Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Dancers of the Batsheva Dance Company, directed by choreographer Ohad Naharin, June 21, 2014.

More than 120 entertainment industry leaders last week signed an open letter released by the non-profit entertainment industry organization Creative Community For Peace in support of the Sydney Festival and participating artists. The open letter comes in response to attempts by anti-Israel activists to boycott the Sydney Festival because the Israeli Embassy in Australia is sponsoring the performance of the world-renowned Israeli dance ensemble of Israeli choreographer and contemporary dancer Ohad Naharin.

“The entertainment leaders stand united in rejecting the cultural boycott of Israel as yet another roadblock to peace and its subversion of art for nefarious political purposes,” stated the leaders of the entertainment industry, including Gene Simmons of Kiss fame; Aaron Bay-Schuck, CEO of Warner Record; Songwriter/Producer Diane Warren; Virgin Music President Jacqueline Saturn; Director Stephan Elliot; and Sherry Lansing: Former CEO of Paramount Pictures.

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“While art can reflect politics, and artists can choose to reflect their politics in their own art, art should never become subservient to politics, and artists and cultural events should never be forced to be politicized,” the letter reads.

The letter’s signatories believe strongly in the power of art to bring people together, transcend boundaries, broaden awareness, and affect positive societal change. They also call on their friends and colleagues to join in expressing support for the artists of the Sydney Festival and against this counterproductive boycott call.

“We, the undersigned, believe the cultural boycott movement of the Sydney Festival is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition. While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer.” the letter continues.

“The organizers of the Sydney Festival boycott intentionally misrepresent the truth about Israel and make provocative statements, to try and bully artists into backing out of the festival. Their messages deceptively involve an element of dishonesty and deny the truth of Jewish indigeneity to the land of Israel. Their actions only further hostility and dampen hope for peace, which all of us so urgently desire,” stated Ari Ingel, Director of Creative Community for Peace.

Ingel added that “the Sydney Festival is a beautiful event celebrating Sydney’s diverse and rich culture – bringing the entire community together. Unfortunately, it’s now being used for political purposes to divide, rather than unite. The boycott movement is also counterproductive and instead of amplifying the voices of coexistence trying to effect real change on the ground, those who support the calls for a boycott are only creating more hostility, division, and mistrust.”

Click here for the full letter and complete list of signatories.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.