The Jewish Music Institute (JMI) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a college of the University of London, turned down a grant from the British Israeli Arts Training Scheme following intense pressure by pro-Palestinian groups calling to boycott Israel.
According to the London-based Jewish Chronicle, Campaigners from British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) and the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) declared "victory" after the organizers of an Israeli music conference at SOAS assured them that the event, which is scheduled for next week, would have no Israeli government funding.
The pro-Palestinian groups threatened to picket “Arts Music of Israel” if it accepted any support from Israel. After rejecting the £1,500 ($2,400) grant from BI-ARTS, the organizers said they did not want political connections with the conference, the Chronicle reported.
JMI director Geraldine Auerbach was quoted by the Chronicle as saying no money had been received from the Israeli government.
BRICUP also claim Auerbach told them that the event would no longer be promoted via the Israeli embassy, according to the Chronicle.
“I was contacted by those who planned to disrupt the conference and I told them the situation. We did not enter into any negotiations with them, we did not have discussions," Auerbach was quoted by the Chronicle as saying. "This was a decision we reached independently and has no bearing on any future decision we might take over funding from Israel. That will be decided depending on the circumstances."
However, the Chronicle reported, pro-Palestinian groups said they still plan to hand out leaflets outside the conference, claiming it would be “impossible” to hold a conference on Palestinian music.
An Israeli embassy spokesman was quoted by the Chronicle as saying: "The Israeli Embassy is happy to support cultural events and Israeli arts, and will gladly continue to do so in the future.
"Art is made to build bridges and to help sustain an essential dialogue. "It is disturbing to see that the certain bodies have succumbed to pressures from external organizations whose sole purpose is to prevent that dialogue. Not only that, but to cooperate with them and to brusquely attach a much needed financial support for artists to political agenda is unhelpful," he said.
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