Egypt media collective Mosireen boycotts Creative Time Summit 2012 over Israel partnership

Mosireen, an Egyptian media collective, has rejected an invitation to participate in the Creative Time Summit 2012, because of the summit’s “in-depth” partnership with an institution funded by the Israeli government.

On its website, Mosireen describes itself as a “non-profit media collective in Downtown Cairo born out of the explosion of citizen media and cultural activism in Egypt during the revolution.” The name Mosireen means “we are determined” in Arabic.

The Creative Time Summit, a festival of public art, speeches and forums, which runs on 12-13 October in New York City, lists numerous partners around the world, however, the Israeli Center for Digital Arts is only one of a handful of “in-depth partners” that includes the California College of Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Among the Creative Time Summit’s funders are the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the state of New York, the Ford Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Respecting Palestinian boycott call

In a statement setting out its reasons, Mosireen explained:

It has recently come to our attention that the Creative Time Summit has listed the Israeli Center for Digital Art (ICDA) as an “in-depth partner” for this year’s summit. After discovering this, we cannot in good faith participate in the 2012 Creative Time Summit in adherence to the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched by Palestinian civil society in 2004, and our own conscience as a political collective based on principles of social justice, equality, anti-racism and anti-Zionism.

Mosireen said that working with ICDA as a partner contradicts the Creative Time Summit’s claim:

to be a response to “a growing community of cultural practitioners working in the realm of social justice and socially engaged art practice” and exploring “the impact of wealth inequity across the globe as it engenders totalitarianism and undermines democracy.”

The Create Time Summit 2012 is ironically subtitled, “Confronting Inquity.” As Mosireen points out, ICDA is financed by the Israeli government:

However, to say all these things and then include an Israeli organization which is funded by the Israeli Government as a ‘major partner’ seems a gross contradiction of these stated values, if not outright hypocrisy. The ICDA makes clear on their website that they receive support from both the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport and the City of Holon, both governmental bodies.

Equating oppressor and oppressed

The Mosireen statement specifically criticized previous work by ICDA which Mosireen views as falsely equating the conditions of Israelis and Palestinians:

The presentation of the colonization of Palestine as being an issue of—or the apparent absence of—’dialogue’ and ‘communication’ is a fallacy used to disguise the continuing ethnic cleansing of a people. The ICDA, therefore, is at best complicit in and at worst supportive of the occupation, disposession and continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Calls for balance and bilateralism do not change this, they only serve to mask it.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls on civil society to boycott events with Israeli institutions because, among other things, such events serve to whitewash Israel’s crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinians.