Israeli cultural activities are part of the process of empowering settlers and encouraging them to remain in and expand illegal settlements at the expense of the Palestinian presence, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.
In a report published recently, the ministry said that every cultural act is used to establish settlement propaganda based on denying the Palestinian existence and justifying the operations of confiscating land, expelling Palestinians from their homeland, and establishing settlements.
“Promoting cultural activities in the settlements is part of the Israeli right wing’s tendency to impose Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, and thus undermine achieving the two-state solution,” said the report. “The intention is to deal with the settlements just as is dealt with the towns in the south, north, or on the coast. That is, consider them part of the occupying state, Israel, and receive support as other towns.”
Israel’s Ministry of Culture is considered the spearhead in promoting these processes of imposing sovereignty, and uses its financial resources to achieve this, said the report. Competition is over who is more right-wing and extremist than the others in ‘Israel.’
The report said that Europe needs to review its relations and particularly with the Israeli Ministry of Culture and to stipulate respect for human rights in any relationship with it. “Unfortunately, many countries do not do so, but deepening on their relationship with a ministry, which contributes and supports the flagrant violation of international law,” it added.
The cultural products of the institutions in the settlements are characterized by racism and hatred, and are largely devoid of any humanitarian, ethical and moral content. This is reflected in the aims of these products, their content, and in the way they are promoted, said the report.
Settlement films and music bands are promoted in international festivals without real oversight from the countries in which those festivals are organized.
Cinema and film production in settlements or about life in them has been on the top of Israel’s list of interests in recent years due to the ease of promoting cinema in international festivals.
Although the participation of films produced in the settlements in international festivals is a crime as the content of these films is not monitored, international platforms are provided to broadcast racist propaganda that incites the killing of Palestinians without censorship in what can be considered indirect participation in settler crimes, said the report.
Accordingly, controls must be put in place for such participation, and states have a responsibility to ensure that the festivals organized in their territories are not invited to any group, film producer or production company operating inside the settlements.
“Agreed standards must be developed to ensure that this won’t happen and those who violate such legal safeguards are punished,” it added.
The issue is not limited to cinema and music, said the report, rather it comes to organizing artistic and entertainment festivals in the settlements. European artists are invited to participate in these festivals and thus indirectly express support for settlers’ crimes.
“There is a need to set controls for these participations and to point out that participation in any festival held on confiscated Palestinian land is a contribution to violating international law,” said the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.
Besides, some festivals that are organized by institutions inside Israel hold subsidiary activities or host some of their guests in the settlements, and thus the festival, indirectly, has been partially organized in the settlements without mentioning.
Many companies working in the field of media and culture, some of them with a joint Israeli-European character, operate in the settlements, said the report.
The report concluded by saying that Israel has used all means to deepen its occupation of the Palestinian land and to continue its attacks on the citizens under various pretexts.
“Within this context, culture is used as a means to incite murder, justify crimes, and reinforce and legitimize the motives of settlers. The cultural center, cinema, theater and museums are all military barracks in a different way. This requires a firm stance from the international community in general, in order to prevent the cultural activities from being contaminated and transformed into a criminal act,” it said.
The Palestinian Ministry of Culture called for “a firm stance towards institutions, individuals and cultural goods, and denying them any privileges, or dealing with them in festivals and external events, or participating in any activity organized by them and criminalizing that in accordance with the law.”