Regarding “Creative Time Summit”: No Time for Creativity With Apartheid Israel

It has recently come to our attention that the Creative Time Summit has listed the Israeli Center for Digital Art (ICDA) as a major partner for this year’s summit.  After discovering this, we cannot in good faith participate in the 2012 Creative Time Summit in adherence to the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched by Palestinian civil society in 2004, and our own conscience as a political collective based on principles of social justice, equality, anti-racism and anti-Zionism.

The invitation to participate that we received from Creative Time initially impressed us with its language, claiming to be a response to “a growing community of cultural practitioners working in the realm of social justice and socially engaged art practice” and exploring “the impact of wealth inequity across the globe as it engenders totalitarianism and undermines democracy”.  This language and other similar statements about democracy, equality and revolution were encouraging to us.  We believed that the discourse around these topics was finally shifting from its traditionally unjust and orientalist political coordinates.

However, to say all these things and then include an Israeli organization which is funded by the Israeli Government as a ‘major partner’ seems a gross contradiction of these stated values, if not outright hypocrisy.  The ICDA makes clear on their website that they receive support from both the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport and the City of Holon, both governmental bodies.  According to an interview with the director, Eyal Danon, 30% of their annual funding comes from the City of Holon, who also helped initiate the center and are responsible for its maintenance.  In the words of Mr. Danon, “we always raise money from sources that fit the socio-political nature of our program.”

The ICDA’s financial and practical foundation, therefore, places them squarely within the Israeli state and its machinery of colonial subjugation and apartheid.

After the Second Intifada Mr. Danon said “we started doing projects that were aiming at communicating with artists/curators working in similar conditions in the region (Palestinian authority, Arab states) as well as in the Balkan area.”  This inappropriate emphasis on symmetry runs through their work ever since.  The deaths of 13 IDF soldiers (4 from friendly fire) during the 08/09 assault on Gaza is not a “similar condition” to the killing of 1,417 Palestinians, of which at least 313 were children.  The J14 protests over rising rent prices do not represent a “similar condition” to the homelessness of the 160,000 people whose houses have been destroyed by Israeli government policies of urbicide pursued since 1967.  Worrying about security in Tel Aviv is not the same as the violent segregation enforced by 5,000 soldiers to ‘secure’ 500 settlers in Hebron/Al Khalil.  The presentation of the colonization of Palestine as being an issue of — or the apparent absence of — ‘dialogue’ and ‘communication’ is a fallacy used to disguise the continuing ethnic cleansing of a people.  The ICDA, therefore, is at best complicit in and at worst supportive of the occupation, dispossession and continued oppression of the Palestinian people.  Calls for balance and bilateralism do not change this, they only serve to mask it.

The ICDA says they express “views that do not correlate in many cases with policies of the state”.  This is not enough.  When your state is involved in a 60 year campaign of ethnic cleansing, when it has constructed a system of racial discrimination and subjugation that Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.  I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about”, it is your moral duty to resist it completely.

We urge the ICDA to take a stand on the right side of history, to break their financial relationship with the state of Israel, to endorse the BDS movement and work towards the end of apartheid and occupation, and for the establishment of equal political and civil rights for all: including Palestinian refugees in and out of Palestine.

In Egypt, our revolution that so impressed the world was not only against a half century of military rule and injustice locally, but is part of a worldwide movement for freedom, equality, social and economic justice; a movement to finally free the world of colonialism and imperialism.  We stand side by side with people fighting for “another world” on the streets of (but not limited to) Tunisia, Sudan, Portugal, Syria, Bahrain, Greece, the Spanish State, the USA, Chile, Chiapas and Palestine.  We view the future we are fighting for in Egypt as inseparable and inalienable from the future of other peoples fighting against the same system whose governments are complicit in our oppression.  We hold Palestine at the heart of our struggle and seek now to make amends for the complicity of the Egyptian state in aiding and allowing the continuing colonization of our neighbour.

It is of no small significance that the Second Intifada was the first event in the last 30 years to bring huge numbers of demonstrators to the streets of Egypt, which helped build the momentum that led to the January 25th revolution.

We affirm, individually and collectively within the Mosireen collective, our commitment to PACBI’s Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and to the principles of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.  We urge other participants in Creative Time Summit, mentioned below, and the Creative Time Summit itself, add their names to this statement and affirm their commitment to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) call to:

“Comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.”

Participants in the Creative Time summit 2012:

Martha Rosler, Slavoj Žižek, Tom Finkelpearl, Maurício Brandão representing: BijaRi, Jeff Chang, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Conflict Kitchen, Malkia Cyril, Mike Daisey, Caleb Duarte representing EDELO, Jodie Evans representing Code Pink, Emeka Okereke representing Invisible Borders, Suzanne Lacy, Steve Lambert, John Malpede representing Los Angeles Poverty Department, Josh MacPhee, Leonidas Martin, Rabih Mroué, Joia Mukherjee, Seçil Yersel representing Oda Projesi, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar representing Otolith Group, Laura Poitras, Michael Rakowitz, Djordie Balmazovic representing Škart, A. L. Steiner, Hito Steyerl, Sergina representing Taring Padi, Tidal Journal, Pablo Helguera and Rebel Diaz.

Mosireen is a non-profit media collective in Downtown Cairo born out of the explosion of citizen media and cultural activism in Egypt during the revolution.  For more information: <>; and <>.

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