Friday, December 18, 2009

Choir of Clare College and the PACBI: The Background

The Choir of Clare College at Oxford University, a distinguished ensemble in a prestigious institute of higher learning, will be exercising their freedom of religion and expression in Israel this December. They have been selected to perform Bach’s touching Christmas Oratorio at the Church of the Nativity in Israel as part of a Christmas celebration. They will also be performing in Tel Aviv, the area that many consider to be Israel’s Soho, Haifa, an ethnically diverse port town where Arab and Jewish Israelis live peacefully together fueled by coffee shops and poetry readings and in the ancient city of Jerusalem.

The Choir of Clare College is a respected choral group who lead services three times a week at the University’s chapel. They are known both for their highly respected and emotive musicianship as well as for their commitment to the ideals of the Chapel and their sense of morality and religious tolerance.

Last month, a group that appears unwilling to accept the principles of morality, tolerance and freedoms and seemingly opposed to the arts described above have attempted to prevent the Choir from participating in this beautiful, religious and artistic ceremony. The group calls themselves the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). PACBI published an open letter to the Choir of Clare College at Oxford University demanding they cancel their planned religious celebration.

PACBI is the same organization that protested Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel. They are the same organization that have effectively attempted to annihilate arts and culture within and emanating from Israel.

Artists 4 Israel, a community of creative individuals working together in on-going, collaborative projects expressing Israel’s right to exist take great offense to the censoring and threatening actions of PACBI. As an arts group, we demand that all art be treated with respect and allowed free and unfettered access to expression. As an Israel advocacy organization, we are once again dismayed by the activities of her neighbors and enemies thay seek to prevent dialogue and communication. Only when PACBI begins to practice the free and unconditional support of the arts, as is practiced in Israel, will there be hope for peace.

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