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Palestinian Artists to Jason Isaacs

April 3rd, 2014

Dear Jason Isaacs,

As Palestinian artists and cultural workers who directly and daily experience Israeli oppression of our civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights in occupied East Jerusalem, we are writing to urge you to withdraw from the USA Network’s thriller series “Dig”. We urge you to do so, because this film project is planned in a manner that will give legitimacy to our oppression and the systematic violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, by Israel. 

Since the occupation 47 years ago, Israel has annexed and claimed sovereignty in East Jerusalem. For the purpose of establishing Israeli-Jewish domination in the occupied city, Israeli governments and municipal authorities in Jerusalem have pursued a policy of population transfer, including systematic discrimination, expropriation and forced transfer of Palestinians and the construction of large Jewish settlements and the Wall. As confirmed by numerous UN Security Council Resolutions and the International Court of Justice, all of these Israeli measures are serious violations of international law and undermine the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. 

For Palestinians, these Israeli violations have created a situation of apartheid and colonialism. Most can no longer enter the city because they are denied Israeli permits. In the city, Palestinians are prevented from developing their communities and deprived of adequate housing and secure civil status. Tens of thousands have been forcibly displaced due to Israeli denial or revocation of Jerusalem residency permits, home demolitions and forced evictions.  

As Palestinian artist and cultural workers we face persecution for resisting the Israeli policy of De-Palestinization of occupied Jerusalem. We are particularly concerned about Israeli measures that undermine our freedom of expression and assembly and deprive our youth of the right to learn about their history, heritage and identity as Palestinians. Israeli authorities censor Palestinian school books and impose pressure on Palestinian schools to adopt the Israeli curriculum. Israeli army and police conduct frequent raids against students and premises of the Al Quds University, and Israeli laws prescribe fines for calls for boycotts and Nakba commemorations. Our activities, such as public conferences, shows and exhibitions, are regularly stifled by Israeli intelligence and police. Among the many examples are the events planned in 2009 in the context of the UNESCO- and Arab League-sponsored initiative “Jerusalem: Arab Capital of Culture”,  a children’s puppet festival in 2013,  a press conference opposing the enlistment of Palestinians to the Israeli military in 2014,  and the recent arrest of a Palestinian journalist for describing Israel’s mayor Nir Barkat as the “mayor of occupied Jerusalem.” Arrests, summons, fines and threats against Palestinian organizers, hosts and suppliers have created a climate of fear. At least 31 Palestinian institutions have been ordered closed since 2001. Many Palestinian institutions and associations have relocated from occupied East Jerusalem due to fear of Israeli persecution.

The USA network’s film project “Dig” has been announced as project that will be set and filmed in occupied East Jerusalem, in particular in the area of the Old City. It is promoted and financially supported by the Israeli government and Jerusalem municipality who bear direct responsibility for the serious violations of international law and human rights abuses. Israeli officials have heralded “Dig” as “a milestone that will connect between Hollywood’s great success and Jerusalem,” i.e., a Jerusalem that includes occupied East Jerusalem and the illegal annexation, colonization and oppression of Palestinians by Israel. Today, many governments, the EU and private companies explicitly exclude Israeli projects in occupied East Jerusalem from financial and economic cooperation in order to avoid complicity with the Israeli violations and human rights abuses. The NBC, however, has remained silent to the repeated Palestinian requests for confirmation that the drama series will not be filmed anywhere in occupied East Jerusalem, and that there will be no cooperation with any official Israeli entity. 

Since 2005, Palestinian civil society has been calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it respects international law and Palestinian human rights, similar to the campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa. Just like in other struggles, artists are taking a stand and supporting the Palestinian call. Among them are distinguished artists, writers, public intellectuals and anti-racist activists such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, Ken Loach, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Mira Nair. World-renowned artists, among them, Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Gil Scott Heron, Mike Leigh, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless, Zakir Hussain, Coldplay, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo school of Medicine, Mireille Mathieu, Oumou Sangaré, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Lenny Kravitz, Carlo Mombelli, and Stanley Jordan have also refused to perform in Israel over its human rights record. 

We, members of the undersigned Palestinian unions and associations of artists and cultural workers, urge you to take a stand for the Geneva Conventions and human rights by pulling out of the USA network’s drama series “Dig” that will give legitimacy to Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Occupied East Jerusalem, 3 April 2014
Yabous Cultural Center
Palestinian Art Court (Al-Hoash)
The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music 
Palestinian Theatre League (15 member organizations)

Palestinian National Theatre (Al-Hakawati)

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