From the press release:
…the university administration’s attempts to muzzle the long list of divestment campaign endorsers – including over 2,000 letter and petition signatories, both the undergraduate and graduate students associations, and more than 25 student clubs, academic workers’ unions and university service centres – deeply backfired. During one of the busiest academic weeks of the year, more than 400 divestment supporters rallied at every entrance of the building to challenge the illegitimate decision-making process, and to voice a united message: “Board of Governors, we won’t rest, we won’t rest til you divest!” In an inspiring show of solidarity, students and their allies engaged in a diversity of creative protest tactics, ranging from sit-ins to salsa and dabke dance-offs for divestment, successfully blocking several BOG members from entering the meeting. Eventually, the highly mobilized and energetic crowd became too much for the BOG to ignore, and they announced to the crowd that they had cancelled the meeting. The BOG members who had literally walked over students to go upstairs to the meeting then exited the building through a ‘walk of shame’ created by the crowd of cheerful protestors. (Students Against Israeli Apartheid, Carleton)
Boycott from Within is a group of Israeli citizens that supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The AIC sat down with Israeli activist Ofer Neiman to discuss the Boycott from Within movement, its goals and what impact he thinks it will have on ending the Israeli occupation.
At its annual meeting in Dundee this week, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed and deepened its commitment to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The STUC confirmed its participation with the South African and Irish Trade Union Congresses, and many individual trades unions around the world in building support for the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS.
The complete absence of any pro-Israel presence, lobbying or intervention from delegates was striking. In previous years US diplomats have intervened in the deliberations of Congress to lobby behind the scenes against motions from Midlothian Trade Union Council calling for BDS and a severing of links with the Israeli pseudo-trade union, the Histadrut. Whereas the recent BDS Conference in Dublin called by the Irish CTU was stunned by a self-incriminating presentation from Histadrut spokesperson Avital Shapira-Shabirow, Trade Union Friends of Israel/Histadrut, defenders of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, stayed away from the STUC Congress.
Jim Malone, FBU Regional Organiser who moved the main BDS motion to Congress, welcomed the unanimous decision by the STUC to pass the composite motion on Palestine as “a clear message of support to the Palestinian people” and said that “in condemning the Histadrut for its collusion in the continued oppression and dehumanisation process by the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, the STUC have shown the lead and look set to break its link with the government sponsored Histadrut.”
The motion also called on the STUC General Council to investigate “the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity”. Mike Arnott of Dundee Trade Union Council, who seconded the BDS motion, writes:
“The final day, Wednesday, of the STUC Congress in Dundee proved a moving and positive one for the issue of support for Palestine. Just before lunchtime a composite motion moved by the Fire Brigades Union and seconded by Dundee Trade Union Council called on the STUC to step up their pressure on the Israeli Histadrut and the Jewish National Fund, which was unanimously supported. Congress also unanimously supported an accompanying statement from the STUC General Council which committed the STUC to take a position on recognition of the Histadrut by November of this year.“Then an SPSC fringe meeting addressed by Jim Malone of the FBU and Yasmin Khan of War on Want was transfixed by a contribution, by live phone link, from Jamal Juma of Stop the Wall. Immediately after lunch an emergency motion from Dundee TUC condemning next week’s exhibition at Holyrood [Scottish Parliament] was unanimously adopted. Building on the STUC’s groundbreaking work on BDS it was inspiring to be a part of today’s events. Jamal Juma’s contribution both humbled all that were at the meeting and inspired us all to greater efforts on behalf of the people of Palestine.”
At the same meeting Phil McGarry of the Scottish Region of RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) called on Scottish and other trade unionists to take the initiative in support of the Palestinians, and not to wait for developments elsewhere.
This year’s advances build on previous work. Liz Elkind said after the Congress:
“As a former member of the STUC General Council and a member of the STUC’s delegation in 2009 to meet Israeli and Palestinian trade unions, I am pleased that this year’s annual congress reaffirmed its commitment to the BDS campaign. Israel’s trade union centre, Histadrut, must be called to account for its complicity in the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.” (Liz Elkind is also a member of Scottish Jews for Just Peace.)
The STUC resolutions follow similar progress in the Irish CTU. It should also be seen in the context of a damning criticism of Israel’s criminality by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who said that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in”. It also comes on the heels of a landmark ruling by a Scottish Court that opposition to Israel’s ethnic cleansing has nothing in common with anti-Semitism. Even before Israel’s most recent massacres in Gaza, a majority of the members of the present Scottish Government Cabinet had publicly signed up to “an important message to the Palestinian people expressing Scotland’s disgust at their treatment at the hands of the Israeli Government.”
Accompanying the main motion, a statement on behalf of the STUC General Council announced the opening of the final period of consultation on the role of the Histadrut. Resolutions, however, are only resolutions. Scottish PSC and the broad movement of support in Scotland for Palestinian freedom needs to work during the next five months to develop awareness and commitment among the members of individual Scottish trade unions.
To help in this, the STUC has produced a BDS campaign pack for members and we need to help distribute these to branches and individual trade union members. The SPSC factsheet series also covers the Histadrut and the JNF; they all need to get the widest distribution among trade union activists and members.
We urge trade union and civil society organisations, wherever they may be, in Palestine, around the world, and in Israel, to submit documents to the Scottish TUC General Council explaining why the Histadrut and the JNF are key institutions in the Zionist programme of dispossession of the Palestinians and, thus, to be boycotted.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
“RACISM” CHARGE DROPPED AGAINST ISRAEL PROTESTORS
Five Palestine campaigners who contested the relevancy of a “racially aggravated conduct” charge in relation to their protest against Israel’s blockade of Gaza had all charges against them dropped today.
The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), had interrupted the August 2008 Edinburgh Festival concert by the Jerusalem Quartet. Tours by the classical musicians are regularly sponsored by the Israeli Government, which the campaign group claims makes them a legitimate target for protest.
The campaigners had been accused of making “comments about Jews, Israelis, and the State of Israel”, but during a three-day legal debate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, a BBC audio recording of the event revealed that there had been no reference made to “Jews”. Comments included “They are Israeli Army musicians”, “End the Siege of Gaza”, “Genocide in Gaza”, and “Boycott Israel”.
Sheriff James Scott ruled that “the comments were clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians”, and not targeted at “citizens of Israel” per se. “The procurator fiscal’s attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained”, he said.
The Sheriff expressed concern that to continue with the prosecution would have implications for freedom of expression generally: “if persons on a public march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, it would render worthless their Article 10(1) rights. Presumably their placards would have to read, ‘Genocide in an unspecified state in the Middle East’; ‘Boycott an unspecified state in the Middle East’ etc.
“Having concluded that continuation of the present prosecution is not necessary or proportionate, and therefore incompetent, it seems to me that the complaint must be dismissed.”
Mr Fraser, the Procurator Fiscal Depute, said he would be appealing the ruling.
Today’s ruling will disappoint the musicians whose concerts now attract regular protest. After a similar disruption of their Wigmore Hall concert last week they issued a statement claiming to “have no connection with or patronage by the [Israeli] Government”. However, organisers of their November 2009 Australia tour acknowledged that “The Israeli Government provided about $8000 towards the costs of the tour”, but explained, “this was only a minuscule proportion of the total cost.”
Outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court, supporters held banners reproducing the ‘racist’ slogans, and a number of enlarged concert programs indicating Israeli Embassy sponsorship of the quartet’s tours were on display.
SPSC chair, Mick Napier had mixed feelings about the ruling: “While this particular attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine has failed, British Government support for Israel continues. In England, more than 20 prison sentences – some for over 2 years – have been handed out to those who protested Israel’s massacre of 1400 mostly civilians in Gaza last year. On the subject of racism, of the 78 charged, all but two are young Muslims.
“If our case had gone to trial, it would have been Israel in the dock, not us. We had a string of witnesses from Palestine, Israel, and South Africa lined up to discuss the real racism and apartheid that Palestinians face daily. As long as the ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues, Israel’s political, cultural, and sporting ambassadors will face boycott protest similar to that faced by the racist apartheid South African regime in the last century.
“It’s time for politicians to fall into line with public opinion. Alex Salmond’s recent call for a review of trade relations with Israel is a step in the right direction, but what that means in practice remains to be seen.”
Tuesday 30th March 2010
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
JUDGEMENT DUE ON ISRAEL PROTEST
Five Palestine campaigners contesting the relevancy of a “racism” charge in relation to their protest of an Israeli string quartet will find out next week if their legal challenge has been successful.
The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), interrupted the August 2008 Edinburgh Festival concert by the Jerusalem Quartet, who the campaign group alleges are “cultural ambassadors of the State of Israel.”
They had been accused of making “comments about Jews, Israelis, and the State of Israel”, but during a three-day legal debate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, a BBC audio recording of the event revealed that there had been no mention of “Jews”. Comments included “End the Siege of Gaza”, “Boycott Israel”, and “They are Israeli Army musicians”. The quartet’s record label described the group as “Distinguished IDF” [Israeli Defence Forces].
The debate ended yesterday with the Procurator Fiscal Depute accepting that while the comments “may have reflected genuine and sincere beliefs, and did not reflect gratuitous bigotry”, “saying it once is one thing, but repeating it is an entirely different matter”. Heard together, “any reasonable person would have concluded that there was a racist element to what was said.”
Mick Napier, SPSC chair and one of the five facing the “racially aggravated conduct” charge was upbeat about the debate: “1000 ‘reasonable people’ did hear our comments, as did the quartet themselves, but none of them concluded that we were in any way racist. The prosecutor appears determined to protect Israel from legitimate criticism.”
In a recent interview however, Dr Ezra Golombok, director of the Israel Information Office in Scotland suggested that criticising Israel was indeed racist: “That criticism of Israel descends disturbingly close to antisemitic stereotype is obvious”, he said.
The judgement is expected on April 8th.
In a separate development, a live BBC broadcast of the Jerusalem Quartet had to be abandoned yesterday after groups including Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods mimicked the tactics of the Scottish campaigners by protesting inside and outside London’s prestigious Wigmore Hall. According to the Jewish Chronicle, one protestor shouted: “The Quartet, who are cultural ambassadors for the state of Israel, are promoting the interests of Israel and all its policies against the Palestinians, to the British public.” Protestors were ejected but not arrested after each of the 5 separate interruptions.
The SPSC, in conjunction with the Scottish Trades Union Congress, is mobilising for a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians when the Israeli football team, Hapoel Tel Aviv, appear in Glasgow on Wed 2 Dec for a Europa League fixture against Glasgow Celtic.The reasons for this demonstration of solidarity are as follows:
Israel attacks Palestinian sports facilities, bombed Gaza stadium.
Israel usually prevents the Palestinian team from competing:
• Before the last World Cup, Israel forced Gaza players to wait weeks at the Israeli controlled
Rafah border to join their West Bank team-mates for training – in Egypt!
• Stopped from travelling to play a World Cup qualifier in Singapore in 2007, they were eliminated for failing to turn up. FIFA refused to allow them to re-schedule.
• The team were barred from travelling to India in May 2008 for the AFC Challenge Cup with possible qualification for the 2011 Asia Cup.
• The Palestinian National Youth Football Team was barred from re-entering Gaza for over a month after they competed in Jordan in June 2007.
• The British government helped Israel by refusing visas to enter Britain for a tour – the official reason being that the Palestinian players were ‘too poor to be trusted to return home’. (These are the most tenacious people in the world in clinging to their homeland despite massive Israeli violence!)
• The team are usually forced to play “home” matches in a virtually empty stadium – abroad.
• Israel allowed the Palestinian national team one single match on home soil, in October 2008 but not in Jerusalem and team captain, Saeb Jundiya, was barred from leaving Gaza.
During Israel’s assault on Gaza three Palestinian players were killed in their homes by Israeli bombs: Wajih Mushtahi, Khalil Jaber and Ayman Alkurd.
Israel bans footballs (as well as pasta and coffee) from entering Gaza! Israel claims footballs, pasta and coffee could be used for military purposes. The real purpose is to cause hunger and misery to the people of Gaza.
Most Palestinians are refugees, victims of earlier waves of Israeli ethnic cleansing, and exile means they are unable to participate in the national sporting institutions of their country.
Contact Celtic Supporters for Palestine: Liam 07519 575 060 /Ahmed 07769 850 691
Order Palestinian flags and scarves for 2 Dec
Join and support the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Scottish PSC: all volunteers with no paid staff. Donate to our campaigning work:
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Glasgow)
c/o Fire Brigades Union, 52 St Enoch Square, G1 4AA
0131 620 0052 / 0795 800 2591 firstname.lastname@example.org
General Council statement on the Middle East
TUC Congress, Thursday 17 September 2009.
The TUC reiterates its belief that only when a sovereign, independent, democratic contiguous and viable Palestinian state is created, living side by side with a secure Israel will there be a chance for peace and stability in the Middle East. We remain committed to a two-state solution to the crisis in the Middle East and support for the Road Map. We recognize the enormous suffering of the Palestinian people, and we call upon the British Government to make appropriate representations to the international community to secure lasting peace through a negotiated settlement based on mutual respect and self-determination, on justice for the Palestinians and on security for Israel.
The TUC reiterates its condemnation of the Government of Israel’s offensive in Gaza which resulted in 1,450 Palestinian deaths and 5,000 injured, as well as the massive, systematic destruction of infrastructure. We also reiterate our condemnation of the rocket attacks from inside Gaza against Israeli civilians. We welcome the findings of the UN investigation which highlighted possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict. The TUC remains concerned about the situation in Gaza and reiterates its opposition to the Israeli blockade, which is in contravention of international law and prevents vital supplies from reaching the people of Gaza. We welcome the contributions unions made earlier this year to the TUC Aid appeal for Gaza.
As a result of the Gaza offensive, the TUC calls on the British Government to:
(a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza;
(b) end arms sales to Israel which reached a value of £18.8 million in 2008, up from £7.7 million in 2007;
(c) seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements; and
(d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel.
The TUC reiterates our pledge to work in solidarity with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and urges unions to support financially the TUC/PGFTU projects funded through TUC Aid as well as the joint Histadrut-PGFTU projects being developed in several sectors under the auspices of Global Union Federations. We welcome the resolution last year of the longstanding dispute over the remittance of membership subscriptions from the Histadrut to the PGFTU, which was brokered by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and support any stronger relations between the Histadrut and the PGFTU that they wish to develop.
The TUC condemns the Histadrut statement of 13 January 2009 which backed the attacks on Gaza and showed insufficient concern for the level of civilian casualties. At the same time, we recognize the recent Histadrut resolution on peace and co-operation, welcomed by the ITUC, which calls on the Israeli government ‘to make concessions and take courageous and concrete steps towards attaining peace.’ We will continue to press Histadrut to take a firmer line on these issues. The General Council will raise Congress’ concerns with the Histadrut and report back to Congress on future relationships.
To increase the pressure for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and the removal of the separation wall and the illegal settlements, we will support a boycott (where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products) of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements – through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall. In undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law.
We reiterate our encouragement to unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to raise greater awareness of the issues.