One of the acts expected to showcase at the Hilton Arts Festival, which begins today, has pulled out of the event in support of a pro-Palestinian boycott call.

Iain “Ewok” Robinson, the Durban-based hip hop performer and graffiti artist, has joined the protest and cancelled his performance Rapped In Truth, scheduled for tomorrow at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival.

In a letter written to the festival’s organisers, Robinson said he had signed a declaration made by the SA Artists Against Apartheid in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the “apartheid Israeli government”.
“I cannot willingly participate in any event that enjoys the support and patronage of the Israeli government in any form. I believe that this is an endorsement of the criminal acts of oppression and human rights abuses consistently perpetrated by this entity against the Palestinian people,” he said.

Robinson said it had not been his intention to pull out at such a late stage but, after being contacted by “various Palestinian solidarity organisations”, he had realised that his conscience would not let him perform at the festival.

“I feel it is my responsibility as a South African who enjoys the democratic rights that were fought for so valiantly by my parents’ generation of anti-apartheid activists, to participate in similar (action).”

“Freedom for Palestine is freedom for us all.”

The organisers of the festival have maintained their stance that they will go ahead with the staging of the three Israeli plays – The Timekeepers, Volunteer Man and My First Sony.
Yesterday the Israeli embassy commended the organisers of the Hilton Arts Festival.

Ya’akov Finkelstein, deputy chief of mission of the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, said: “Israel supports full and open cultural exchanges with all peoples. Art and culture are often the only direct means for people in one society to come to know and appreciate the humanity of those from another society “. He commended the organisers of the festival for giving “full and unapologetic expression” to this truth.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) supported the boycott.

“We fully… support the statement by the Media Review Network as well as the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective,” it said.

DAILY NEWS: 16 September 2011