Israel-Hating D-List Celebrities Misrepresent Israel’s Arrest of Palestinian Cultural Center Directors

A number of anti-Israel and even antisemitic “celebrities,” including Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Massive Attack, and Julie Christie, have put their names to an open letter condemning Israel for raiding two palestinian Arab cultural centers in East Jerusalem, and arresting their directors.

The arrested cultural center directors: Rania Elias and her husband Suheil Khoury

On 22 July in occupied East Jerusalem Israeli police raided the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) and the Yabous Cultural Centre, two of the most important cultural centres in Palestine. The buildings were ransacked and their directors arrested. SHAFAQ, the network which links the major Palestinian arts institutions in East Jerusalem, also saw its director arrested, after his home was invaded by police.

These attacks threaten to extinguish cultural life for thousands of artists, students and people in wider society. They are part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions of indigenous Palestinians by the Israeli government.

This campaign is linked to Israel’s plans to annex large areas of Palestinian territory, which UN human rights experts have described as a ‘vision for a 21st century apartheid’.

We note that the British Consulate General in Jerusalem has expressed its ‘concern’ about the raids. It must go further than this.  Israel’s policies must be brought to a halt.

We call on the British government to condemn the raids and to take action to stop Israel’s ongoing annexation. Palestinian civil society organisations are calling for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’, that relate to trade, arms sales and security co-operation. Britain should support them.

Full list of 60+ signatories:

  • Lawrence Abu Hamdam, artist
  • Nicholas Blincoe, writer
  • Victoria Brittain, playwright, journalist
  • David Calder, actor
  • Carmen Callil, publisher
  • Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, producer, performance-maker
  • Julie Christie, actor
  • Steve Coogan, actor, comedian
  • Selma Dabbagh, writer
  • William Dalrymple, author
  • Andy De La Tour, actor
  • Tam Dean Burn, actor
  • Raymond Deane, composer, author
  • Robert Del Naja, Massive Attack
  • Laurence Dreyfus, musician
  • Thomas Eisner, violinist
  • Omar El Khairy, writer
  • Nancy Elan, violinist
  • Inua Ellams, poet, playwright
  • Brian Eno, musician
  • Kodwo Eshun, writer, filmmaker
  • Gareth Evans, writer, curator
  • Adam Foulds, writer
  • Peter Gabriel, musician
  • Judy Granville, musician
  • Trevor Griffiths, playwright
  • Rahila Gupta, playwright
  • Omar Robert Hamilton, writer
  • Rachel Holmes, writer
  • Tom Hammond, conductor
  • Matthew Herbert, musician
  • Gemma Jackson, production designer
  • Vanessa Jackson, artist
  • Brigid Keenan, writer
  • Peter Kennard, artist
  • A. L. Kennedy, writer
  • Hannah Khalil, playwright
  • Paul Laverty, screenwriter
  • Mike Leigh, screenwriter, director
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Sabrina Mahfouz, playwright
  • Jamal Mahjoub, writer
  • Kika Markham, actor
  • Grant Marshall, Massive Attack
  • Pauline Melville, writer, actor
  • Roy Mowatt, violinist
  • Courttia Newland, writer
  • Jonathan Ofir, conductor, violinist
  • Nii A Parkes, writer
  • Ruth Padel, poet
  • , actor
  • Joceyn Pook, composer
  • Phillip Pullman, author
  • Siobhan Redmond, actor
  • David Roger, production designer
  • Bruce Robbins, writer
  • Jacqueline Rose, writer
  • Leila Sansour, filmmaker
  • Tai Shani, artist
  • Thomas Sleigh, poet, writer
  • Gillian Slovo, writer
  • Ahdaf Soueif, writer
  • Sarah Streatfeild, violinist
  • Tom Suarez, violinist
  • Jacques Testard, publisher
  • Harriet Walter, actor
  • Hilary Westlake, performance director
  • Penny Woolcock, screenwriter, director
  • Benjamin Zephaniah, writer, dub poet

Naturally, these largely has-beens and never-weres are not telling you the full truth. The center directors were not arrested, as they claim, as ‘part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions’ by the Israeli government.’ Nor as Eno alleges ‘to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture.’ They were arrested and then released as part of an investigation into serious charges: tax evasion and fraud and even possibly money laundering and terror financing.

Israeli police released two prominent Palestinian cultural leaders on Wednesday hours after arresting them in east Jerusalem, police and one of their lawyers said.

Rania Elias, who heads the Yabous Cultural Center, and her husband, Suhail Khoury, director general of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, were detained in their home in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood.

They were released on Wednesday evening “under conditions,” Elias’s lawyer Nasir Odeh told AFP, without giving further details.

The Yabous center and the conservatory were also raided by police and Israeli tax investigators, with documents confiscated.

Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that police, with tax authorities, detained “three suspects… in connection with tax evasion and fraud,” without mentioning the individuals by name.

It confirmed the searches “at two organizations that were run in East Jerusalem, claiming that they were involved in Palestinian culture.”

Rosenfeld said the individuals were being questioned and the investigation was ongoing.

His statement made no mention of terror-related offenses.

But documents sent to AFP by a conservatory official, presented by police at the time of the search, reference “suspicion of money laundering [and] funding terror.”

What I just posted was easily found just by searching the news. It was available weeks ago, well before this mob signed the letter. The fact that they went ahead anyway to misrepresent what happened and condemn Israel, while promoting BDS, speaks volumes as to their moral depravity and dishonesty.

Hat tip: Michal


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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