Boycott Zionazi Apartheid at Delhi International Arts Festival!

[Posted below is a statement by artistes, writers and the Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The statement is self-explanatory. However, as we shall be explaining in a series of posts on Kafila soon, Zionism in Israel has perfected the most hated techniques of their own twentieth century tormentors, the Nazis, against the people of Palestine. Worse still, it has given these techniques a veneer of ‘normalcy’ – and every ‘cultural exchange’ with Israel only helps further normalize this most despicable form of colonial occupation.  ‘Settlements’, in this game of occupation, become the mode of annexing more and more of the Palestinian territory through settling of civilian Jewish populations in what still remains of Palestinian areas. – AN]

Call to boycott The Cameri Theatre at the Delhi International Arts Festival 2012

The organizers of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) — the Prasiddha Foundation, the Hindustan Times and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) — have invited The Cameri Theatre from Israel to perform at Siri Fort on November 4th as part of the Festival’s celebration of “the spirit of Delhi”.

The Cameri Theatre serves as an official propaganda tool for the State of Israel — a state that occupies Palestinian lands and practises apartheid policies on the Palestinian people. The Cameri theatre is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine because it chooses to perform in the illegal settlement of Ariel. Ariel is one of the largest settlements in the occupied West Bank, located on expropriated agricultural Palestinian land. The construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land violates international law, and amounts to a war crime.

The apartheid wall with watch tower - photo taken during a visit in September
The apartheid wall with watch tower – (photo AN/NM) taken in September

Illegal Ariel contaminates Palestinian water and agricultural lands. Illegal 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. By performing in such circumstances, the Cameri profits from and legitimizes Israel’s illegal colonization policies, and becomes an accomplice to these crimes.

The Cameri often chooses to stage plays that convey “humane” messages to deflect criticism. But it is ready to perform these “humane” plays on stolen land – excluding the people of that stolen land suffering the occupier’s military rule. “Culture” and the “arts” do not operate in a non-political wonderland. The best of artists know this well. Renowned British theatre director Peter Brook, much admired in India as well, cancelled his theatre troupe’s participation at the International Festival for Plays of The Cameri Theatre in December 2012. Brook wrote that The Cameri Theatre’s support of “the brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel in the West Bank” led to his decision to decline performing in the Cameri Theatre’s festival.

Many Israeli theatre artists, intellectuals and activists have been working hard to communicate to the world the kind of politics at work behind the “theatre arts” of The Cameri Theatre. Many Israeli actors and artists have, in protest, refused to perform in Ariel. Their boycott has grown to include academic institutions and cultural events. Support has come from highly acclaimed Israeli academics and authors, including Amos Oz and David Grossman. 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.

The apartheid wall with graffiti
The apartheid wall with anti-apartheid graffiti (photo AN/NM)

By hosting The Cameri Theatre’s performance in Delhi, the DIAF organisers are endorsing The Cameri Theatre’s complicity with Israeli occupation of Palestine and the state’s apartheid policies against Palestinians. Surely DIAF cannot equate The Cameri Theatre’s spirit with either the “spirit of Delhi” or the “spirit” of Indian citizens of conscience.

We condemn this plan to woo Israel and promote links between Indian and Israel by compromising cultural practitioners as well as citizens of conscience in both India and Israel. We have to make it clear to the State of Israel and institutions supported by it that Israel cannot be admitted into the global cultural arena as long as it does not recognize the Palestinian people’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 Israel’s colonial and racist policies, we should not showcase India in Israel or welcome groups such as The Cameri Theatre to India.

Israel’s apartheid policies cannot be whitewashed with “culture”, “art” or “festivals”.

We call upon all members of the theatre, film and arts world in India and the academic community to join us in protesting against these attempts. We appeal to all Indian citizens of conscience to boycott the Cameri Theatre’s performance in Delhi on November 4th.

Shyam Benegal (Film maker, Former Rajya Sabha Member)

Sadanand Menon (Arts editor, curator and writer)

Sanjna Kapoor (Theatre person)

Samik Bandyopadhayay (Theatre, art and film critic)

Maya Rao (Theatre person)

M.K. Raina (Theatre person)

N. K. Sharma (Theatre person)

Moloyashree Hashmi (Theatre person)

Sudhanva Deshpande (Theatre person)

Sameera Iyengar (Theatre person)

Aneesh Pradhan (Musician, composer, author)

Bedabrata Pain (film-maker and scientist)

Jana Natya Manch (JANAM)

SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, Delhi)

Prayog (Theatre group, Delhi)

Act One (Theatre group, Delhi)

Kashmir Performance Collective (Theater group, Kashmir)

Kashmir Bhagat Theater (Theater group, Kashmir)

For InCACBI (The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel):

N Pushpamala, Convenor (Artist)

Gargi Sen, Convenor (Film-maker)

Githa Hariharan, Convenor (Writer)

Ayesha Kidwai, Convenor (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Mohan Rao, Convenor (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Saeed Mirza (Film-maker)

Amar Kanwar (Film-maker)

Anand  Patwardhan (Film-maker)

Saba Dewan (Film-maker)

Arundhati Roy (Writer)

K Satchidanandan (Writer)

Aijaz Ahmad (Literary Critic and Cultural Commentator)

Alok Rai (Literary Critic)

Geeta Kapoor (Art Critic)

Ram Rahman (Artist)

Sheba Chhachhi (Artist)

Vivan Sundaram (Artist)

KN Panikkar (Academic)

Mushirul Hasan (Director, National Archives of India)

Ritu Menon (Publisher)

Achin Vanaik (DelhiUniversity)

Jayati Ghosh (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Kalpana  Kannabiran (HyderabadUniversity)

Nandini Sundar (DelhiUniversity)

Nivedita  Menon (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Prabhat Patnaik (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Rajni Palriwala (DelhiUniversity)

Sumit Sarkar (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Lawrence Liang (Alternative Law Forum)

T Jayraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)

Tanika Sarkar (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Uma Chakravarthy (DelhiUniversity)

Upendra Baxi (Former Vice-Chancellor, DelhiUniversity)

Vina Mazumdar (Former DirectorCenter for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi)

Zoya Hasan (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Dhruv Sangari  (Singer)

Kamal Mitra Chenoy (JawaharlalNehruUniversity)

Prabir Purkayastha (Delhi Science Forum)

Gautam Navlakha (Journalist)

Harsh Mander (Activist)

Praful Bidwai (Journalist)

Seema Mustafa (Journalist)

Vrinda Grover (Lawyer)

and 150 others from InCACBI

19 thoughts on “Boycott Zionazi Apartheid at Delhi International Arts Festival!”

  1. Invitation to such Zionist organisations like Cameri Theatre is support for the domination of the Palestinian people through colonialism, occupation, and apartheid. Such brutal oppression is the very antithesis of human rights, democracy and freedom. All peace loving and freedom loving people must oppose this invitation and performance to show our solidarity with the oppressed.


  2. Who the system privileges/disprivileges in the chaturvarnya structure is kind of apparent. When foreign/cultural policy needs to make assertions of this kind, we export our cultural presuppositions, hypocrisies and prejudices. The long term national need seems to be to subsidise privilege. Hardly a subtle change of axis, despicable. Thanks


  3. Reblogged this on Ho-Hum and commented:
    It hurts. It hurts so bad that many in the so much evolved society still do not see through such smoke screens. I wonder when people will realise just how deep do the follies of Zionism run.


  4. Very lofty ideals indeed!! To boycott artists who performed in “Zionist” controlled territory sets up interesting precedents.
    Will Pakistani artists be boycotted? They perform in a country where Shias and Hindus are persecuted routinely.
    Chinese artists? Their record in Tibet leaves much to be desired.
    Closer home, artists who performed in BJP controlled Gujarat during 2002? Or artists who support Modi?

    Protesting Israel is fashionable, I get it. But leave artists out of politics and let them be.


    1. The point is not to boycott Cameri only because they performed in Ariel
      (Clarification # 1. Not “Zionist” but quite simply, Zionist – it’s Israel’s self-description.
      Clarification #2. Not “Zionist controlled” but an illegal occupation of Palestinian land after dispossessing Palestinians of it).
      The point about Cameri performing in Ariel is made to counter Cameri’s claims to being “simply art” and “simply humanitarian”. The larger reason for boycotting Cameri is because every single such institution in Israel is complicit in Israeli apartheid policies.
      And no, Ganji, protesting Israel is not fashionable at all, it is in fact fashionable to bend over backwards before Israel. And India is doing a fine job of that. So are you.
      And yes, different kinds of artistes complicit in state policies of repression may have to be protested against in various ways. Art is not outside or above politics. As for India’s record in Kashmir and the North-East and in tribal areas – this blog has been consistent in mounting a critique of that as well. You may not agree that X group of artistes should be boycotted and I may not agree that Y group should be. But then, surely we don’t expect consensus on political controversies?
      This post reflects the views of those who believe that Israel’s brutal apartheid policies and their normalization should be exposed and that Israel should be isolated the way apartheid South Africa was.
      What is unique to Israel is this normalization, so that all sorts of people who would call themselves liberal see only an “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”; which is pretty much like seeing apartheid South Africa in terms of Black-and-White conflict, with everybody being equally violent, and why cant they sit down and talk to one another?


      1. Nivedita Menon: Granting all that you say above, I would still urge you (kafila) to drop the use of the term “Zionazi,” which is extremely inflammatory and only serves to alienate the parts of Israeli society whose minds you surely want to change through this activism.

        I understand that this is meant to be rhetorical (though Aditya Nigam’s comment above suggests he actually thinks that Israel “has perfected the most hated techniques” of the Nazis, which points to a very grave historical illiteracy), but the comparison is obscene. Please have some sense of responsibility for the consequences that follow from demonizing your adversaries.


      2. Nivedita, I am no supporter of Israel so don’t put words in my mouth and don’t label me. I am merely pointing out the absurdity in the argument presented above. Calling a bunch of artists Zionazi is extreme in itself. Attaching them to their country’s politics is dangerous as a precedent. Keep artists out of political prejudices.


  5. Even small impoverished countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Maynmar do not care for the opinion of India and Indians. What makes these worthies think that Israel wil be bothered about their “boycott”??


    1. Israel may not be “bothered” now, and not by us ” worthies” alone, but this is a global campaign. And since when have resistance to injustice and solidarity actions been undertaken only on the assurance of immediate success?


      1. India had “boycotted” Israel till 1991 or so! Still nothing tangible was achieved.

        Where is the “Promised Land” referred to in The Old Testament? Some people claim that the land becomes “theirs” once they occupy it for sometime!! Why the Jews should agree to their contentions?


  6. The zionist nation, a replica form of the nazi philosophy, doesn’t deserve to survive as a nation.


    1. Ram Mohan, you cannot wish them away! It is a wonder that they are still existing in the middle of hostile neighbours, who are ready to finish them off given half a chance.


      1. Its no wonder dude, its the imperialist interests which is keeping it strong and definitely it will meet its nemesis in the arab people not their rulers who cringe before the yankees.


  7. ZK – perhaps we think that the naming of an action as what it is, is less “inflammatory” than the actual doing of it? And the purpose of the boycott is certainly not to “change the minds” of Zionists, any more than the anti-apartheid struggle was to change the minds of white racists. The purpose of the boycott is to isolate Israel in the world community.
    The “grave historical illiteracy” is yours if you think that “apartheid” and “Nazi tactics” are anything more than a simple description of Israeli policy today. If you’re interested in correcting that illiteracy on your part, you may like to read our posts to come.


    1. surely “the most hated techniques” of the Nazis were the extermination camps where millions perished in industrialized mass murder. it is indeed not only historically inaccurate but unnecessarily provocative to claim that that Israel has “perfected” such techniques. while objecting to israel’s behaviour in palestine or indeed the very right of israel itself to exist can be understood as legitimate political standpoints, it is unfortunate to see such language being used on what is usually a responsible and sophisticated website. very disappointing indeed. perhaps kafila has run its course as the conscience of the indian intelligentsia.


      1. Babaji,
        You are perhaps right that apparently, the Israeli state with its ‘democratic’ veneer does not seem to be like the Nazi regime where millions were exterminated in “industrialized mass murder”. The difference of course is that Israel came into existence in a world wiser after the Nazi experience and a world in the throes of decolonization. Nevertheless, the difference is more apparent than real in some senses. Today it is conducting what has been termed as ‘a slow genocide’, That is the most fundamental point: all of Israel is today a vast camp as far as the Palestinian population is concerned.
        To quote the Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe:

        “A genocide is taking place in Gaza….An average of eight Palestinians die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed. (It’s become) a daily business, now reported (only) in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts. The chief culprits are the Israeli pilots who have a field day,” like shooting fish in a barrel. Why not, they’re only Muslims, so who’ll notice or care.”

        Stephen Lendman of the Centre for Research on Globalization, sums up the situation for the majority of the Palestinian population in the following words:

        “Having your free movement denied by enclosed population centers, closed borders, regular curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, electric fences, and separation walls. Having your homes regularly demolished and land systematically stolen to build settlements for encroachers in violation of international law prohibiting an occupier from settling its population on conquered land.

        Having your right to essential services denied – to emergency health care, education, employment, and enough food and clean water. Being forced into extreme poverty, having your crops destroyed, and being victimized by punitive taxes. Having no right for redress in the occupier’s courts under laws only protecting the occupier.”

        And human rights activist, Derek Graham has this to say about the way the population of Gaza is being slowly subjected to death by forcing them to have contaminated water. This, by the way, is about a population of 1.7 million:

        “The way it works is, the Israelis are creating slow genocide where they basically want to wipe out the Palestinians.

        They are now not allowing desalination plants in and water purification plants in and without water you cannot live and the UN report stated that by 2016 that the water in Gaza will be undrinkable and by 2020 the aquifer will be beyond repair.”

        In other words, Gaza alone is a vast gas chamber in slow motion. Everything else that has been said above applies to all Palestinians. The Nazis, were they to be reborn today, might take lessons from the Zionists in how to combine everything they did with the facade of ‘democracy’.
        I am, of course, under no illusion that I can convince anyone who is determined not to look at the situation as it actually exists. Nonetheless, here are some facts for what they are worth.


  8. Embarassing to have Zionazi on an Indian blog? The diplomatic begging act for friendship and approval at any cost?!


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