Parveen Siddique hosted the lunch at Thornbury Hall on 12th September, which was delicious and attended by 54 people. The dining room could scarcely have held more.
With the help of a raffle and donations from a cluster of people unable to attend, a total of £1478 was raised. With deductions for expenses, MAP will receive £963 which we expect to make up to £1000 as several more donations have been pledged.
Our guest speaker, Jenny Morgan, introduced us to Artists for Palestine (facebook), a new group of artists and cultural figures who were prompted to come together by novelist Iain Banks. Shortly before his death in 2013, Iain wrote “When constructive engagement and reasoned argument fail, the relatively crude weapon of boycott is pretty much all that’s left.” He was explaining his decision to deny Israeli publishers the rights to his novels.
The cultural boycott is a response to Palestinian civil society’s non-violent call on Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza.
Decades of business-as-usual cultural exchange with Israeli state-sponsored institutions has not yielded any progress. Israel continues to defy UN resolutions and International Court of Justice rulings that its occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law. It is a boycott of organisations and institutions, not individuals, who receive funding from the government who, in return, expect Israel to be presented as a diverse democracy which respects the rights of all people. The reality as we know is that Palestinians are second class citizens existing under the harsh heel of a brutal occupation. Hundreds of artists of every persuasion have signed not to ‘play’ Israel and it is beginning to have a cutting edge.
Thanking Jenny, Mohammed Mukhaimar, drew on his own pain as an exile from Gaza, describing the paucity of medical facilities and how the devastation caused by Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza last summer continues to impact today. Babies die without the medical treatment we can take for granted. Medical Aid for Palestinians is in the frontline bringing services to Palestinians and this includes many who are fleeing Syria to find refuge in Lebanon. Next year Mohammed expects to be in a position to invite Sumud Palestine to extend its support of mental health professionals in the West Bank to those in Gaza. Watch this space!
Artists for Palestine’s booklet, The Case for a Cultural Boycott, is strongly recommended. It offers a succinct explanation of why the time is ripe for boycott. There is mounting evidence that Israel is hurting and that the pressure is making it more difficult to use culture and the arts to ‘whitewash’ the reality of the occupation.
For £3.00 you can obtain’ The Case for a Cultural Boycott’ from Sumud Palestine or order it online from AFPUK. Just get in touch.
Clips from Jenny’s presentation: