Open Letter to the Brooklyn Book Festival re Israeli Sponsorship

Tell the Brooklyn Book Festival to no longer accept partnerships with the Israeli government or complicit institutions.

To the Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council:

We, the undersigned, including participants and exhibitors at the Brooklyn Book Festival, recently noticed that the festival has chosen to accept support from Israel's Office of Cultural Affairs in New York for one of its panels.

It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel's bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead, displaced a fourth of the population, destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals, and involved numerous potential war crimes. Sustaining a partnership with the Israeli Consulate at this time amounts to a tacit endorsement of Israel's many violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Israel has systematically attempted to suppress, expropriate and suffocate the art, culture, and literature of Palestinian writers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, and poets. We hope that you agree that partnering with a state that practices occupation, colonialism, and apartheid is paradoxical for a festival that celebrates a "lively literary marketplace."

Since 2005, Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience around the world to engage in a peaceful campaign of boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel in order to force it to comply with international law. The BDS movement has grown exponentially since then, attracting support from a range of cultural and literary figures around the globe.

We appeal to the organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival to refuse the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy or any complicit Israeli institution in the future. This is not, we emphasize, a call to isolate or boycott individual Israelis, but an effort to renounce business as usual with a state that routinely violates international law and basic human rights with impunity. We urge the Brooklyn Book Festival to decline future offers to partner with complicit Israeli institutions on conversations about literature, because to continue to do so is to participate in whitewashing Israel's crimes.

As was the case in South Africa, where international solidarity played a crucial role in bringing down apartheid by boycotting the economic, sports and cultural institutions of the apartheid regime, we sincerely hope you will not partner in any capacity with the Israeli government and other complicit institutions, until the Israeli government fulfills it obligations under international law and fully recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to live in full equality and freedom in their homeland.

* indicates panelist or exhibitor at Brooklyn Book Festival 2014
** indicates past participant in the Brooklyn Book Festival

Organizational Endorsements

Palestine Poster Project Archives
Citizens for Palestinian Self Determination
South Asia Labor Watch
Belladonna* Collaborative
Minnesota Break The Bonds Campaign
Berkeley Women in Black
Life or Liberty
Jewish Voice for Peace - New York City
Strike Magazine
Society of graduates of Russian universities in Palestine
Ottawa Cultural Boycott of Israel
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
BDS Slovenia
American Arab Forum
Free Palestine Movement
Direct Action Front for Palestine

Individual Signatures

Bidisha SK Mamata
Susan Natsheh
Simon Wood
ghazi garib
Suzy Hassouna
Claudia Alvarado
Hillary Sametz
Helmut Maier
Robert Schors
Ramsis Kilani
Roland Jesperson
tasneem hayat
Hili Razinsky
kobi snitz
Amos Gvirtz
Saad Farhan
Paul Easton
Pierre Joris
Samar Hazboun