Jerusalem light festival obscures Israeli occupation 11Jun12 June 11, 2012

Alternative Information Centre  -  7 June 2012

As local, international activists mark Israel’s 1967 occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands, the Jerusalem Municipality conducts a “light festival” in the city’s occupied Old City. While artists are seemingly illuminating Jerusalem, they are actually shading Israel’s brutal occupation and annexation of the city.

The Jerusalem Festival of Light opened on Wednesday night, almost 45 years to the day that Israel initiated the 1967 Middle East war, after which it occupied Palestinian and Syrian territory whilst annexing Jerusalem and West Bank lands into what it dubbed a “reunited Jerusalem”.

The festival, which “emphasizes the role and perception of light in an urban setting”, is in its fourth year and the Jerusalem Municipality reports some 250,000 visitors attending last year’s show.

Together with the Jerusalem Municipality, the festival is conducted by the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Ariel Municipal Company, a non-profit venture founded in 2002 to implement large-scale events. The Ariel Company was recently in the news for hiring minors for work in Jerusalem’s City of Ice festival and failing to provide them with the legally mandated equipment for working in sub-zero temperatures

Approximately ten international artists ignored the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel, choosing instead to work with the Jerusalem occupation authorities in ostensibly shining light on Jerusalem’s occupied Old City whilst actually whitewashing the occupation itself. These artists include Afterlight (Netherlands), Bernd Spiecker (Germany), Groupe Laps (France), Jan Ising and Bartozs Navarra (Germany), Luminarie De Cagna (Italy), Nikola Dicke (Germany), Raoul Kurvitz (Estonia), Shanaz Gulzar and Steve Manthorp (England) and Pitaya Studio (France). 

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