POSTED ON November 7, 2012 BY admin

“Your statement was the foundation of my decision making process. Please continue to work in the way that you do. It serves us all and is the catalyst for further action. Thank you for helping me to stand for what I believe in. Freedom for Palestine is freedom for us all. Peace, stay safe, yours in solidarity,
Iain EWOK Robinson.”

Iain is a Durban-based hip-hop artist. He emailed us after taking the brave decision to pull his gig from the prestigious Hilton Arts Festival.If emancipatory struggle is always both universal and singular, then solidarity is also always possible and concrete1. Over the past years, Church Land Programme (CLP) has spent time with a number of comrades from within the struggle for justice of the Palestinian people when they have visited South Africa. From them we have learned something of the scale and intensity of the oppression they resist – and, with them, we have enabled linking up with concrete struggles here, in both rural and urban-shack situations. That meant we could not stand by idly when the premier elite culture jam in our region, the Hilton Arts Festival, announced they were going to stage three theatre productions with the support of the Israeli state.

Aware of the global call from Palestinian movements themselves for a cultural and academic boycott, we were deeply frustrated that this violation, in our own backyard, seemed to be under-way without public debate, protest or action. With little time left before the Festival, we wondered whether we could create a bit of a ruckus. We hoped we might at least create a platform for further action by for those comrades who have long worked on issues of Palestinian solidarity – and also raise the political costs of breaking the boycott. As it happened, we were about to host an extraordinary group of individuals for a day-long discussion about other matters at CLP – maybe they would sign a statement that could kickstart something? We drafted a short piece; got a powerful list of signatures endorsing it; and released it to the local media and interested comrades. Those who signed the statement were: Prof Steven Friedman, Ayanda Kota, Prof Gillian Hart, Rev Mavuso, Richard Pithouse, Prof Michael Neocosmos, Anne Harley, Zodwa Nsibande , Prof David Szanton, Prof Richard Ballard, as well as CLP Board, staff and associates: Madalitso Ntine; Solomuzi Mabuza; David Ntseng; Graham Philpott; Thulani Ndlazi; David Hallowes; Mercio Langa; Mark Butler; Lindo Dhlamini; Nomusa Sokhela; Zonke Sithole.

By the time the Festival started, one artist, Iain ‘EWOK’ Robinson, had withdrawn on principle; all the major media in the province and beyond had covered the story; and the Festival organisers had been compelled to account publicly and distance themselves from the policies and actions of the state of Israel – bizarrely they also heightened security measures at the Festival, but failed to do the decent thing and pull the productions. In the attached documents you will see (a) the original statement, and (b) some of the amazing work others did taking the issue forward, and some of the media coverage and debate the actions sparked.
1 In CLP’s Padkos No. 2, Finding our Voice in the World, we argued that: “the fundamental truth of a situation emerges in a rupture with the state of things (‘the event’). … That truth is ‘universal’ in the sense that it is valid for everyone everywhere – it is not simply about a local struggle or interest group or stakeholder… [T]he truth of any politics implicates everything in the world …[and everyone, everywhere is] capable of being constituted as subjects of its truth and therefore as militants in fidelity to an event”.

Read the attachment – Hilton Festival Statement

Read the attachment – After the statement was signed…