THE PANTOGRAPH PUNCH

Society29.11.23

Letter to Aotearoa Cultural Institutions from Cultural Workers: Take Action for Palestine!

Cultural workers and artists are calling for our cultural institutions to publicly call for ceasefire and commit to solidarity with Palestine. This includes signing on to PACBI’s cultural boycott, and ensuring their workplaces support and don't silence workers. Here is their open letter, which you can sign.

Dear leaders of cultural institutions of Aotearoa,

We, the cultural workers of Aotearoa, issue this call to action to our cultural institutions to stand by your values and publicly demand that our government call for a ceasefire. In addition, we ask you to condemn the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide of Palestinians, call for an end to Israel’s apartheid regime and illegal occupation of Palestine, and commit to actions of solidarity with Palestine throughout your organisation now and in the future.

Over the past 53 days, we have watched as the State of Israel has unleashed a crisis and catastrophe on Palestinian civilians of an unprecedented scale. After cutting the supply of water, power, food and medicine to Gaza, Israel has dropped the equivalent of two nuclear bombs on homes, hospitals, churches, mosques, schools, refugee camps, universities and cultural institutions. Palestinian civilians in Gaza have had to decide between leaving their homes or facing death and 1.7 million are now forcibly displaced. As of November 28th 2023, over 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel, including over 6,150 children. An additional 7,000 Palestinians are missing and believed to be under rubble.

On Wednesday 15 November, Israel invaded al-Shifa hospital where around 2300 civilians are sheltering including patients, hospital staff and displaced people. UN humanitarian affairs officials and representatives from Médicins Sans Frontières have condemned this as a clear violation of international humanitarian law, part of a litany of violations condemned by independent UN experts.

Throughout this unbearable period of ethnic cleansing and loss of dignity of an entire population, and amidst ever-louder calls for ceasefire from the New Zealand populace, the majority of cultural institutions in Aotearoa have largely remained silent. This is despite sharing a common belief in the connections between society and culture and often in contradiction of your own values.

Cultural institutions have proud principles they stand by. Freedom of speech and dialogue towards understanding is important to many: Te Papa fosters healing and reconciliation, the New Zealand Society of Authors advocates for the right to freedom of expression, and Govett Brewster Gallery connects people and cultures to encourage critical dialogue about the world we live in. Bravery is a feature: Silo Theatre is driven by being bold, the New Zealand Dance Company takes courageous risks, The Court Theatre works fiercely and bravely, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is fearless. The power of creativity to fuel change is also a common value: Auckland Arts Festival highlights change-making and Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts acknowledges its global whānau who are connected by creativity, a transformative current that flows across borders.

None of these principles are activated by silence. As artists we feel ashamed that nearly all of the museums, galleries, theatres, orchestras, festivals, publications, regional arts trusts, guilds and other arts companies across Aotearoa that represent, house, support and fund our work have not made any public statements that clearly and directly pressure our government to call for an immediate ceasefire at the very minimum, and standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people. When it comes to being critical and courageous for human rights, why does your bravery have boundaries?

Why solidarity beyond ceasefire?

The siege and bombardment of Gaza and the attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank are yet further assaults on the basic human rights of Palestinians, part of a 75-year pattern of persecution and subjugation under Israel’s illegal occupation.

Analysis of all facets of the occupation by Amnesty International (fragmentation into domains of control; dispossession of land and property; segregation and control; deprivation of social and economic rights) has led the organisation to categorise Israel’s occupation as an apartheid regime. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, and former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair have also all described Israel’s occupation as apartheid.

Under this regime, Israel has continued to allow the illegal settlement of Palestinian land. For more than 40 years, over numerous resolutions, the UN security council and general assembly have stated that Israel’s annexation of occupied territory is unlawful. In 2016, New Zealand itself co-sponsored Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed the Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories have no legal validity. Israel has repeatedly ignored the overwhelming evidence and condemnation from the international community.

Now, supported by the USA with military power and diplomatic cover, Israeli officials are not masking their genocidal intent and actions. On November 13th, The Centre for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit against President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken for complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide, and on November 15th, a group of 400 international lawyers filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court that Israel's acts on Palestinians constitute genocide. Veteran French lawyer Gilles Devers stated, “It is clear for me that there are all the criteria for the crime of genocide. So this is not my opinion, it’s the reality of law.”

Craig Mokhiber, the ex-UN official who recently resigned from his UN post in protest made the link clear between the current situation and the history of persecution and silence when he stated on X/Twitter: “The genocide we are witnessing in Palestine is the product of decades of Israeli impunity provided by the US & other western governments & decades of dehumanisation of the Palestinian people by western corporate media. Both must end now. Speak up for human rights”.

Why must cultural institutions in Aotearoa speak up for human rights?

We believe it’s vital that our cultural institutions do not support that same impunity by mirroring the inaction of our government. Our films, galleries, books and theatres are filled with historical stories of New Zealand resisting powerful international political systems in the name of justice, peace and freedom. Indeed, this is a cornerstone of our cultural identity on the world stage. We believe every cultural establishment in Aotearoa that protects this proud history should be considering how they utilise their name to continue that legacy and apply political pressure towards ceasefire.

Secondly, by remaining silent, you’re not only stepping back from your stated principles but tacitly supporting mass human rights abuses, making it appear as if we as communities of artists, writers, theatremakers, curators, musicians, filmmakers, actors, and cultural workers deem this acceptable. Two different open letters show that many of your own workers believe this is not the case.

By remaining silent, you’re making your spaces feel less safe for Palestinian, Arab and/or Muslim cultural workers and diminishing the trust you have built with those same audiences. Manaakitanga and strength in diversity are core principles that many of you share.

And finally, as cultural leaders inside our Aotearoa New Zealand institutions, you understand better than any the ramifications of the wholesale destruction of a people through their cultural sites. When people are dehumanised, their culture, cultural workers and cultural institutions are rendered equally worthless.

During these attacks, many Palestinian artists and creative whānau such as painter Heba Zaqout, playwright and theatre practitioner Inas Al-Saqa, and comedian Ali Abdullah Hassan al-Nasman have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. Israel has purposely destroyed mosques, churches, public monuments and cultural institutions in an explicit targeting of Palestinian cultural heritage. These include Al-Omari Grand mosque, the oldest mosque in Gaza with its 1400 year-old minaret, the Church of St Porphyrius which dates back to 407 AD, Gaza’s main public library, and important institutions such as Rafah Museum and Al Qarara Museum.

In a statement, The Palestinian Museum stated, “The indiscriminate bombing of all aspects of life in Gaza aims, not only to erase Palestinians from the present, and to erase Gaza City so that no Palestinian can return, but also to completely erase our cultural achievements, and thus our history: to make it seem like we never existed at all”.

As kaitiaki of culture in our settler colonial nation of Aotearoa, we know you will understand how terrifying that statement is.

We ask you to break your silence, to stand by your principles, and invite you to join those across the globe making a clear and unimpeded call for ceasefire to protect both Palestinian and Jewish lives. There is no military solution to peace. Palestinian freedom is peace for all.

In collective sector groups or as individual organisations, we as artists and cultural workers call on Aotearoa cultural institutions to:

1. Make a clear public statement demanding that the New Zealand government call for a ceasefire.

2. Condemn the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide of Palestinians, violations of international law, and call for an end to Israel’s apartheid regime and illegal occupation of Palestine.

3. Purposefully consider and commit to actions of solidarity with Palestine now and in the future and clearly communicate this. For example, declare your commitment to a cultural boycott of Israel as defined by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); audit your funding, investments and sales products; ensure a safe workplace that supports and doesn't silence workers; and support education and information literacy via collections, public programmes or performances. We encourage you to set an action plan for this.

This letter has been signed by over 400 cultural workers in Aotearoa New Zealand so far.

SIGN HERE: FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ADD YOUR NAME!
SIGN HERE: FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ADD YOUR NAME!
SIGN HERE: FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ADD YOUR NAME!

Signed by:

Kate Prior

Sam snedden

Jazz dos Santos

Delilah Te Aōrere Parore-Southon

Saraid de Silva

Olivia Tennet

Laura Hill

Timmie Cameron

Bonny Crayford

Nina Finigan

Rachel Anne

Chris Parker

Yvette Parsons

Poppy Serano - Household Norms Manawatū

Vanessa Mei Crofskey

Mya Morrison-Middleton

Yvette Parsons

Lucy Meyle

Natasha Ratuva

Donna Demente

Tanya Barlow

Brittany Scott Clark

Laura Gamble

Stella Reid

Heleyni Pratley

The PumpHouse Theatre

Bella Wilson

Gisele Proud

Pennie Chang

Jon Bakos

Annabel Harrison

Virginia Frankovich

Roberto Nascimento

Melissa Laing

Lauren Gibson

Marion Prebble

Nisha Madhan

Renée Sheridan

Comfrey Sanders

Hana Pera Aoake

Lee Smith-Gibbons

Kate McGill

Tessa Waters

Alix Whittaker

Joshua Winger

Lucinda Bennett

Laura Blake

Alexander Mitcalfe Wilson

Nicole Helene

Janet Olla

Anna McLean

Chelsie Preston Crayford

Ilish Thomas

Jonathan Porter

Petmal Petelo Lam

Cole Jenkins

Rebecca Wright

Caitlin Bossley

Bailey Poching

Anthony Metcalf

Lynne Cardy

Alistair Deverick

Lucy O’Brien

Alice Canton

Hollie Fullbrook

Rahine O’Rielly

Emily Isaac

James Roque

Shona McCullagh

ANTHONY CRUM

Aidee Walker

Brigit Kelly

Fenella Chia

Jack Barry

Age Pryor

Harriett Maire

Jane Groufsky

Holly Willson

Elyssia Wilson-Heti

Selina Ershadi

Esther Toclo

Cynthia Johnson

Lara Fischel-Chisholm

Arts Makers Aotearoa

Natasha matila-smith

Cindy Jang-Barlow

Tony Black

Ruby White

Naomi van den Broek

Jack Buchanan

Renaye Tamati

Jeremy P. Finnigan

Sasha Tilly

Gabrielle Vincent

Jess Bourke

Arielle Walker

Elle Loui August

Alexander L. Brown

Anna Hoetjes

Yana M’Baye

Hera Dunleavy

Zoe Black

Terri Elder

Alice Connolly

Rose Matafeo

Samantha Cheng

Antonia Barnett McIntosh

Hamish Parkinson

Holly Chappell

Hannah Lynch

IAN LEE

Chye-Ling Huang

Thomas Fink-Jensen

Ted Whitaker

Abigail Johnson

Alesha Ahdar

Shelley Botticelli

Sofia Ishimnikova

Ella Gilbert

Christina Pataialii

Lucy Chappell

Joicy Xu

Gwen Lin

Briar Lomas

Shannon Freeman

Hutch E Wilco

Quintin Ellery

Tessa Mitchell

Maya Love

Leo Goldie-Anderson

Erin Banks

Melanie Kung

Mirabel Oliver

Madeleine Gifford

Benjamin Doyle (Ngāpuhi/Pākehā)

Helena Ikitoelagi-Feilo

Katie Burton

Hossam AlMonzer

Braden McMahon

Annie James

Natasha Pearl

Aych McArdle

Grace Iwashita-Taylor

Frances Stachl (Ngāpuhi)

Keporah

Jessie Anderson

Max Barker-Cowan

Mya Chaitika

Fen Covich

Sananda Chatterjee

Pauline Ward

Eilidh Pūrewa Huggan (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata)

Meg Andrews

Aloali'i Tapu

Stevie Hancox-Monk

Meg Rollandi

Hazim Jamal

Elizabeth Thomson

Rutene Spooner

Samuel Beca

Renee Lyons

Gabriel McGregor

Ziggy Lever

Pulkit Arora

Martyn Pepperell

Moanaroa Zagrobelna

pip adam

Alison James

Conor Bowden

Fiona Amundsen

Iliane McEwen

Tessa Farrant

Brynley Stent

Julie Zhu

Julia Stevenson

Samuel Walsh

Ruby Goodyear

Michelle Savill

Georgina Watson

Kristen Wineera (musician)

Daniel Sanders

Vida Zelenka

Loretta Riach

Kat Lang

Tom Augustine

Holly Best

Abbey Yeoman

Cushla Donaldson

Georgia Kerby

Frances Carter

Imogen Taylor

Jonny Eagle

Hannah Wilson

Byron Coll

Rosabel Tan

Serena Cotton

Natasha Kohler

Katherine MacLeod

Briar Mann

Bena Jackson

Sian Lawler

Alisha Paul

Ursula williams

Tom Eason

Georgia Taylor

Hash Perambalam

Andrea Low

Katie Shaw

Mustaq Missouri

Alia Marshall

Christel Chapman

Kimberley Hur

Zoey Singh

Roxie Mohebbi

Minsoh Choi

Ashleigh Waters

Charlotte Imogen Benoit

Baqir

Elana Tkatch

Jack Woon

Ralph McCubbin Howell

Amorette Lessing

Lily Rose Shaw

Grace Sinclair

Ayham Al saafin

elese dowden

Dr Kirsty Baker

Erin Harrington

Phoebe Johnson

Bryn van Vliet

James Sullivan

Luca Szalmas

Shana Chandra

Ayman Tallaj

Ella Yiannoutsos

Oriwa Hakaraia

Abdo hamama

Nina

Reva Mereaira Grills

Louisa Hormann

Jieying

Liv McClymont

Cat Fawcett-Cornes

Sylvia Edge

C Rudzinski

Abe Baillie

Catarina Gutierrez

Caren Davis

Sam Carswell

Iman Mahyup

Amber Wilson

Brooke Pou

Annabel Dodebier

Mia Maramara

Christopher Stewart

Ariana Williams

Rae Longshaw-Park

Charlotte Huddleston

Gaysorn Thavat

Anna Bedggood

Hannah

M Bek

De Jana Sveistrup

Alex Martyn

E Davies

Rhoda Baker

Phoebe Driver

Ariana Palacios

Kasina Campbell

Bianca Hyslop

Thomas Press

Shannon Kelly

Lucy Reid

Ian Craig Young Brown

Estelle Moana Stroud

Raewyn Martyn, artist and teacher.

Graham Frost

Lucinda Ng

Nathan Joe

Madison Kelly

Simon Gennard

Karin Reinholt

Josiah Morgan

Bridget Wong

Nat Tozer

Jessica Hamilton

Lindsey de Roos

Lachlan Taylor

Abby Cunnane

Kura Forrester

Josephine Archer

Alexia Moore

Chris McBride

Michaela Keeble

Fred lidd

Sacha Young

Siân Torrington

Briar Vivian

Jamiema Lorimer

Amy Cumming

Ashleigh Min

Ryan Carter

Moya Lawson

Luke McPake

Annabel Kean

Nathan Savill

Juniper Hull

Matt Tini

Paddy Walker

Yasmine Maarouf

Kirstin Cool

Isabella Macdonald

Steph Walker

Terri Te Tau

Chelsea Bridges

Bronwyn Ensor

Kathy Lee

Caroline McQuarrie

Abby Howells

Louise Palmer

Te Pou Theatre

Michelle Blundell

Natalie Looyer

Ria Paki

Hamish Pattison

Cathy Tuato’o Ross

Sabina Rizos-Shaw

Ana Scotney

Amanda Grace Leo

Shreya Gejji

Sonya Nagels

Tanya Ruka

Lucy Marinkovich

Jess Hong

Hamish Coleman

Emily Hartley-Skudder

Fern Sutherland

Amy Weng

Lewin Waters

Via Tuimaseve

Suivaaia Pritchard

Pelenakeke Brown

Matariki Williams

Vioula Said

Yvette Parsons

Joe Naufahu

Kenny Sterling

Aloalii Tapu

Tori Manley-Tapu

Ta'alili

Ghazaleh Gol

Sia Siafa

Red Nicholson

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Katie Swift

Jacqui Broughton

Linda Gilbert

Pippa Sanderson

Simon Endres

Vida Quivooy

Lani Kereopa

Eve de Castro-Robinsom

Su Nelson

Sara Cowdell

Victoria Passau

Bonnie

Megan Vertelle

Te Maari Barham

Zephyr Zhang

Noa Campbell

Yvette Walker

Bridget Reweti

Jordan Davey-Emms

Simon Palenski

Chloe Reweti

Georgina May Young

Samantha Small

Krystal O’Gorman

Kay Benseman

Lizzie Tollemache

Tina Turntables

Teresa Cimino

Prisca Bouchet

Jessica Kidd

Freya Daly Sadgrove

Eliza Josephson-Rutter

Ella Becroft

Lisa Beauchamp

Kathryn Tsui

Kemi & Niko

Sinead Overbye

Tijana Cvetkovic

Kate Lepper

Sophia St Villier

Mary Walker

Siobhan Connelly

Una Dubbelt-Leitch

Sarah Hudson

Anne Peranteau

Anna Muirhead

Georgia hall

Tim Wagg

Louise Jiang

Ro Bright

Alexandra Stronach

Silke Hartung

Mandy Hager

John Palethorpe

Giovanni Tiso

Chris Tse

Ronnie Smart

Frances Stachl (Ngāpuhi)

Ilish Thomas

James Goggin

Tate Fountain

Libby Hakaraia

Alia Marshall

Nour Hassan

Isabella McDermott

Bianca Parker

Stinky Jim

Isabella Hall

Alex Huber

Marian Evans

Professor Andrew Jull

Dieneke Jansen

Jinki Cambronero

Georgie Llewellyn

Sophie Jerram

Anapela Polataivao

Aysha Thomas

Rachael Naomi

Marty Smith

Tyla Stevenson

Jacob Abdale-Vague

Karin McCracken

Bianca Parker

Hana Rakena

Fiona Keith-Kirk

Mhairead Connor

Melanie Luckman

Sonia Fonua

Rand Hazou

Sian Montgomery-Neutze

Raukawa Kiri

Nicole Titihuia Hawkins

Charade Honey

Trinity Thompson-Browne

Jamie Taylor

Ellen-Moana Smith

Tegan Hautapu

Indiana carder-Dodd

Mariwakiterangi Paekau

kahui mihaere

Maraea Henare

Horijack cammock

Sacha Miriama van den Berg

Emara whaanga

Te Rawhitiroa Bosch

Sophia Malia Klinge

KeriMei Zagrobelna

Te Kahureremoa Taumata

Vonny Jackson

Holly Walker

Taranaki Ah Young-Grace

Rachelle Mere Forbes

Sarah hocquard

Khye Hitchcock

Melanie Tangaere Baldwin

Dyana Treiblmayr-Grace

Leila Houlbrooke

Caitlin Jolley

Khailana

Amba Te Ngoungou

Stephanie Nathan

Cassie Low

Heramaahina Eketone

Teirangi Klever

Tamahina Sheridan

Catherine Anderson Rhodes

Aliyah Winter

Holly Fletcher

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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