Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (Ahdaf Soueif for PalFest)
Massive Attack, Steve Coogan, Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake, Philip Pullman and Benjamin Zephaniah are among 60+ cultural figures to put their names to an open letter condemning attacks on key Palestinian cultural centres.
The letter says the attacks are ‘part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions’ by the Israeli government.
Brian Eno says: ‘These raids … seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture’
The artists call for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’ against Israel.
Signatories to the letter include:
- Musicians Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Matthew Herbert, Jonathan Ofir, Jocelyn Pook, Benjamin Zephaniah
- Filmmakers, actors David Calder, Julie Christie, Steve Coogan, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake, Leila Sansour, Harriet Walter
- Writers Carmen Callil, William Dalrymple, Inua Ellams, A.L. Kennedy, Sabrina Mahfouz, Ruth Padel, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Rose, Thomas Sleigh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif
- 2019 Turner Prize winning artists Lawrence Abu Hamdam and Tai Shani
In an open letter published today (copied below) more than sixty musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers say that the ransacking of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), the Yabous Cultural Centre and the Shafaq Cultural Network in occupied East Jerusalem, and the arrest of their respective directors, ‘threaten to extinguish cultural life for thousands of artists, students and people in wider society’. (1)
The British Consulate in Jerusalem expressed its concern over the raids, via Twitter. (2) However, the artists say that expressions of concern are not enough.
The letter says that the raids are linked to Israel’s ongoing annexation of Palestinian land. It calls on the British government to take action to halt Israel’s latest round of aggression towards Palestinians . The signatories say: ‘Palestinian civil society organisations are calling for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’, that relate to trade, arms sales and security co-operation. Britain should support them.’
Composer Jocelyn Pook, best known for scores for films such as Eyes Wide Shut, The Merchant of Venice and The Wife, said: ‘These raids strike a blow against music and a blow against education. No government which cared about culture would inflict them. No person who cares about culture should tolerate them.’
Pioneering musician Brian Eno argued: ‘These raids are part of a new series of assaults on Palestinian lives and livelihoods and seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture. It is essential that our government ends its silence, condemns Israeli actions and takes practical steps to stop the raids.’