InCACBI: Cancel Israelā€™s Cameri Theatre performance in Delhi 22Oct12 October 22, 2012

Alternative Information CentreĀ Ā  -Ā Ā  21 October 2012

InCACBI recently learned that the organizers of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) have invited The Cameri Theatre from Israel to perform at Siri Fort on November 4thĀ as part of the Festivalā€™s celebration of ā€œthe spirit of Delhiā€.Ā DIAF seems to be unaware of the fact thatĀ The Cameri Theatre serves as an official propaganda tool for the Israeli state — a state that occupies Palestinian lands and practises apartheid policies on the Palestinian people.Ā The Cameriā€™s performances abroad are sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In solidarity with the Palestinians and their just demand for freedom, equality and justice, IndianĀ academics, artists and activists came together in 2010 as the Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) to support the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott ofĀ Israel.Ā Ā 

InCACBI recently learned that the organizers of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) — the Prasiddha Foundation, theĀ Hindustan TimesĀ and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) — have invited The Cameri Theatre from Israel to perform at Siri Fort on November 4thĀ as part of the Festivalā€™s celebration of ā€œthe spirit of Delhiā€.Ā 

DIAF seems to be unaware of the fact thatĀ The Cameri Theatre serves as an official propaganda tool for the Israeli state — a state that occupies Palestinian lands and practises apartheid policies on the Palestinian people.Ā The Cameriā€™s performances abroad are sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land violates international law, and amounts to a war crime.Ā The Cameri performs in Ariel, one of the largest illegal settlements in theĀ West Bank.Ā IllegalĀ Ariel contaminates Palestinian water and agricultural lands. IllegalĀ Ariel is surrounded by walls and fences, and closely guarded by soldiers and armed security personnel. A theatrical performance in this illegal settlement is, by definition, a performance to an exclusively Israeli audience. Palestinians living even in the nearest village are physically excluded from attending.Ā By performing in such circumstances, the Cameri profits from and legitimizesĀ Israelā€™s illegal colonization policies, and becomes an accomplice to these crimes.[1]

The Cameri often chooses to stage plays that convey ā€œhumaneā€ messages to deflect criticism. But it is ready to perform these ā€œhumaneā€ plays on stolen land ā€“ excluding the people of that stolen land suffering the occupierā€™s military rule.Ā ā€œCultureā€ and the ā€œartsā€ do not operate in a non-political wonderland.Ā The best of artists know this well. Renowned British theatre director Peter Brook, much admired in India as well, cancelled his theatre troupeā€™s participation atĀ the International Festival for Plays of The Cameri Theatre in December 2012.Ā Brook wrote that The Cameri Theatreā€™s support of ā€œthe brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel in theĀ West Bankā€ led to his decision to decline performing in the Cameri Theatreā€™s festival.[2]

Many Israeli theatre artists, intellectuals and activists have been working hard to communicate to the world the kind of politics at work behind the ā€œtheatre artsā€ of The Cameri Theatre. Many Israeli actors and artists have, in protest, refused to perform in Ariel.Ā Their boycott has grown to include academic institutions and events.Ā Support has come from highly acclaimed Israeli academics and authors, including Amos Oz and David Grossman.Ā This protest was met by threats and denunciation from the Israeli prime minister and government, the Knesset, and the managers of Israeli theatres themselves, including The Cameri.

By hosting The Cameri Theatreā€™s performance inĀ Delhi, the DIAF organisers would be endorsing The Cameri Theatreā€™sĀ complicity with Israeli occupation ofĀ PalestineĀ and the stateā€™s apartheid policies against Palestinians.Ā SurelyĀ DIAF cannot equate The Cameri Theatreā€™s spirit with either the ā€œspirit ofĀ Delhiā€ or the ā€œspiritā€ of Indian citizens of conscience?

One of the DIAF organisers, the ICCR,Ā states thatĀ ā€œMahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore — the values that they stood for inspire the ICCR. As do the people ofĀ India, the people who believe in and carry forward the best of this country’s traditions.ā€[3]Ā We remind the ICCR that Gandhi and Nehru clearly stated thatĀ PalestineĀ is for the Palestinians. If they were with us, Gandhi and Nehru would advise ICCR that as artists and citizens of conscience, we should abstain from and condemn all links betweenĀ IndiaĀ and the state ofĀ IsraelĀ as long as it occupies Palestinian lands.

Indeed,Ā IsraelĀ should notĀ be admitted into the global cultural arena as long as it does not respect international law; as long as it does not recognize the Palestinian peopleā€™s right to freedom, equality and justice. At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israelā€™s colonial and racist policies, we should not showcase India in Israel or welcome groups such as The Cameri Theatre to India.

Israelā€™s apartheid policies cannot be whitewashed with ā€œcultureā€, ā€œartā€ or ā€œfestivalsā€. We appeal to you to cancel the Cameri Theatreā€™sĀ performance in theĀ DelhiĀ International Arts Festival on November 4, 2012.

ForĀ The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott ofĀ Israel(InCACBI)


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