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Israel West Bank barrier Free Palestine graffiti
Montecruz Foto via Flickr / Creative Commons

More than 900 artists sign up to cultural boycott of Israel

Brian Eno, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are among those calling on the creative community to support Palestine

Over 900 artists are calling for an end to the oppression of Palestine, and they’re turning their backs on Israel to do it. Filmmakers, musicians and writers including Brian Eno, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach have announced a cultural boycott of Israel until its government "complies with international law and universal principles of human rights".

The pledge comes from Artists For Palestine, a UK organisation which explains that its campaign is a "non-violent gesture of support for those Palestinians trapped in Gaza".

In a letter published by the Guardian, Artists for Palestine state: "We are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Since the summer war on Gaza, Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence."

Some artists like Kes filmmaker Ken Loach have long supported an "absolute boycott of all the cultural happenings supported by the Israeli state" for years. In a statement, Brian Eno said that he has thought "long and hard" about joining the boycott. 

"It’s a difficult decision, and it risks turning culture into a political weapon," Eno explained. "But in Israel today, culture already is a political weapon. And the danger is that the culture we create becomes co-opted into the Israeli arsenal."

More than 200 artists have signed up to the pledge since its public launch on February 13, bringing the total tally of artists closer to 1,000.  

The Gaza-Israel conflict last summer resulted in the deaths of almost 2,200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis. According to a recent UN assessment, over 100,000 homes "remain damaged or destroyed in the hostilities".