External Affairs

Delhi Art Gallery Urged Not to Accept Israeli Government Patronage

File picture of Palestinian boy looking at an Israeli soldier along the wall Wikipedia commons

File picture of Palestinian boy looking at an Israeli soldier along the wall Wikipedia commons

The conveners of InCACBI (The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), have urged a Delhi art gallery to not accept patronage from the Israeli state. The Apeejay Media Gallery, dedicated to new media and video art, is re-opening in Delhi this month. Their opening show ‘Beyond the Invisible’ is funded and patronised by the Israeli government, and will be inaugurated by the Israeli Ambassador to India.

Members of InCACBI, including Pushpamala N, Githa Hariharan, Prabir Purkayasta and Sukumar Muralidharan, while expressing that they are not against any individual Israeli artists or citizens, have asked the gallery not to support the Israeli government’s efforts to cover up negative international perception they have got.

“…The title of the show – Beyond the Invisible – is somewhat ironical and cruel. The Israeli state is making Palestinians invisible in every way with their policies and actions, creating a state of apartheid and surveillance. The logo on your invitation card which says “Israel- The Spirit of Creativity”  is the new re-branding language created by the Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry to change the world’s negative perception of it and make it sound ‘fun loving, creative, colourful and forward’. Please do not let your wonderful organization help Israel to whitewash its illegal occupation, its flouting of international law with its settlements, its apartheid policies, and what is most relevant for us artists, the suppression of the artistic and cultural freedom of the Palestinians.”

Cultural boycott of Israel

Over the last decade, Palestinian academics, cultural groups and civil society groups have been calling for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, noting that the Israeli state had been denying Palestinians of their fundamental rights and freedoms while encroaching further and further into Palestinian land. In 2005, civil society groups extended this call to what is popularly known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

This movement has gained substantial international support from those who believe Israel is guilty of persistent violations of international law that cannot continue to go unnoticed and unchallenged.

The international supporters of BDS have also signed a statement asking scholars not to attend a seminar on The Indian Predicament: South Asia in WWII, to be held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in June 2016. Fifty-five scholars and intellectuals, most of whom work on South Asia, have signed the statement urging the participants to uphold the academic boycott of Israel.

The statement says,“… the academic boycott is an act of solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues who are denied academic freedom–it is a denunciation of their condition of un-freedom. Israel systematically denies Palestinian academics and students the right to education and the freedom of movement, for they are not able to freely travel for study, conferences, and research, within Palestine and across borders. Palestinian universities have been bombed; schools have been closed; scholars and students have been deported, arrested, and in some cases, killed.

Israel also regularly prevents international scholars and students from doing research or studying in Palestine and regulates who can enter its borders to visit Palestinian academic institutions. … we note the irony in the workshop’s call for papers that mentions the decolonization of India at the end of WWII without acknowledging that India’s decolonization occurred as the settler colonial regime was established in Palestine in 1948, the year of the Nakba. There is certainly an interesting discussion to be had about “comprehension, memory, and judgment” of WWII and the role of nationalist struggle that would productively bring historians of South Asia to discuss these questions in Jerusalem.”

This statement has been signed by several eminent academics including Aijaz Ahmad, Partha Chatterjee, Nivedita Menon, Vijay Prashad, Tithi Bhattacharya, Junaid Rana, and Najaf Haider.

  • N Motwani

    I’m sure it’s all very noble to try and help Palestine. But why are these groups in India overly concerned? It is better to be practical and maintain good relations with Israel as India and Israel have many mutual interests.

  • Keshav

    I thought art and music didn’t had any religion or nationality…Right liberals? Lol cry and whine as much as you can because Israel and India will be the best allies and your crying won’t stop it..

    • goteamben

      Actually liberals tend to believe that art and music does have a nationality, which is why ‘cultural appropriation’ has been a hot topic in recent years