Two Palestinian artists withdraw from French cultural festival due to Israeli participation

Palestinian Campaign for a Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel says festival program violates boycott standards

The Arab World Institute in Paris said it had not planned for participation in the festival in terms of nationality [Getty]

Two Palestinian artists have announced their withdrawal from an Arab culture festival organized by the Arab World Institute in Paris, after confirmation of the participation of Israeli artists.

Palestinian filmmaker and designer Suhad Khatib announced her withdrawal from the festival in a video she posted to her Facebook account.

She explained that her decision was made because “an Israeli artist who is a settler living in Jerusalem will participate in the festival.”

Khatib underlined that “the Institute of the Arab world never spoke to me about the participation of this Israeli artist, in spite of my well-known political positions”.

“At a time when we Palestinians need art the most to heal ourselves from the damage inflicted on us by Israeli injustice, the Arab World Institute is bringing an Israeli settler into the same space where we are invited to us. express, ”she said. in the video.

Palestinian comedian Alaa Abu Diab also announced on his Facebook account that he had canceled a performance at the festival, which was due to take place in early December.

Abu Diab said his decision came “following the statement issued by the boycott movement.”

Earlier last week, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement calling on participants to withdraw from the Arabofolies festival due to “normalization activity.”

According to the campaign statement, the festival coincides with BDS’s definition: “Activities which aim, directly or indirectly, to bring Arabs and Israelis (who do not recognize the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people under international law, including those who claim ‘political neutrality’ or art for the sake of art, without condemning occupation and oppression. “

The campaign, however, clarified that it “is not calling for a boycott of the Institut du monde arabe -Paris and all of its activities simply because it is organizing a single standardization activity.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the coordinator of the BDS movement in Ramallah, said The New Arabic that “the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel is still not well enough understood by some Western institutions, which shows the need for more pressure and advocacy on the part of intellectuals, artists, influencers and activists around the world to spread the word. “

The spokesperson for the Arab World Institute, Dorothée Engel, said The New Arabic: “The Arab World Institute has no plans to participate in the festival in terms of nationality.

Engel added that the festival was designed in the spirit of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s verse: “The hearts of all people are my nationality.”

Engel stressed that the Institute will produce a statement on the developments later.

Darcy J. Skinner