Monday, May 16, 2011

Silencing Rudd is Silencing the Palestinian People

Dear friends,
an open letter to the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival from Israeli activists involved in the pro-BDS Boycott from Within campaign protesting the censoring of Van Rudd's pro-BDs artwork.

In solidarity, Kim

Silencing Rudd is Silencing the Palestinian People

Pop goes the system by Van Thanh Rudd

To the directors of The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival,

"The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival’s (HRAFF) mission is to make human rights accessible and engaging to everyone through creative media. Our vision is a vibrant human rights culture and community across Australia." ~ The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival online About page

We are members of the Israeli group BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within[1] and we are appalled to learn that the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival would ban art. Especially the art of Van Thanh Rudd, a person of color, who's committed his art to commenting on human rights abuses and racism. Specifically a piece supporting the human-rights-based Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement[2], which is a Palestinian initiative and as such, the voice of the oppressed.

Rudd's choice to highlight the connection between your chosen venue (above a Max Brenner outlet) and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people[3] is as relevant as art may get. It's an artistic choice that takes into account not only the canvas, but the exhibition venue. A choice that would make many an art professor and critic jump for joy, but you choose to cower behind your sponsors, instead of staying committed to your own stated aspirations.

"HRAFF endeavours to:

* Advance and encourage education, debate and awareness of human rights issues amongst the broader community through creative media.
* Showcase and support Australian and international artists who are concerned with human rights issues.
* Promote works by or about Australia’s indigenous communities.
* Create a stronger, diverse and more cohesive human rights community within Australia
* Promote businesses and organisations that use and advance human rights, fair trade and environmentally friendly policies.
* Encourage participation and patronage from diverse and marginalised communities in Australia.
* Provide patrons with a way to take action by connecting them to human rights organisations and campaigns." ~ The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival online About page

Rudd dares to imagine a different world than our existing one, where people of Justin Beiber's caliber would use their influence to highlight the plight of the oppressed, as they choose to identify it. In return you turn your back on your own stated values, erasing Rudd's voice from the debate completely.

We understand that you plan on screening the film Budrus as part of your program this year. As many of us take part in the weekly village demonstrations (some of us took part specifically in the Budrus demonstrations documented in the film), we know the importance of anti-occupation action on the ground, as well as abroad. For some reason you choose to draw a line between two pieces that are obviously parts of one united struggle.

We hope that you choose to uphold your stated values of encouraging debate and awareness of human rights issues and showcase and support artists who are concerned with such issues and the rest of it. We hope you allow the debate of human rights to run its course, without silencing the most tenacious and relevant voices, especially within the human-rights-concerned community. Silencing Rudd is silencing all of us. Silencing Rudd is silencing the Palestinian people.

Sincerely on behalf of Boycott from Within,
Oshra Bar
Ohal Grietzer
Shir Hever
Liad Kantorowicz
Assaf Kintzer
Edo Medicks
Jonathan Pollak
Deb Reich
Tal Shapira
Kobi Snitz

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