Artists on Israeli Apartheid

Artists speak out on Israeli Apartheid: in their own words

Hundreds of Montreal artists have united in solidarity with Palestine, launching a public declaration this February signed by 500 artists from the city. Artists in Montreal from diverse disciplines, from dancers to poets, musicians to filmmakers, have issued the first major statement by artists in a major North American city backing the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in opposition to policies of apartheid practiced by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

Montreal’s rich cultural history and vibrant contemporary arts community have lead this city to becoming a key center for the arts in North America. Today it is the diversity of artistic expression that makes culture in Montreal unique, creative exploration consistently exploring the boundaries of art. Additionally the social engagement of artists in Montreal ties groundbreaking cultural expression in this city to community and social movements, rather than market driven motives.

In follow-up to the Montreal Artists Against Israeli Apartheid declaration we offer you a series of quotes from artists who signed and support the open statement as outlined below, including; cellist Rebecca Foon, hip-hop artist Yassin Alsalman (the Narcicyst), author Yves Engler, Jahsun founder of Kalmunity Vibe Collective, Haitian hip-hop artist Vox Sambou, poet Kaie Kellough, documentary filmmaker Shannon Walsh, artist Freda Guttman, filmmaker Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, popular songwriter Yann Perreau, poet Vincent Tinguely and musician/film editor Dexter X.

Below are quotes by Montreal artist who signed the Artists Against Israeli Apartheid open letter, quotes by the artists offer a nuanced perspective on building global solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and the key role that artists play in any solidarity movement.

J’ai signé la déclaration contre l’apartheid Israëlien parce que je considère que le peuple Palestinien subit trop d’injustices et qu’il mérite le soutient de la communauté internationale. Je suis de tout coeur solidaire avec ceux et celles qui revendiquent la paix et la justice dans cette région du monde (et partout ailleurs).

Yann Perreau, auteur/compositeur/interprète – Montreal 2010

This letter that we sign is but one that is needed to spell the word palestine. The lines between justice and peace are drawn by our art. The words that we speak deafen those who silence of our people and the notes we sing rewrite your erasure of our history.

Yassin Alsalman, the Narcicyst – Montreal 2010

Let this be a new decade rooted in hope and peace – as we unite in the struggle for equal rights and justice for the Palestinian people.

Rebecca Foon, musician/cellist – Montreal 2010

Artists should be the conscience of a society, the people first to stand up and shout “the emperor has no clothes”. Montreal is lucky to have such a large body of artists who take this seriously, people who will no longer accept Montreal/Quebec/Canadian complicity in Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians. Bravo!

Yves Engler, author – Montreal 2010

As an artist my focus has always been on building community and supporting people struggling all around the world, our struggle against apartheid in South Africa is still in our hearts and today the injustices facing the Palestinian people is calling for our support, let us stand together for justice and peace in Palestine.

Jahsun, Kalmunity Vibe Collective – Montreal 2010

Pour paraphraser Romain Gary…
Je soutiens cette déclaration simplement parce que “je refuse de céder à l’escalade moderne de la désensibilisation”.
Parce que j’ai habité pendant plusieurs mois en Palestine, et en Israël.
Parce que je me suis fais des amis des deux côtés, et que tous ont envie que ça s’arrête.
Parce que quand on est au coeur de cette guerre, ambigüe comme toutes les guerres, on constate qu’il n’y a malgré tout qu’une victime : le peuple palestinien. Oppressé, occupé, étouffé, à qui il ne reste que l’arme du plus faible : la terreur.

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, réalisatrice – Montreal 2010

My dream is that one day the people of Palestine will win their freedom, in the same way that the people in Haiti won freedom in 1804, in the same way that the people in South Africa liberated themselves from apartheid, today we stand together in solidarity for Palestine.

Vox Sambou, Nomadic Massive – Montreal 2010

As a Canadian I experience a diverse palate of freedoms: freedom of movement, freedom of affiliation, freedom of expression, freedom from harassment, and freedom to determine the course of my life. At the same time, there are others who experience a restricted liberty, a denial of the right to free speech and free association. My freedom, as guaranteed by my country, is relative. It is not absolute, and it does not equate to abandon. I can’t see my freedom as divorced from that of the Palestinian people, or from that of any other people. As long as I benefit from any sliver of liberty, I will feel a strong responsibility to share it, in any way I can, with everyone involved in the human endeavour. That is why I am an artist, and that is why I support this statement.

Kaie Kellough, poet – Montreal 2010

The ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people is one of the defining issues of our time. We must continue to do all we can to stand behind their struggle until justice and freedom are won. Supporting the call for a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign is essential to this support. We will not forget nor will we turn our backs on what is happening in Palestine.

Shannon Walsh, filmmaker – Montreal 2010

I believe that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement is the most important and powerful weapon that we, as members of global civil society, have to bring Israel to sanity and justice to the Palestinians. As with Apartheid South Africa, the collective revulsion of Israel’s actions will one day turn the tide.

Freda Guttman, artist/activist – Montreal 2010

I became interested in the struggle of the Palestinian people when I read Jean Genet’s great book, Prisoner of Love. It marked the transition point between being aware of Palestinians only as ‘terrorists’ (as they were characterized by mainstream media), and gaining an insight into their political situation. In other words, it was an artist who made this issue ‘real’ for me. In subsequent years, the more I learned, the more I was convinced that the current deadlock of injustice must end.

Vincent Tinguely, poet – Montreal 2010

Apartheid is ugly. What’s happening in Israel and Palestine is apartheid: The color-coded IDs, the race-based travel permits, the bulldozed homes, the forced displacement, the settler-only roads are apartheid. As artists, what we are saying is: The best strategy to end this ugliness is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

Dexter X, musician/film editor – Montreal 2010

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