Statement for a boycott of the Zionist ‘oud festival’ in occupied Jerusalem

Statement for a boycott of the Zionist ‘oud festival’ in occupied Jerusalem

Musicians in support of Palestine are invited to add your name to the statement below in calling for a total boycott of the Israeli “Oud Festival” in occupied Jerusalem. To add your name to the statement, please use the form below or email or

Statement for a boycott of the Zionist ‘oud festival’ in occupied Jerusalem

We the undersigned group of Palestinian and international musicians call for a total boycott of Israel’s now annual ‘oud festival’ in occupied Jerusalem and stand against normalisation with a regime aiming to colonise Palestine’s capital in its entirety.

The oud, as the quintessential stringed instrument of Palestinian and Arab world music culture, is being appropriated by a Zionist state whose history is based on the erasure and theft of indigenous livelihoods. As the Israeli ‘Jerusalem Municipality’ re-launches its musical PR projects with the easing of certain coronavirus restrictions, Palestinians in Jerusalem are fighting tooth and nail against the accelerating land-grab of Sheikh Jarrah and swathes of the land east of their city. Palestinian performing artists are attacked or imprisoned, while broader communities of the displaced face the terror of aerial destruction of their cultural centres and systematic underdevelopment of their means of production.

The ‘oud festival’ signifies the culture-washing of the crimes of Israeli colonisation. As such we stand against all Palestinian and international participation. With very few exceptions, the festival organisers have failed abjectly in recruiting Palestinian and Arab musicians to collude in a humiliating display of Israeli-dictated ‘coexistence.’ This reflects the grassroots opposition of Palestine’s rejectionist artists, distinct from the elite displays of treachery seen at Dubai Expo and other platforms of Zionist and Arab capitalist collaboration. We must build on the revolutionary potential of Palestinian musicians’ anti-normalisation commitment and expose to the world the Zionist political roots of these cultural phenomena.

Live events at the festival are convened by Haim Gouri Zionist Confederation House, founded upon Jerusalem’s colonial conquest and named after a former member of the Palmach, which carried out 1948 massacres including at Sa’sa’ and al-Dawamiya. Since its foundation, the festival has been sponsored by Zionist mayors, who play a particular role in boosting its presence. Current rightist mayor Moshe Lion claimed in 2019 that the festival was a way of ‘establishing dialogue,’ while simultaneously supporting the US Trump administration’s moving of its embassy to Jerusalem as ‘the only fitting location for embassies in the state of Israel.’ In May 2021 he described the Zionist colonisation of Sheikh Jarrah as a ‘property dispute’ and blamed Palestinians for ‘igniting violence.’ As we write this statement, Israeli courts are attempting to force Sheikh Jarrah families into accepting ‘temporary ownership’ of their homes by a Zionist settler organisation.

Israel’s seemingly impulsive massacres upon Palestinians in Gaza and its operations across historic Palestine carry the constant threat of cultural obliteration, like the May 2021 destruction of Mashariq studio in Ansar or the August 2018 bombing of the Said al-Mashal theatre. In occupied Jerusalem, Sabreen studios and the Hakawati theatre face existential threats due to Zionisation of the city. Performers like orchestral bassist Mariam Afifi and al-Funoun choreographer Atta Khattab have faced the prison cells of the Zionist attack squads.

In the face of these crimes, and in the hands of those who struggle, the oud becomes a tool of anti-racist, anti-colonial liberation. Revolutionary protest singers from Jerusalemite Palestinian Mustafa al-Kurd to Egypt’s Sheikh Imam have resounded their oud for Palestine. Calling for a boycott of the Zionist ‘oud festival’ means a defence of indigenous expression, a stand against normalisation and intensifying the boycott and isolation of the Zionist state.


    Tareq Abboushi, buzuq player and educator, Palestine
    Osloob Abdelrahman, rapper, Yafa/France
    Sama’ Abdulhadi, DJ, Palestine
    Ayman Abou Abdou, oud, Gaza
    Suma Abu Ali, nai player, Gaza
    Kinan Abuakel, buzuq, Syria
    Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, musician and producer, Palestine/Egypt
    Mohamed Abulyada, oud, Gaza/Germany
    Abdelaziz Abusharik, qanoun, Gaza/Ireland
    Hadeel Abu Sharr, vocalist, Gaza/Egypt
    Fadi Abu Yaseen, oud and keyboard player, Gaza
    Moneim Adwan, composer and musician, Gaza/France
    Mariam Afifi, contrabass, Ramallah
    Fida’ Alshaer, oud, occupied Golan, Syria
    Fares Anbar, percussionist, Gaza/Turkey
    Reem Anbar, oud, Gaza/Britain
    Samer Asakli, oud, Haifa
    Emile Ashrawi, songwriter and artist, Ramallah
    Rola Azar, vocalist, Nazareth
    Nai Barghouti, vocalist and flute player, Palestine/Holland
    Clarissa Bitar, oud player and composer, Palestine/USA
    Issa Boulos, composer and music scholar, Palestine/USA
    Louis Brehony, musician and scholar, Ireland/Britain
    Layale Chaker, violinist and composer, Lebanon/USA
    Bobbi Connolly, guitarist, Wales/Ireland
    Darbet Shams band, Haifa
    Nur Darwish, vocalist, Palestine
    Haifaa Farajalla, vocalist, Gaza
    Gazelleband, Gaza/Britain
    Mohammad Al-Habbash, oud, Gaza
    Mariam Haidar, oud, Haifa
    Ziad Hbouss, bagpiper, Palestine/Lebanon
    Kamilya Jubran, musician and composer, Galilee/France
    Khaled Jubran, composer and music educator, Galilee
    Ahmad Al Khatib, composer and oud player, Palestine/Sweden
    Sam Khattar, musician, Lebanon/USA
    John King, composer/guitarist/oudist, USA
    Kofia band, Palestine/Sweden
    Ayman Mghamis, rapper, Gaza
    William Nassar, songwriter, Lebanon
    Raneen Okasha, vocalist, Gaza
    Rawan Okasha, vocalist, Gaza
    Ahmed Qrinawi, oud, Gaza/Tunisia
    RENU, electronic music composer, Germany/Britain
    Saba Band, Palestine/Syria/Sweden
    Hussain Sabsaby, oud, Syria
    Mohammed Sabsaby, oud, Syria
    Arian Sadr, percussionist, Iran/Britain
    Yara Salahiddeen, vocalist, Palestine/Egypt/Britain
    Kareem Samara, oud, Palestine/Britain
    Haider Sandouk, oud, Iraq/Britain
    Heike Schotten, professor, US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, USA
    Ahmad Tamari, percussionist, Palestine/Sweden
    George Totari, songwriter, Nazareth/Sweden
    Amal Waqar, oud, Oman/USA

To add your name to the statement, use the form below or please email or

Sign on to Oud Festival Boycott Statement


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