The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has implored Egyptian vernacular poet, Hisham El-Gakh, to cancel his poetry evening that is expected to be held in Nazareth, in the occupied Palestinian territories on Wednesday, 11 February.
The reason given by PACBI is that "regardless of his intentions, his decision to participate violates the rules of boycotting Israel and is considered a normalisation with the occupying force."
The PACBI explained that for El-Gakh to enter Nazareth, which is the stronghold of 1948 Arabs, requires permission from the Egyptian and the Israeli authorities and would be according to the "Shameful Camp David Treaty", the thing that it considers a violation of the anti-normalisation rules.
The movement which is part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), said that in the past few days many Egyptian and Palestinian institutions and organisations urged EL-Gakh to reverse his decision though he never responded to it.
"We have tried to implore Mr. El-Gakh to change his mind on this matter, yet our attempts weren't met with a serious response. We don’t doubt the national and patriotic feelings and stances of El-Gakh, who aims to promote and support the Palestinian cause, but visiting the imprisoned with a permission enthralls the normalisation of the relationship between our beloved Egypt and the occupation force and leads in the end to sustain and preserve the racial imperialistic reality imposed on the imprisoned by the coloniser."
The movement also expressed its deep concern over what it called "the repeated visits by Arab artists and intellectuals which violate the standards of anti-normalisation," under the pretext of "communicating with the Palestinians from inside," which is seen as a move that justifies the normalisation of the relationship with Israel.
"We hope that Mr. El-Gakh does not allow his name to be used in this normalisation tendency that some are taking," the movement said.
"The violations by Arab figures of the rules of boycotting Israel would only undermine the BDS movement against Israel globally and locally, and weaken the efforts against normalisation led by the public and non-governmental organisations in the Arab world," the movement said. It also warned that the Israeli forces are using these…visits to weaken the BDS movement under the slogan of "don't be Arabs more than Arabs".
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals joining the growing international boycott movement. The campaign built on the Palestinian call for a comprehensive economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel issued in August 2002 and a statement made by Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the occupied territories as well as the diaspora's desire for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in October 2003.