Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes today's decision by the prestigious Stills Gallery to terminate the Israeli Embassy's sponsorship of their forthcomng photography exhibition, A Thousand of Him, Scattered: Relative Newcomers in Diaspora. The Gallery has returned the Israeli Embassy's £1,300 sponsorship money and removed the Embassy's logo and name from the list of sponsors.
The confirmation of the decision came today in a call to SPSC from a Stills Gallery official, following a phone call and email from SPSC to the Stills Gallery in which we confirmed plans to crank up a letter writing campaign to the Gallery and the other sponsors and, if necessary, to mount a sustained protest against Israeli Government involvement every day of the three-month run of the exhibition in the heart of Scotland's capital.
Two artists who had been invited to contribute to the event refused to allow their work to be included as long as the Israeli Embassy was allowed to be a sponsor. Richard Fung from Toronto and John Akomfrah from London took the lead in this effort and the walls were at least seriously weakened or even already collapsing before SPSC charged at the Israeli Embassy sponsorship of the Stills Gallery event.
It would have been unthinkable to ignore the Israeli Government co-sponsoring an event with Amnesty and Freedom from Torture, when Amnesty International has reported that "Palestinians under interrogation were systematically tortured" and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel reports that many "Palestinian detainees died under mysterious circumstances while in interrogation".
An aroused public opinion could not ignore an event co-sponsored by the Israeli Embassy and Refugee Week Scotland 2014, when Palestinians from Aida Camp in Bethlehem who participated in Refugee Week Scotland 2013 are currently detained and being tortured by Israeli forces. We are gravely concerned about the kidnap and torture by Israeli occupation forces of one of these cultural activists from Aida Camp's Lajee Cultural Centre whom we hosted last year, Mohammed Al Azraq. And many others illegally detained and "systematically tortured" in the Israeli gulag.
Public anger in Scotland has twice already (2006 and 2009) forced the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return Israeli Embassy sponsorship money, admitting that to accept it had been "a mistake".