Artists to Oscars: ‘Give your Israeli swag bag to a Palestinian refugee’

 Artists for Palestine UK appeals to actors and directors on Oscars shortlist: ‘Give your Israeli swag bag to a Palestinian refugee!’

APUK/ London/

Already mired in controversy over the lack of non-white nominees for this year’s ceremony, the Oscars goody-bag is now being used to whitewash Israeli apartheid.

The so-called ‘swag bag’, put together by Los Angeles firm Distinctive Assets, includes a $55,000 worth five-star Israeli government funded luxury trip to Israel for every nominee in the main acting and directing categories.

Any Oscar nominee taking up the offer will find themselves working as an unpaid stooge in an extended 10-day photo opportunity on behalf of a government that breaks international law, violates human rights and has been credibly accused of war crimes.

Oscar nominees Mark Rylance and Asif Kapadia have already promised not to visit Israel professionally. Their pledge, along with those of a thousand UK artists and performers, was launched in February 2015.

Rather than whitewash Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians, Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) is appealing to the stars and directors on the Academy Awards shortlist to donate Israel’s holiday vouchers to Palestinian refugees, who are denied the right to return to their country.

More than 750,000 Palestinians were systematically ethnically cleansed and made refugees during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Israel has denied their UN-stipulated right to return to their homes of origin for nearly seven decades.

The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), The Palestinian Performing Arts Network (PPAN), organisations and individuals that represent the majority of the Palestinian cultural sector, has called on Oscar nominees to reject the trip sponsored by the Israeli government included in this year’s Academy gift bag.

PPAN’s members include The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Ramallah and Gaza, and The Freedom Theatre, Jenin refugee camp.

Click here to view the full list of signatories to the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine

Artists for Palestine UK is a growing network of artists, cultural workers and activists who want to make a stand in support of justice and equality for the Palestinians. APUK believes that Israel’s campaign to exploit culture as a diplomatic weapon, the ‘Brand Israel’ strategy, requires an urgent riposte from artists of conscience. We set out the arguments for an appropriate ethical and political response in our booklet, The Case for a Cultural Boycott of Israel