Kultureller BoykottOffene Briefe

Open letter to Steffen Zillig – art Das Kunstmagazin

Open letter to Steffen Zillig,

Thank you, Mr. Zillig, for finding it useful, even necessary, to respond to the boycott call by “Artists for Palestine UK” on the website art – Das Kunstmagazin.

Finally, so we thought, the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions, and specifically the call for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel has been noted in the artistic circles of Germany.

Alas, this was obviously not your intention, because it is clear that you do not see the call by “Artists for Palestine UK” in this context. It should even be assumed that you do not know about these calls.

You write that it was “otherwise difficult to explain” why the “Artists for Palestine UK” call for a cultural boycott of Israel [was issued]. The motivation behind it could only be [seeking] “blind applause” and “acclaim“, which “only conceals their own political cluelessness“.

We ask ourselves seriously who is clueless here. Over 1000 artists in the UK, coming to a conclusion, after intense discussion and debate regarding the call by Palestinian civil society, and finally responding publicly to this call in a joint action, thereby supporting Palestinian civil society, or you, Mr. Zillig.

You write of “self-righteousness“, “historical amnesia” and the authors  [of the statement] “who were not even aware of their own bias“,  and you allege that “Artists for Palestine UK” apply devious methods of reasoning. You write that their boycott is “at best one-sided and simplistic, or worse – that [the worldview behind the boycott] ignores a number of historical facts, not least anti-Semitism and its role within the Middle East conflict – unfortunately serving [anti-Semitism] itself.

These are serious allegations.

Anyone who comes to a conclusion like this and reaches such a judgment, should at least make the effort to ask about the motivation, and take into account the political background of the call. A request to “Artists for Palestine UK” would have been very helpful and informative for you. You would have learned then about the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004 and the lack of any consequence, which led to the call of Palestinian civil society and the international BDS campaign. You would have learned about the great global support [for the campaign] and its numerous successes. You would have learned about the state which supports in the call by Palestinian civil society more firmly than any other country in the world, South Africa.

But you did not know all that, and you have wasted this opportunity before you sat down and wrote this article, full of accusations and insinuations.

We from BDS Berlin are in close contact with these artists and activists from the UK, and have known some of them personally for many years in our joint solidarity campaign. Your article has caused dismay among them, not only about the way in which you spread allegations and defamation, but also about the low level of journalism and the lack of knowledge regarding the international BDS campaign, in which they are engaged.

We are sure that after thorough research on the calls from Palestine and numerous additional explanations by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), as well as the Boycott National Committee (BNC) from the past 10 years,  which you can follow on their websites and ours, you will recant your accusations.

We therefore implore you to make contact with “Artists for Palestine UK”. We also implore you to write a new presentation of the initiative by “Artists for Palestine UK”.

Yours sincerely,

BDS Berlin

March 6, 2015



Auf ihrer Facebook-Seite schreiben die Artists for Palestine UK am 17. März 2015:

“Das Kunstmagazin has decided not to publish our response to their vitriolic piece, so we have posted it on our website, including a translation of the original German article.”