Since 1930 Equity has undertaken international solidarity work to advance the cause of the trade union movement, and in the interests of artists facing oppression. Our longstanding involvement in the Middle East dates back almost 40 years, and the events of recent months have demanded that we engage in as practical a way as possible to the threats faced by artists and working people in Israel and Palestine.
Equity is gravely concerned at the impact that the conflict is having on artists and activists in the United Kingdom. Attempts to restrict the right to peacefully protest strike at the core of a functioning democracy; arts and entertainment can only flourish where there is freedom of expression which respects the dignity of all working people. It is unacceptable to see marches for peace labelled as ‘hate marches’, and unacceptable to see artists frightened of censorship for expressing opinions on the conflict which are rooted in peace, justice and dignity.
Equity encourages any members who are worried about blacklisting or censorship to speak to their union for support and advice.
The conflict continues to have a substantial impact on our members from Arab, Jewish, and Muslim backgrounds in the UK in particular. We stand full square against antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia and racism of any form, and encourage members who face such issues in the workplace to contact their union. The actions of the Israeli state or Hamas cannot be used to stoke fires of hate, silence peaceful dissent, or divide communities anywhere in our country.
We again send our solidarity to Israeli artists and trades unionists who are standing for justice in the Middle East, and a lasting peace. We repeat their demands for hostages held by Hamas to be freed and returned to their families and communities. Using civilians as pawns or festivals as places of violence cannot be excused.
We send our solidarity to Palestinian artists suffering in the horrendous conditions created by Israeli bombing, occupation, and apartheid. Our sister organisation, Alrowwad is based in the West Bank but they have been touched by tragedy from this crisis, and are suffering from increased military activity in the West Bank. We have allocated £5,000 of union funds for Alrowwad to support the running of their guest house, an arts centre which has been an invaluable place of sanctuary over recent weeks.
The deaths of youth participants from the Freedom Theatre in Jenin shows the indiscriminate nature of the ongoing Israeli occupation and military activity even in the West Bank, and we send them our solidarity with no equivocation.
It is clear that a mere humanitarian pause will only delay more bloodshed. It is clear that a lasting ceasefire is the only way to see hostages returned safely from the hands of Hamas, and stop the deaths of innocent Palestinians. We call on the UK government, and British politicians of all sides to stand up against genocide, and focus on getting hostages home, not the punishment of civilians. We demand that the UK government calls for an immediate ceasefire.
To all artists: good work. To all workers: good art. To all people: Equity.
You can read more about Equity’s international work here.