More than 45 high-level entertainment industry executives have signed a letter denouncing the “hypocritical, discriminatory, and dangerous” Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, after activists associated with the movement demanded that Lincoln Center cancel an Israeli play.
The executives, all members of Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), include: Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group; Rick Krim, west coast president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing; David Renzer, chairman of Spirit Music Group; Rick Rosen, head of the television department at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME); Ben Silverman, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Propagate Content; and Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and music president of Electronic Arts, among others.
“Selectively silencing art is dangerous,” they wrote in the letter. “Art unites us, and helps us get past what makes us different while connecting us at the core of what makes us similar. We — and especially Israelis and Palestinians, who require being brought together more than anything — need more of it, not less.”
See the full letter and list of signatories below.
Dear Ms. Farley and Ms. Spar,
We at Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) applaud you for your principled stand in support of the arts. In the face of attacks by anti-Israel groups calling on Lincoln Center — one of the world’s foremost performing arts centers — to cancel the performance of the Israeli play “To the End of the Land,” you stood strong.
As an organization comprised of prominent members of the entertainment industry who believe in the power of the arts as a means to help build bridges towards peace, support artistic freedom, and counter the cultural boycott of Israel, we find the selective and politically motivated boycott directed at Israeli funding of the arts to be hypocritical, discriminatory, and dangerous to the arts and artists worldwide.
As we know, government support is crucial for the arts. Just this month, in fact, there are at least three other events at Lincoln Center that include support from governments around the world:
The film “Birdshot” — funded by the Doha Film Institute, a Qatari organization headed by the ruling Al Thani family — was screened there on July 6.
From July 3-8, the American Ballet Theatre — funded by the US federal government together with the governments of New York City and New York State — is performing its “Tchaikovsky Spectacular.”
And from July 26-30, the Bolshoi Ballet — which lists as its partners two Russian government news agencies — will perform “The Taming of the Shrew.”
While some of us at CCFP (and perhaps even at Lincoln Center) may disagree with various actions of these governments, we can all agree that punishing artists from these countries by shunning them for receiving crucial funding from their governments is not the answer. Depriving audiences of their work, their perspectives, and their contributions to culture around the world is imprudent.
Punishing artists from only one of these countries — as the signatories of open letter are attempting with Israel — is both imprudent and discriminatory.
In their letter asking you to punish Israeli artists, the signatories painted a very black and white picture of Israel — the only true democracy in the Middle East, where all people regardless of race, religion, or gender have full political and civil rights — ignoring the many shades of gray in its supremely complex and tragically ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
They wrongfully accuse Israel of being a colonial, apartheid state, by using the type of emotionally charged and dishonest language which only serves to trigger further hostility and dampen hope for rational discourse, pushing peace further away.
They degraded Israeli artists, portraying them as no more than a tool used by the Israeli government to cover up its alleged crimes.
They demonized Israel, trying to make a sinister conspiracy out of Israel funding its artists, despite the fact that nearly every country on earth — from the freest democracy to the most oppressive dictatorship — does the same.
Again, we applaud you for standing firm in your support of the arts. If we had allowed their brazen efforts to single out Israeli artists for a politically motivated boycott to succeed today, who might have been the target tomorrow?
Selectively silencing art is dangerous. Art unites us, and helps us get past what makes us different while connecting us at the core of what makes us similar. We — and especially Israelis and Palestinians, who require being brought together more than anything — need more of it, not less.
We hope our colleagues who signed the boycott letter will follow your example and reconsider their support for this divisive movement. Instead we hope they will join us in ensuring that our industry is not used as a political tool of hatred and persecution based on misinformation and one sided biases.
Jason Adelman, former vp of strategic partnerships at Relativity Media;
Orly Adelson, former president of ITV Studios, America;
Craig Balsam, co-founder of Razor & Tie Entertainment;
Richard Baskind, partner and head of music at Simons Muirhead & Burton;
Aton Ben-Horin, global vice president of A&R at Warner Music Group;
Steven Bensusan, president of Blue Note Entertainment Group;
Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA);
Joshua P. Binder, partner at Davis Shapiro & Lewit et al.;
David Byrnes, partner of Ziffren, Brittenham, LLP;
Civia Caroline, president of Clic Entertainment;
Josh Deutsch, chairman/CEO of Downtown Records;
David Draiman, musician and frontman of Disturbed;
Craig Emanuel, partner of Loeb & Loeb LLP;
Ron Fair, record producer and former chief creative officer and executive vp of Virgin America;
Erica Forster, vp of Music Partnerships, DanceOn;
Gary Foster, principal of Krasnoff Foster Productions;
Daryl Friedman, chief advocacy and industry relations officer of The Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on the Hill;
Daniel Glass, president and founder of Glassnote Entertainment Group;
Andrew Genger, Red Light Management;
Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group;
Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications of Time Warner Inc.;
David Glick, founder and CEO of Edge Group;
Trudy Green, Trudy Green Management/HK Management;
Neil Jacobson, president of Geffen Records;
Zach Katz, president repertoire & marketing, U.S., BMG;
Amanda Kogan, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME);
Rick Krim, west coast president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing;
Colin Lester, CEO of JEM Artists;
David Levy, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME);
David Lonner, CEO of Oasis Media Group;
Ben Maddahi, president of Unrestricted;
Scott Packman, Esq.;
Donald S. Passman, partner of Gang, Tyre, Ramer, and Brown, Inc.;
Dean Raise, C3 Presents;
David Renzer, chairman of Spirit Music Group and former chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group;
Hanna Rochelle, founder and president of Lyric Culture;
Rick Rosen, head of the television department at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME);
Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and music president of Electronic Arts;
Sam Schwartz, co-principal of Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency;
Ben Silverman, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Propagate Content;
Ralph Simon, chairman & chief executive officer of Mobilium Global Limited,
Jeff Sosnow, svp of a&r at Warner Music Group;
Gary Stiffelman, partner of Greenberg Traurig LLP;
Aaron Symonds, film composer;
Traci Szymanski, president of Co-Star Entertainment/Isrealife Media Group;
Adam Taylor, president of APM Music;
Sharon Tal Yguado, head of event series at Amazon.
Please note that all organizations are listed for affiliation only.