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A participant in a protest for Palestinian rights in front of the Museum of Modern Art in New York on May 14 (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

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Kara Walker, Nan Goldin, Simone Leigh, and Yto Barrada are among 16,000 international artists who signed a “Letter Against Apartheid” denouncing Israeli violence against Palestinians.

The open letter was drafted by an anonymous collective of six Palestinian artists. It was initially signed by 300 leading Palestinian artists, writers, and filmmakers, including Emily Jacir, Mona Hatoum, Larissa Sansour, Hiam Abbass, and Elia Suleiman.

“This is not a conflict: this is apartheid,” the letter affirms and calls for an “immediate and unconditional cessation of Israeli violence against Palestinians.” It also calls to end the “support provided by global powers to Israel and its military” with an emphasis on the United States, which “provides Israel $3.8 billion annually without condition.”

In a statement to Hyperallergic, the organizers called the letter “an unprecedented display of unity” among Palestinian artists. “The Palestinians of Gaza, Lydd, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and throughout the world have shown that seven decades of Israeli policies have not broken their idea of themselves as Palestinians,” they said.

A protest for Palestine in Queens, New York on May 22, 2021

The artists urge their peers in the art world to “exercise their agency within their institutions and localities to support the Palestinian struggle for decolonization to the best of their ability.”

“We ask you to be brave,” the letter reads. “We ask you to come forward, speak up and take a clear public stand against this ongoing injustice in Palestine.”

This call was answered by an unprecedented number of world-renowned figures. Among them are writers Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, Ben Lerner, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Rachel Kushner. Other signatories include filmmakers Michael Moore and Mike Leigh; actors Thandiwe Newton and Viggo Mortensen; musicians Marianne Faithfull and Brian Eno; and the Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid. Other artists who added their names to the letter include Vivian Suter, Bouchra Khalili, Coco Fusco, Rachid Koraïchi, Walid Raad, Molly Crabapple, and Alfredo Jaar.

“Apartheid must be dismantled,” the letter reads. “No one is free until we are all free.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...