400 New Yorkers celebrate launch of campaign calling on local artists to boycott Israel

New York, NY, November 16, 2015 – On Saturday, November 14th, nearly 400 New Yorkers packed the Verso Books Loft in DUMBO, Brooklyn, to capacity for “Palestine Calling: A Launch Party to Amplify the Cultural Boycott of Israel in NYC” (photos). The event featured rousing musical performances by eclectic artists including oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, Suhel and Tamer Nafar of the Palestinian hip hop group DAM, Brooklyn vocalist and composer Tamar-kaliSonny Singh of Red Baraat, and Daro Behroozi of Lucky Chops. Eighty-eight artists and cultural workers at the event signed on to a New York City-focused pledge of support for the cultural boycott of Israel.

"It was really exciting to be collaborating with so many incredible musicians coming together around the common cause of justice in Palestine,” remarked Sonny Singh. “I hope this concert will inspire many other musicians and artists to join this movement for the cultural boycott of Israel."Riham Barghouti, the event emcee for Adalah-NY and a former member of the El Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe, noted: “We are calling today a celebration but many must be wondering if it’s possible to celebrate with all of the heartbreaking events taking place in France, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. We know our brothers and sisters around the world are struggling. But we also know that we have a choice to make: We can either give into fear and oppression or we can support their struggles by raising our voices high for freedom and liberation.”

"I felt such a strong creative energy in the air the whole night, and it gives me great hope for the future,” said Daro Behroozi. “I am certain that we will continue to create beautiful spaces in which music serves as a vehicle for liberation."

A sneak preview of a new three-minute video of eight prominent artists with ties to New York explaining why they endorse the cultural boycott of Israel was greeted with loud applause. The video will be released to the press and public on Tuesday, November 17th, at 11 AM.

Artists and cultural workers in attendance were asked to join those eight artists by signing a pledge not to “participate in events sponsored by the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions in New York, Israel, or anywhere else.” The 88 people who added their names to the New York City-focused pledge brought the total number of signatories to 180. Actress Leta Renée-Alan was one new signer. “I find it unacceptable to support apartheid,” said Renée-Alan. “What's happening in Israel and Palestinian is apartheid. I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people." The campaign to mobilize more New York artists to pledge their support for the boycott will continue.

The BDS movement for a global boycott of Israel – launched by a coalition of over 170 Palestinian trade unions, political parties and human rights groups to advance their movement for freedom, justice and equality – has steadily gained support worldwide. Ms. Lauryn HillRoger WatersElvis CostelloSantana, the late Gil Scott-HeronCassandra WilsonCat PowerStevie WonderTalib KweliMira NairKen LoachAlice WalkerMike LeighArundhati RoyJean-Luc Godard, and other artists have declined to perform or participate in cultural events in Israel or with institutions complicit in Israeli human rights abuses. Nationally, over 400 US cultural workers have endorsed a statement supporting the cultural boycott hosted by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

Photos from the event: adalahny.org/photo-gallery/1334/photos-palestine-calling-11-14-15

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November 16, 2015

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