Category Archives: Using writers to whitewash

Namita Gokhale and Amish Tripathi: Boycott ‘Celebrating India in Israel’ Festival at the University of Haifa

Namita Gokhale and Amish Tripathi are being asked to take an anti-apartheid stand and respect the boycott of Israel.

namgok      amish350


Tripathi:  and


New Delhi, April 30, 2013

Dear Namita Gokhale and Amish Tripathi,

We, a group of artists, academics and activists in India, came together in 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the Palestinian call for an international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (see

We understand that you are to participate in the festival “Celebrating India in Israel” organised by the Indian Embassy in Israel and Teamwork Productions, and that one of the events, an “authors in conversation” on May 9, 2013, will be at the University of Haifa ( and

We appeal to you, as writers of conscience, to boycott this event. We would like to clarify that the Palestinian call for an international boycott ( and our response to it is not against individuals; nor is it against visits to Israel. The boycott is on all events and projects that involve Israeli state institutions, or institutions that collaborate with the Israeli state.

Why single out the University of Haifa?

1. Haifa University serves as a “proud” home for Israeli security services as well as the Israeli military (see In 2010, Haifa University announced thesuccessful bid for an Israeli army tender to continue training students at the army’s College for National Security for post-graduate studies. Haifa University thus confirmed, once again, the organic partnership between the Israeli academy and the state’s system of colonial control, apartheid and occupation of Palestine. {For more see (1) and (3)}.

2. A report released by the Arab Youth Association-Baladna documents the various facets of racial discrimination against Palestinian students at Haifa University, one of the Israeli universities branded as “a place of tolerance and diversity”.  The report states that Haifa University has condoned, indeed invited, police suppression of legitimate political expression on the part of Palestinian student activists on campus. In the matter of admissions, the university specifies the minimum age of 20 for applicants to a number of specializations, thus discriminating against fresh Palestinian secondary school graduates who have not performed military service.  The University’s dormitory space allocation and financial aid disbursement policies also follow the same pattern. {For more see (2), (4) and (5).}

It is because of these reasons that the British Association of University Teachers called for a boycott of Haifa University in 2005 for “symbolizing aspects of the occupation.”

Should Israel be admitted into the global cultural arena when it does not respect international law and recognize the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, equality and justice? At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel’s colonial and racist policies, we urge you to reflect upon the ethical implications of your accepting an invitation to participate in an event at the University of Haifa. Your participation would inadvertently help whitewash Israel’s practices, making it appear as though business with Israel should go on as usual.

Please don’t let your writing be used to legitimize home demolitions, illegal raids, the use of white phosphorous, political and child imprisonments, racist marriage bans, piracy and execution in international waters, collective punishment, Occupation, checkpoints, roadblocks, and the bombing and closing of educational institutions. If you cancel your event at the University of Haifa, you will also be encouraging other writers, artists and academics around the world to follow your lead, and take a stand for justice and an end to apartheid.


(Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) (

Ayesha Kidwai, Convenor (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Mohan  Rao, Convenor (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Gargi Sen, Convenor (Film-maker)

Githa Hariharan, Convenor (Writer)

N Pushpamala, Convenor (Artist)

Amar Kanwar (Film-maker)

Anand  Patwardhan (Film-maker)

Arundhati Roy (Writer)

Dhruv Sangari  (Singer)

Geeta Kapoor (Art Critic)

K Satchidanandan (Writer)

M.K. Raina (Theatre)

Ram Rahman (Artist)

Saba Dewan (Film-maker)

Saeed Mirza (Film-maker)

Sheba Chhachhi (Artist)

Vivan Sundaram (Artist)

Amita Kanekar (Writer)

Ayisha Abraham (Artist)

Brijesh Kumar  (Theatre)

Ein Lall (Film-maker)

Geeta Kapoor (Art Critic)

Ira  Bhaskar (Film-maker)

Meena Menon (Writer)

Moloyshree Hashmi (Theatre)

Saba Hasan (Artist)

Shashi Deshpande (Writer)

Sriram Ananth (Writer)

Terri Ginsberg (Film Scholar)

And 150 other members of InCACBI



[2] SOAS Palestine Society Report: “Tel Aviv University part and parcel of the Israeli Occupation,”

[3] Keller, U. (2009) the Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories. The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin: Alternative Information Centre.

[4] Adva, Israel, A Social Report 2008-2009, ; Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Education rights—Palestinian citizens of Israel, (2003), Shafa’amr, Israel; Human Rights Watch. Second Class: Discrimination Against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel’s Schools (2001),

[5] Haifa University and the Policy of racial discrimination against Palestinian Students (May 2010); Arabic text at:



(Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)





Asking Writers to Stand up for Justice, Don’t endorse Israel’s International Writers’ Festival

Feb, 2012

This year Israel’s International Writers’  Festival is to be held in Jerusalem from May 13-18, 2012. This is another opportunity for Israel to use internationally acclaimed authors to promote a false image of progressive culture to Israeli citizens and the world.

On 25 February the PACBI published “Public appeal to international writers: do not partake in celebrating apartheid Jerusalem!”

The PACBI states

” … we would like to call on international solidarity groups to put pressure on international participants of the International Writers’ Festival to cancel all forms of participation, and to explain to them the political meaning of their participation.”
Writers are often very receptive people, loving to hear about all people’s opinions.  Some writers are unaware of the call for justice and equal rights for Palestinians.  Sometimes with increased awareness, an author is willing to make a bold stand for humanity.

When a writer is aware of the boycott and its reasons, their continued persistance to be a part of the machinery that churns daily by Israel to create a false sense of “peace” means they do not really care about peace for all people.  Let’s hope the following authors will reconsider their present plans to be a part of that “hasbara.”

PACBI writes

“This is especially … given the festival’s ties to the Israeli political and cultural establishment, which uses the festival as an opportunity to rebrand Israel as a normal country by showing its “prettier face”–its vibrant cultural and artistic community. [1]  Israel, however, is not a normal country and should not be admitted into the global cultural arena until it respects international law and recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, equality and justice.”

“Pertinent facts concerning this festival include the announcement that, in accordance with the tradition of previous festivals, the President of the state will preside over the festival s opening; that it expects to be funded by the Jerusalem Foundation, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Jerusalem Municipality; and that the festival is envisioned by its organizers as a public-relations exercise to ‘improve the image of Jerusalem.’ “

These 9 writers are already on the agenda to present in Israel:

  • Vikas Swarup (“Slumdog Millionaire”)  Contact at
  • Tracy Chevalier (“Remarkable Creatures,” “Falling Angels”) Email her at twitter @tracy_chevalier
  • Boualem Sansal of Algeria (“Harraga,” “Dis-moi le paradis” and winner of the 2011 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.  His novel “Le Village de l’allemand”  is the first of Sansal’s novels to be translated into English, and was published in the US as “The German Mujahid” and in the UK as “An Unfinished Business.”Boualem Sansal during the 2011 German Book Trade Peace Prize ceremony (© picture-alliance/dpa)
  • Howard Jacobson (“No More Mister Nice Guy,” and author of the article “Why Alice Walker shouldn’t sail to Gaza“)
  •  Aleksandar Hemon (“Nowhere Man,” “The Lazarus Project”) Email this natice from Sarajevo who now lives in Chicago at<>
  • Gary Shteyngart from the United States (“Super Sad True Love Story,” “Absurdistan,”) He’s on facebook at and has over 6500 fans, publishing photos and short interesting comments frequently. He’s also an avid twitterbug@Shteyngart
  • Gerard Donovan Irish-born and currently residing in Plymouth, England working at Plymouth University  (“Doctor Salt” and “Schopenhauer’s Telescope”)  Write to in care of School of Humanities and Performance, Faculty of Arts Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA
  • Lorenza Mazzetti of Italy (“The Sky Falls” the 1961 book was made into a film in 2000)
  • Claudia Piñeiro of Argentina (“Betibu,” “El secreto de las rubias”)

Lets hope these authors will decide to be on the right side of history, standing with justice, human rights and equality, instead of with Israel and its apartheid policies.  Contact them with details about why they should boycott.

Author Alice Walker has endorsed the boycott, watch her here in Gaza