Musician and self-professed propagandist for Israel, Idan Raichel is scheduled to play in New York at the World Music Institute on November 18. More than 4000 individuals and 50 groups have called on the WMI for Raichel’s concert to be cancelled due to his role as a ‘cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.”’
‘Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with … Raichel summarized his views in 2012, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara]… I would like to encourage our soldiers, yes, who are so moral, and encourage the IDF, a more moral army you will not find in the entire world.”’
Palestinian Campaign for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) representative, Samia Botmeh commented:
‘PACBI calls for boycotting Idan Raichel’s performances because he is a cultural ambassador of Israel, as both he and the Israeli foreign ministry have boasted. Raichel is willingly lending his name to the Israeli government to re-brand itself and perform damage control after its latest massacre in Gaza. No matter how hard Raichel and other cultural, scientific and academic ambassadors of Israel try to whitewash Israel’s horrific crimes against humanity, people of conscience can see right through their propaganda.’
Usually it is proud Zionists and Israel right-or-wrong supporters who malign actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). However, responding by email on 1 November 2014 to a request for support for a petition against Raichel’s culture-washing performance, the Deir Yassin Remembered Board labelled the Raichel boycott campaign as “gatekeeping”, ‘a tactic used often by Zionists and by people like Ali Abunimah. Hence we would oppose DYR gatekeeping anyone, including this fellow.‘
BDS, a Palestinian-led human rights-based movement with overwhelming support from Palestinian civil society, is aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli regime in order to achieve justice and rights for Palestinians living under Israeli rule, whether in Israel or in the territories it occupied in 1967, as well as the refugees scattered around the globe. Scurrilously, the DYR is attacking both the BDS tactic chosen by oppressed Palestinians themselves, in effect making Palestinians superfluous to their own liberation movement, and more specifically Ali Abunimah, well-known Palestinian journalist and activist.
The DYR organisation, a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization (EIN 20-2681812), has been described by one ex-Board member as a one man show, the work of Daniel McGowan, a retired professor of economics, who set it up in 1995. McGowan expressed his rightwing views on the boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1995.
“As a conservative professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, I disagreed with such prohibitions and political obstructions to the free flow of capital.“
In 2009, McGowan blatantly defends Holocaust denial and trumpets noxious pro-imperialist apologetics: ‘The Holocaust narrative of systematic, industrialized extermination was an important neo-conservative tool to drive the United States into Iraq.‘
“Overarching strategic doctrines issued by successive administrations articulate how the U.S. government conceives its long term maintenance and aggrandisement. It is here that one locates the basic imperatives driving U.S. foreign policy: containing rival imperial powers, advancing the powers of markets through pro-U.S. and pro-capitalist regimes and defeating indigenous and popular challenges to capitalism in general and to friendly regimes in particular. It is at this level that Israel fits in to U.S. foreign policy. Israel is part of a network of states under U.S. hegemony. It must be defended not only for what it does for the U.S., but primarily for what it is, namely, an element of the global assertion of western power. The strategic importance of the Middle East and Israel’s own lack of alternatives further make it one of the U.S.’s safest allies.”
“Although the main purpose of Deir Yassin Remembered is to build a suitable memorial, the organisation also has a broader, more humanitarian objective. It will work to eliminate prejudice against Palestinians and to promote the human side of a people who have been the victims of the Zionist colonisation of their land and of the apartheid conditions under which they now live.”
From its email dated 1 November 2014 above, however, it appears the current Board Directors believe DYR can fulfill its goals by attempting, as do Zionists, to tarnish the chosen BDS tactic of Palestinian civil society and dehumanise Palestinian activists like Ali Abunimah who critique white supremacist opportunism posturing as solidarity. This phenomenon demonstrates the nexus between white supremacism, zionism and imperialism.
While for a few years from 2007, the organisation began to provide educational scholarships for Palestinians, this was abandoned in 2011. Around 8 scholarships were delivered through donations received by the organisation.
The advisors of the DYR Board have changed over the years yet the names of people who have left often remain on the site for many years after their departure, despite requests to remove them. Human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel left the board in 2005 along with Michael Warschawski. Lea’s name remains on the board list to this day.
To the Directors of DYR
We have been supporters of DYR from its very first days, and identified fully with its goals and objectives. During a recent tour in the US, we discovered that Israel Shamir has been included in the advisory board of DYR.
There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of Ethnic cleansing and massacre. We therefore ask you to clarify whether or not Israel Shamir is indeed part of DYR. If it is the case and you have no intention to exclude him in order to keep the moral integrity of DYR, we will have to disconect ourselves from it.
Please forward this letter to all the members of the Advisory board.
Lea Tsemel, Michael Warschawski
Norman Finkelstein, Marc Ellis, Neta Golan and Jeff Halper also resigned from DYR around that time. Neta’s name was not removed until 2008. As Gabriel Ash commented wryly, “The Deir Yassin Remembered board is like Hotel California, you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave).”
‘First, he deflects the discussion from the essentials of Deir Yassin onto the supposed characteristics of the perpetrators. To cast all “Jews” as perpetrators of such heinous crimes, which is exactly how the discussion has been going for the past number of months, is racist, absolutely unacceptable – and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself. Just look at his response to Uri Davis: “a Jew is called upon by his religious law to do utmost damage to one who accepted Christ …” Anyone who knows Uri Davis would know that such a statement is beyond absurd, but the bigger question is: Who in the hell is “a Jew”? Paul’s comment about “Jewish Power” is also outrageous. “THE Jews” is a construct just as false, simplistic, racist (biologically so, it seems) and unacceptable as any other ethnic label used to tar all members of that group with – inevitably negative – characteristics. (I know our “fully human” psychotherapist from Australia will read into this primordial “Jewish loyalty.”)
The inane discussion that has come to characterize the DYR discourse is not even sophisticated racism; its just plain old-fashioned stupid racism. That’s enough to get me to leave.
When I hear diatribes of non-Palestinians against the Palestinian Ali Abunimah because he raises concerns over Shamir’s racism and the entire tone of the DYR discussion, a red light goes off. Has Deir Yassin been hijacked by a cult more intent on pursuing hate campaigns against the fictive “Jews” than in searching for the humanistic, universal, critical and truly relevant elements of the Deir Yassin story? Is Deir Yassin’s memory being sullied by those who claim to honor it?
The resignation of any one of the people who left DYR, Jewish or not, should be a cause of soul-searching, especially among the non-Palestinian “gatekeepers” of Deir Yassin who may be finishing off the job – massacring the memory of Deir Yassin by making it synonymous with racism and anti-Semitism. ‘
Although he was never actually on the Board, Uri Davis’s name appears there as a consultant during 2005 and is removed by 2006. Our source relays that Davis said he would accept the invitation to the Board if he could then argue for the removal of Shamir.
Our sources tell us that in 2005, the late Hanna Braun complained that McGowan had placed her name on his list of “Righteous Jews” on his DYR partner website, without her consent although she made it clear that she found the whole concept racist and offensive. McGowan also placed Braun’s memoirs on the DYR site without asking her let alone her consent.
In 2005, Mark Elf at Jews Sans Frontieres relates that Holocaust denier and Board Director Paul Eisen: ‘has finally come out as, or at least gone over to, supporting a full-blown neo-nazi take on Hitler and the holocaust. … Shamir seems to take the view that Jews should renounce being Jewish or forever take the rap for killing Jesus. Jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, takes the view that if you do not renounce being Jewish then you are a crypto- or under-cover zionist.‘
Tony Greenstein recounted in 2012: “Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.“
In October 2012, Eisen published an antisemitic blog post which was later removed in which he attacked the Free Gaza Movement. After becoming aware of this article, Avigail Arbananel, a director of the Board since 2004, “resigned from DYR because of Paul Eisen”. On the Board since 2007, Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa also left at this point.
Another name which remains on the Board despite having left is Ilan Pappé. Our source informs us that in 2012 during a visit to Sydney, Pappe was asked ‘if it is the case that they are a current member or whether DYR need to update their website’ and he replied that ‘DYR needs to update their website‘.
“I have seen her engage, accept, and encourage anti-Semitic rhetoric, and this is incredibly damaging to the Palestine solidarity movement. What she, and this group, represents is dangerous to our movement in solidarity with Palestinians: a complete disregard for the basic principles of anti-racism and anti-bigotry most of us hold dear.”
At that time, Professor As’ad Abukhalil emphasised: “Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.” Along with a declaration by leading Palestinians, the BDS movement has made a strong statement affirming its “rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism“. The 1 November 2014 DYR email represents a full frontal assault against human rights-based BDS, a principled Palestinian-led movement for justice which seeks to educate people away from racism, to end the human wrongs of colonialism and apartheid inflicted on Palestinians.
Toxic white supremacist ideology – including Zionism – underpins current and past colonial, imperial oppression. Palestinians require better than to have the 1948 genocide at Deir Yassin (perpetrated by Zionists and facilitated by imperial powers) hijacked as a front for DYR white supremacists, in the same manner as settler colonial Zionists appropriate and utilise the Holocaust.
DYR declared a hate group (2017): “Deir Yassin Remembered, a local group famous for its weekly protests outside Temple Beth Israel in Ann Arbor, has been placed on a list of hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center under the subcategory of Holocaust denial.”
Disgracefully, the BFI Southbank is helping to re-brand Israel by hosting the opening gala night of the festival.
Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid Javid – who slandered the Tricycle by falsely implying it was antisemitic – said he would attend.
Other contemporary boycott actions also pinpoint and object to Israel’s culture-washing at major international film festival events. BDSAustria has written an open letter against Israeli Embassy funding of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival 2014, and now there is a Belgian campaign to persuade the sponsors of the Brussels Jewish Film Festival to boycott Israeli government funding. Both letters are reproduced in full below.
Österreichische Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung
und Förderung der jüdischen Kultur und Tradition
Penzinger Straße 35/6/21
Vienna, October 3rd, 2014
Subject: Support of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival 2014 by the Israeli Embassy
On the website of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival the emblem of the State of Israel appears in the category of the festival’s “partners and supporters”. We consider this to be particularly problematic for the following reasons.
For decades the State of Israel has violated international law through an inhuman and deadly policy of colonization and expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population and occupation of their land. As recently as this summer more than two thousand civilians were killed in an assault on the Gaza strip by the Israeli army. In the course of this assault, Gaza’s infrastructure, which had already been damaged by routine Israeli assaults, was so severely crippled that a humanitarian catastrophe ofan unprecedented scale continues to unfold in Gaza to this day.
In 2005 the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office launched the so-called “Brand Israel” campaign. Its explicit goal is to change way Israel is perceived in Europe and the United States, replacing associations with war, military and religion with the positive image of a modern and liberal state. 
Israel’s support of Jewish cultural events plays an essential role in the “Brand Israel” campaign by depoliticizing and normalizing the state’s ongoing aggressive and racist policies. We consider this use of Jewish culture to further a public relations campaign to be exploitative of Jewish culture rather than genuinely supportive thereof, which strikes us as particularly ironic. For years Jewish organizations and individuals worldwide who are critical of Israel have been protesting against this equation of Judaism, Jewishness and Jewish art and culture with the State of Israel. 
In light of this we ask you as the organizers of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival to comment on the concerns raised by us as well as to inform us about the kind of support the festival receives from the Israeli Embassy. If you neglect to do so we have to assume that you at least silently tolerate the State of Israel’s public relations campaign and we will therefore, following the international BDS guidelines for Cultural Boycott , call for a boycott of the festival.
Belgian Letter to the Sponsors of the Brussels Jewish Film Festival
Vous avez peut-être été informé de la tenue prochaine du “Brussels Jewish Film Festival” et peut-être, comme de nombreux organismes et personnes sympathisants de la défense des Droits de l’Homme et la cause du peuple palestinien, avez-vous envisagé d’y assister, voire d’apporter votre collaboration.
Permettez-moi de vous mettre en garde contre cette manifestation.
Comme vous pourrez le constater plus loin, sous une présentation séduisante, ce festival est en réalité une opération de propagande qui a déjà piégé de nombreux citoyens, militant pour une paix juste et opposés au régime sioniste de Mr Netanyahu.
Croyez bien que c’est une têche extrêmement désagréable pour moi d’avertir des amis dont certains ont déjà, sans doute en toute bonne foi, apporté leur soutien ou annoncé leur participation à un événement qui fait partie d’une campagne orchestrée dans divers pays européens.
C’est ainsi que début octobre, des citoyens français ont mené une action contre un festival de ce type qui se déroulait à Carpentras (infos et video sur, notamment, www.ism-france.org)
Comme vous pourrez le constater à la lecture du programme, (dossier de presse et affiche de l’extension à Liège ci-joints) ce festival, qui se prétend centré sur “les relations et les liens qui se sont tissés entre juifs, musulmans, druzes, israéliens et palestiniens”, est en réalité élaboré dans la droite ligne de la politique de propagande actuelle de gouvernement israélien qui vise à :
• Montrer une image positive du régime en occultant complètement la réalité du terrain (massacres de Gaza, colonisation, lois d’apartheid, assassinats journaliers, etc.)
• Réaliser des films qui jouent sur l’émotionnel, montrant un Israélien altruiste et de haute moralité ouvrant les bras à son “frère” palestinien”.
• Créer des personnages de Palestiniens rejetant la lutte (toujours appelée terrorisme) pour la collaboration avec ses généreux et pacifiques amis.
Qu’on en juge!
Résumé du Programme (infos complètes dans le dossier de presse)
• “Arabani” raconte les avatars d’un Druze qui avait épousé une Juive, retournant dans son village et se heurtant à une communauté druze hostile.
• “Bethléem” est un thriller : un jeune Palestinien qui se veut fidèle au Shin Bet est confronté aux activités terroristes de son frère.
• ”Boreg” (“Selfmade”) relate, sur le mode de la comédie, l’histoire de 2 femmes, l’une israélienne et l’autre palestinienne, se retrouvant à vivre la vie de l’autre à la suite d’une confusion à un check-point… On devine laquelle est la mieux lotie
• “Sous le même soleil” raconte la lutte solidaire de deux hommes d’affaires (Israélien et Palestinien) voulant créer une entreprise de panneaux photovoltaïques
• ”Strangers” est l’histoire des amours contrariés d’une Palestinienne et d’un soldat israélien
• “Kidon” relate l’enquête du Mossad sur un assassinat dont il est accusé… Et innocent, bien entendu
• ”Abie Nathan, la voix de la paix” retrace le parcours du fondateur de la radio libre “La Voix de la Paix” qui émettait d’un cargo en face de Tel Aviv.
• “Dancing in Jaffa” est le portrait d’un professeur de danse qui a comme projet de faire se rencontrer et danser ensemble enfants israélien et israélo/palestiniens de Jaffa… Les enfants de Gaza ne sont pas invités?
• “Frères de Coeur” La belle histoire d’un “arabe” d’Israël vivant grêce au coeur d’un soldat “juif” tué par les Palestiniens
• “Juifs et Musulmans, si loin, si proches” retrace les 1400 années de relation entre Juifs et Musulmans… du point de vue sioniste, évidemment.
• “Le Prince Vert” est le portrait d’un des fils d’un chef du Hamas, de ses dix années de collaboration avec le Shin Bet et de sa conversion au christianisme.
• “Life Sentences” retrace les tribulations d’une mère juive, mariée à un arabe qui se révèle être un “terroriste”, racontées par son fils.
• “Life as rumor”est un film autobiographique du fils du général Dayan, présenté comme le “Kennedy israélien”
Sans équivoque, non?
J’ajouterai que les organisateurs de la manifestation avancent “masqués” dans la mesure où ils ne disent rien de leur accointance avec des associations sionistes de droite extrême ni des soutiens financiers d’Israël.
Il est pourtant évident, pour tout professionnel de l’audiovisuel, que ce festival est surdimentionné par rapport au public potentiel et que le budget doit être assez important quand on voit le nombre d’invités étrangers, venant notamment d’Israël et des USA.
Le nombre d’organismes cités comme “partenaires” est, interpellant… Et un peu attristant pour un démocrate.
Sont-ils solidaires de cette entreprise de propagande?
Ont-ils cru que la manifestation apportait du positif pour le respect des lois internationales ou qu’elle allait dans le sens d’une justice pour les Palestiniens?
Ont-ils été piégés par le marketing spécieux des organisateurs?….
Quelles que soient les réponses, il m’apparaît qu’un citoyen solidaire des droits humains ne peut que s’opposer à cette manifestation indigne!
L’UPJB ne participera pas au Brussels Jewish Film Festival
C’est avec étonnement que l’Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB) a vu son nom associé à ceux des Ambassades israélienne et états-unienne dans le cadre du festival de cinéma « Sous un même soleil » organisé par l’Institut pour la Mémoire Audiovisuelle Juive (IMAJ).
IMAJ avait pris l’initiative de nous contacter pour une participation à ce festival, dont l’objet est de faire connaître des productions cinématographiques qui mettent en valeur les relations entre les peuples qui vivent sur la terre d’Israël/Palestine. Nous en avions accepté le principe. En aucune façon IMAJ ne nous avait annoncé l’implication d’ambassades.
Or l’UPJB adhère à l’appel international de Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions (BDS) qui vise, comme par le passé vis-à-vis du régime d’apartheid sud-africain, à exercer une pression pacifique sur Israël pour le contraindre à appliquer le Droit International. Cela ne nous empêche pas d’organiser régulièrement, comme nous l’avons toujours fait, des activités publiques avec des artistes, intellectuels et militants israéliens qui nous intéressent, par exemple parce qu’ils critiquent la politique de leur gouvernement : le boycott s’applique, selon nous, non pas aux groupes et individus en vertu de la nationalité israélienne, mais à la politique d’occupation du gouvernement israélien et tout ce qu’elle implique (massacre de la population civile de Gaza, blocus de Gaza, colonisation de la Cisjordanie et de Jérusalem Est, répression politique, …).
Nous avons découvert après-coup le patronage de l’Ambassade d’Israël au festival “Sous un même soleil” et l’absence dans ce cadre de l’Ambassade de Palestine, dont la participation aurait donné une cohérence au thème général de rapprochement entre les peuples vivant sous le soleil d’Eretz Israël / Palestine historique. Nous nous nous sommes sentis pris au piège et avons finalement décidé de nous désolidariser du festival. En aucune manière, nous ne voulons cautionner Israël en tant qu’Etat occupant et colonisateur.
The All Purpose Guide on How to Handle Criticism™ has been developed for when you’ve written very silly/racist/bigoted/mean things on social media and someone has the outrageous temerity to query you on them.
1.0 Scream “You gatekeepers!” and metaphorically roll eyes at sycophants.
1.5 Important update to improve book sales of defended icon: “You OBVIOUSLY haven’t read the book!”
2.0 Complain bitterly about being censored and silenced.
2.1 Whine piteously about how the critic is being “divisive”.
2.2 Quick security fix: “You’re singling out [Insert object of emotive bias] for criticism!”
2.3 Special multi-purpose combined update – “You have no sense of humor!” “it’s just a joke!!” “It’s only words on a screen.” “Get off your computer and do something important!”
3.0 Wail about “bullying” and launch into a satisfying tirade of ad hominem. They started it.
4.0 Moan about “call out culture” and call the patronising sods out back in a never-ending loop where “discourse” disappears up its own meta-orifice.
Coming soon …
5.0 …… Intellectual honesty?
This program is evolving open source software with a Creative Commons licence, so feel free to develop your own version – if you forget to credit the above version history, expect an interloper, who will test you on your proficiency with the program.
Hi ho the diddlio
A-trolling I shall go,
First thing in the morning,
while i’m still a-yawning,
sizzling up some tender meat
racist ranters smell so sweet.
Oh white saviour –
the burden of empire
on the backs of the willing,
Oh white saviour –
with rightness of whiteness
imperial bait and switch
rules still over the outflung colonies
with their vanguard ingrates.
Israel uses all culture as propaganda and does so unashamedly. In 2005, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit of Israel’s Foreign Ministry emphasised:
“We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.”
Israeli universities are subverted in the mission to sell the apartheid state, with Haifa and Tel Aviv Universities offering courses “in hasbara for Israeli and International students respectively. Hasbara is the name Israelis give to propaganda and disinformation in defence of Israel and the Occupation.”
If they receive funding by the state, Israeli artists who play internationally are expected to be political ambassadors and must sign contracts which declare their cooperation with state marketing aims. The standard Israeli sponsorship contract states:
“The service provider [or in English, the artist] is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel.
Yet some zionist Israeli performers are zealous supporters of the apartheid entity, and fervently offer themselves up as crude instruments of propaganda.
Idan Reichel joins ranks with the cultural boycott of Israel. English translation:
Naftaly Bennett: We love you, Idan Reichel
Here’s what Idan Reichel wrote in Shabat’s Yediot newspaper:
“I believe that our role as artists is to be recruited into Israeli Hasbara. This is a war on our home, and our country, and in times of war we must be recruited. Full stop.
I strengthen our soldiers hands, yes, the so-moral ones, and strengthen the IDF that no more moral army than that can be found around the world.”
At a time of artists and “intellectuals” who make an effort to understand “both sides” (Hamas and Israel), it is wonderful to hear the clear voice of Idan Reichel: I am in favor of Israel.
Dear Idan: You are not wrong. We are not from the UN. We are in favor of Israel.
We will carry on going to your shows and buying your albums (well, because you are such an amazing artist..).
PS – whoever wishes to may share and write “I love you Idan Reichel”, and we’ll flood facebook.
Thanks, Ronnie Barkan, for the translation above from the original hebrew.
Since Israel deliberately employs its artists and academic institutions to market its apartheid and colonialism with duplicitous propaganda designed to paper over the war crimes and crimes against humanity of the state, the case for cultural and academic boycott is strengthened accordingly.