We are Jews, We are angry, We stand in solidarity with Subversive Film

We are Jews, We are angry, We stand in solidarity with Subversive Film

EAJS – Een Andere Joodse Stem / Another Jewish Voice
UPJB – Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique

To support the statement: https://linktr.ee/eajs

We, Jews living in Belgium, stand in solidarity with the Brussels-based Palestinian collective Subversive Film and with all of the lumbung community, against the unjust scrutiny and attacks they have been subjected to since documenta fifteen was launched, in particular unfair and misleading accusations of antisemitism.

The inspiring contribution of Subversive Film to the exhibition with Tokyo Reels (among others contributions) are valuable for their historiographic as well as artistic merit, and are of extensive significance.  

We wish to make very clear that Anti-Zionism, as well as critiques of Israeli colonial expansion and militarist violence in violation of international law, are not antisemitic. We reject the use of antisemitism as a cynical tool to silence any legitimate criticism of the injustice that is happening on a daily basis in Israel / Palestine.

We refuse the instrumentalization of antisemitism by European conservative forces attempting to silence and/or discipline the voices and actions of collectives and individuals from the Global South, and to undermine the growing movement of racialized communities in Europe and in the Global South that demands decolonization and justice.

Some of us were born and raised in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe and have experienced antisemitism first hand. Some of us have migrated to Belgium from Israel, where we witnessed first hand the violence of the Israeli state against Palestinians. Together, we declare that we do not support the Jewish conservative organizations or self-declared “antisemitism experts” who took part in this instrumentalization exercise – not in our name! 

We condemn the European and particularly German attempts to deflect guilt for their own historical crimes by projecting responsibility for antisemitism onto people coming from the Global South and people of colour more broadly. This insidious and racialised dynamic casts people of colour and those from the Global South as the root cause of antisemitism, and the German state, alongside white Europeans, as the well-meaning and innocent protectors of Jews from the antisemitic migrant. This narrative conveniently encourages a form of collective amnesia for where the root cause of antisemitism and the Shoah really lie and serve to obscure our true common enemy: the steep rise of the extreme right and white nationalism across the continent – including in Germany. 

We reject the use of the IHRA definition which has been scrutinised and discredited by many antisemitism scholars and Jewish intellectuals due to its conflation of antisemitism with legitimate critique of the State of Israel. Around 350 signatories, including many renowned scholars, have now signed the alternative Jerusalem Declaration, developed in response to the IHRA definition in order to provide “clear guidance to identify and fight antisemitism while protecting free expression” – holding that the IHRA failed to get this balancing act right and has been used far too often to strategically silence critique of Israel and the occupation.

We reject the projection of conceptual and political tools that were developed to fight antisemitism in Europe – the place where antisemitism is historically rooted and further developed with genocidal consequences – on the Global South. Attempts to apply these to the Global South follow in the footsteps of European intellectual imperialism.

We are angry that actual, physical attacks on artists of color who participated in documenta fifteen at the hands of German individuals and groups were minimized and ignored by those who simultaneously placed themselves at the forefront of the fight against antisemitism. Let us be clear, our struggles are interconnected: antisemitism is but one form of racism which must be tackled alongside all forms of racism.

We cherish the anti-colonial movement in the art world, in the academia and in other public arenas, and the necessity of supporting power building and resistance against Western hegemony in the Global South. We welcome any reflection on the role of Europe and the West in the continuous undermining of these efforts.

The generous proposal of ruangrupa and the invited collectives of documenta fifteen is a long overdue shift in the focal point of the art world that we embrace and continue to learn from as this exhibition continues. We are grateful for the immense efforts that are being made daily to ensure that this edition of documenta withstands (with dignity and humility) the smears and attacks it is currently experiencing.

We extend our hand to the communities that have been the target of European colonialism and genocidial enterprises, of European racism and exploitation, of European disciplining and silencing. As indicated in lumbung’s statement, “we are all in this together.” 

Let this be the beginning of true comradery in the face of those who try to pull us apart.

To support the statement: https://linktr.ee/eajs