An open letter to İKSV: Don’t allow Israel to back the Istanbul Film Festival

Dear İKSV organizers,

We have been saddened to learn that the 37th Istanbul Film Festival, which is running from 6 to 17 April, and the 46th Istanbul Music Festival, which will occur between 23 May and 12 June, has accepted ARTISRAEL, an official Israeli institution, as one of its sponsors.

As you are no doubt aware, Palestinians and dissident Jews came together on 9 July 2005 to launch the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which includes the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). The latter has called for a permanent and comprehensive boycott of Israel until it withdraws from the lands it occupied in 1967, ends its discriminatory policies against Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and, in line with U.N. resolution 194, encourages Palestinians to return to their lands by respecting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property.

In the past 13 years, thousands in the cultural and academic fields have heeded the Palestinians’ boycott calls, refusing to screen their films in Israel, take the stage in the country or participate in any event sponsored by the nation.

In his sudden action to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, U.S. President Donald Trump has not only put Palestine on the verge of war but the entire region. And at a time when Israel’s government is controlled by the most right-wing and most racist party, Likud — whose leaders have included the “Butcher of Beirut” Ariel Sharon; Avigdor Lieberman, who suggested that the Palestinian question could be solved by attacking Palestinians with an atom bomb; as well as current leader Benjamin Netanyahu — accepting Israel’s sponsorship under the guise of a cultural event is tantamount to becoming a partner in Israel’s crimes against humanity and war crimes. We don’t intend to expound on a century of Israel’s war crimes, but we would like to remind everyone that just last week on 30 March, Israeli military forces killed 19 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more during a peaceful march to commemorate Land Day. In the interests of having everyone forget these policies of murder and distracting attention from the truth of the occupation by presenting itself as a normal state, Israel uses academic and cultural events as an advertisement or PR campaign, leading it to never miss a chance at sponsorship. Cultural and academic boycotts of Israel provide an opportunity to both prevent the country from appearing charming and normal and to engage in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Perhaps one of the most famous faces of the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel is Roger Waters, who issued a boycott call in a letter:

“I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel …

Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

We second Roger Waters, who gave voice to the Palestinian people, in calling on you to respect the Palestinian people, show solidarity with them, support the cultural boycott campaign against Israel and reject the sponsorship of Israel and its diplomatic representatives.

BDS Turkey