A long campaign by Women in Black in Los Angeles against the visit of the Israel Philharmonic culminated in the picket of two concerts on February 5 and 6. The Philharmonic, which was performing together with the LA Philharmonic, was the target of a cultural boycott campaign, which activists hoped would emulate the success of boycotts of the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa.
Joining in the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel, the WiB Los Angeles started the campaign to denounce and boycott the Philarmonic after its website openly noted the role in playing for Israel’s soldiers in the field and in celebrating Israel’s military victories. WiB began with a letter to the Israel Philharmonic, endorsed by over 800 individuals and groups, asking them to condemn the Occupation of Palestine. After receiving no response, the group stated: âWe, Women in Black-Los Angeles, request that the Music Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic cancel the performances of the Israel Philharmonic on February 5 and 6, 2007. If you canât cancel the performances, at least, call for an end to the Occupation of Palestine at the beginning of each performance, as a first step toward a viable peaceâ.
When organizers failed to meet the demands of the campaigners, Women in Black resolved to organize a protest in front of the concert hall, endorsed by the ANSWER Coalition, the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid and Middle East Peace Fellowship, Southern California. Big signs held at the front of the hall during the picket ensured Israeli crimes were highlighted and that the cultural boycott was a tool to be used in promoting Palestinian rights. WIB-LA member Greta Berlin stated: “Many of us worked in the anti-Apartheid movement and know how effective the cultural and sports boycotts were.”