Hip hop duo Rebel Diaz cancel Creative Time Summit gig over partnership with Israel group

Updated: 12 October

Hip hop duo Rebel Diaz have canceled their scheduled 12 October performance at the Creative Time Summit 2012 in New York because the event is held in partnership with an Israeli-government funded institution.

The announcement came in a YouTube video released the night before their scheduled show. Rebel Diaz was invited and confirmed to perform but changed their minds after being contacted by “Palestinian comrades.”

“We made the decision not to participate, that we will show solidarity with the Palestinian community,” said the duo’s Rodrigo Venegas, also known as RodStarz.

Rebel Diaz perform in San Francisco in 2008.

Hossam el-Hamalawy Flickr

Gonzalo Venegas – known as G1 – said that Israel, in ways analogous to the Democratic and Republican parties and other establishment forces, “are using hip hop and trying to put on cultural events to make it seem like they’re for the people when in reality they are serving the interests of the neoliberals and imperialists.”

The duo said that the decision came at a financial cost for them, but that their solidarity was more important.

Decision follows Egyptian group’s boycott of Creative Time Summit

Rebel Diaz’s decision to respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) follows a similar decision by Egyptian media collective Mosireen earlier this week to also boycott the Creative Time Summit.

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 (Note: the partner page appears to have been removed, but see the screenshots below).

The Israeli Center for Digital Arts is funded by the Israeli government.

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.

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.

The Narcicyst pulls out of Creative Time Summit Dubai

Following an early version of this post, hip hop artist The Narcicyst (Yassin Alsalman) also pulled out of the Creative Time Summit in Dubai. He explained via Twitter, “I was asked to moderate a panel on ‘occupation.’ I was unaware of the ‘partners’ till this morning. The irony was too much. My decision is based only my support of Palestine and its people, our people, my people. As an Iraqi, I wish people took the same stand for all injustices.”

Alsalman added by email:

I was asked, as a musician who is from a country that was occupied, to moderate the “occupation” panel. As I was on tour, I should have done my research before agreeing but the truth came to me today. I find it painfully ironic and now understand that this summit may serve to further normalize the condition of occupation, amongst other issues, as a talking point and not a reality. This is something I couldn’t stand for. So I stood for Palestine and its good people in solidarity with the BDS movement. Word to Edward Said.

Update: Creative Time Summit “partner” page showing Israeli group removed

In light of the boycott actions mentioned above, by Mosireen and Rebel Diaz, it would appear that the Creative Time Summit has attempted to scrub its website of the evidence of its partnership with Israeli government funded Israeli Center for Digital Art.

Luckily, we kept screenshots. You can see the page as it appeared before, whereas now a click on the link brings up “page not found.”

There is, as of now, still a page on the Creative Time Summit website for the Israeli Center for Digital Arts, but it does not say anything about a partnership.

Thanks to the EI readers who spotted the changes to the website and documented them in the comments section below.




I respect this, but where is any link to this? your link "lists numerous partners " does not work. cannot see any backup tot his to be able to share promote...
also, would make more sense to go there and then blue up the spot with facts about the occupation, the boycott if for performances in israel, this seems like a missed opportunity to speak truth to power up in there, in nyc, rather than duck it. just sayin...


The page listing the "in-depth funders" is no longer online and there is no mention of the Israeli Center for Digital Arts that I can find on Creative Time's website. No visible is only their "featured sponsors" at the base of various pages. The funders listed on the Overview page (http://creativetime.org/summit...) are as follows:

"Lead project support for the 2012 Creative Time Summit is provided by Surdna Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Mark Krueger Charitable Trust, and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. Additional support provided by SAHA Association and Haro Cumbusyan and Bilge Ogut-Cumbusyan."


The linked CTS "partners" page has disappeared. It still can be found in the cache (top link, right side arrow), mentioning the three "in-depth partners" grandly:

The CTS page for partner Israeli Center for Digital Art is still there:

The Israeli Center for Digital Art home site says explicitly they are supported by the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport


The disappeared “Partners” page showed involvement of the ICDA, reason for participants to withdraw. On the deleted page was also a list of 33 partner art institutions worldwide. One of these is “Bezalel, Yaffo 23, Jerusalem, Israel”.

Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is located in Jerusalem. 23 Yaffo, associated with Belalel, is an exhibition, residence and studio location at 23 Yaffa street, West Jerusalem.

As an education institute, Bezalel is connected with the Israeli academic and state organisations. It is cooperating with the Council for Higher Education for recognition of its academic program and degrees. Intense cooperation exists with Hebrew University. It also cooperates with the Jerusalem Development Authority for location issues and dormitories. Bezalel offers residence for students in French Hill, occupied East Jerusalem. Bezalel can offer scholarships for people enlisted with the Ministry of Defense. It accepts foreign students, but no mention is made if or how Palestinians from the occupied territories could apply.

It offers a course called “Bezalel in East Jerusalem”, where “students from Bezalel (…) go to East Jerusalem weekly, where they introduce local youngsters to the fields of fine arts and design through joint activity, for the purpose of creating a joint dialog that exposes and enriches both communities, from both sides of the city”.

Partner Yaffo 23 associates explicitly with Bezalel, acting as promotor of Brand Israel. Bezalel cooperates with Israeli educational, city planning and military institutes. It does not show any position advancing justice for Palestinians. It offers a course for a “joint dialog” between people in East and West Jerusalem as equal parties, balanced and normalising, while the situation is that of occupier-occupied.

Based on this ihe institute (including Yaffo 23) is a target for boycott.


Indeed, the page moved, but note that “partners” were also re-designated now to just being “sites.”