Filmmaker Barbara Hammer pulls out of Israeli fellowship

The following piece was published on Mondoweiss on July 5, 2011:

The groundbreaking experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer has announced that she will refuse an artistic fellowship at the newly created American Academy in Jerusalem. Although the Forward is reporting that she “dropped out of the program yesterday for personal reasons,” her actual reasons are decidedly more political.

Here is an email that was shared with us where Hammer explains her decision:

From: Barbara Hammer
Date: July 5, 2011 10:40:19 AM EDT
Subject: Letter of Declension to the Foundation for Jewish Culture and the American Academy in Jerusalem

July 5, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

After much deliberation, I have turned down the Fellowship offered me by the Foundation for Jewish Culture to attend the first American Academy in Jerusalem from October 23-December 23, 2011.

I stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. Although I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not endorse all their claims, I do oppose the occupation and do not want to normalize it. I accept and exercise my social responsibility as an artist not to lend legitimacy to the State of Israel as long as it continues the occupation.

My conscience will not allow me either to participate in programs funded by the current Israeli government at this point in time, or to show my films at venues that receive funding from that government. I stand in support of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who believe in justice for all, equal representation, and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian peoples. It is the least I can do. The most is yet to be seen.

Barbara Hammer
Film Director
New York, New York


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