December 07, 2012

Harjo faces boycott of Israel

Acclaimed feminist author, musician Joy Harjo lands in Tel Aviv to find boycott calls from Native American peers

By Ali AbunimahAcclaimed poet, musician, author and playwright Joy Harjo landed in Tel Aviv today to find appeals from prominent American Indian and indigenous scholars and peers to pull out of a performance at Tel Aviv University scheduled for Monday.

Harjo posted early this morning on her Facebook page that she was boarding a flight to Tel Aviv, which alerted activists and colleagues about her trip.

“Joy is a valued friend and colleague, but I disagree with her decision to go to Tel Aviv to perform. I regret not reaching out to her sooner in this regard, which might have changed her mind,” Robert Warrior, Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told The Electronic Intifada.

Warrior, who is founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, has himself signed on to the call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
And:Given that she was en route to Tel Aviv, Harjo had not responded to an email asking for comment, but soon after landing she posted this message on her Facebook page:I didn’t know about the boycott until it was too late. My trip was posted here for a month. A person made it their campaign to question my integrity and notify others without speaking with me. I am a Mvskoke person living on occupied lands. I am in support of human rights. My music and poetry take me into the world to speak and sing a compassion that is still beyond me. I am learning yet. Mvto cehacares.Harjo would have found, on her arrival, several messages including one from playright Ricardo Bracho, which he shared with The Electronic Intifada.

“Please cancel your Monday night event at Tel Aviv University. Do so to honor indigenous and anti-colonial practice and vision worldwide. Do so because Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison. Do so because Palestinians have no Right of Return to their homelands. Do so for the land, the poets, the grandmothers, the children,” Bracho wrote, concluding his note with a verse from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Under Siege.”
Comment:  With the Israel-Gaza conflict going on, it's a little naive to say you didn't know about the boycott. You could guess that any trip to Israel would be problematical, and investigate whether people would mind. Accepting the invitation without thinking about it is questionable at best.

If Harjo made an informed choice, that would be different. Then we could challenge her motives and she could defend them. But saying "I didn't know" is weak.

For more on the Indian-Palestinian connection, see LaDuke on Gaza:  "We Are Israel" and Parallels Between US and Israel.

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