Polari Press statement in support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

Last updated: 11 May 2024

In response to the call from Palestinian society, artists and culture workers, Polari Press is committed to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

On this basis, we will not collaborate with any Israeli cultural institutions funded by the state; participate in cultural products commissioned by official Israeli bodies or non-Israeli bodies that promote Israel; nor events or activities sponsored by official Israeli bodies or complicit institutions. 

As expressed in the PACBI guidelines, we reject censorship and uphold the fundamental importance of freedom of expression. PACBI is aimed at institutions, not individuals. It rejects boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, sexuality, or religion) or opinion. 

To end their collusion in Israel’s regime and thereby become non-boycottable, Israeli cultural institutions must fulfil two basic conditions:

  • 1. Publicly recognise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law (including the three basic rights in the 2005 BDS Call).
  • 2. End all forms of complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law, including discriminatory policies and practices as well as diverse roles in whitewashing or justifying Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Polari Press is opposed to all forms of racism and recognises it as an integral component of white supremacy. Our rejection of antisemitism comes from this viewpoint. We reject the false and dangerous conflation between advocacy of Palestinian rights and opposition to the apartheid policies of the state of Israel, and racism, hatred, or discrimination against Jewish people. 

LGBTQIA rights are also being weaponised to excuse the actions of Israel in an example of pinkwashing. Comments such as “You’d be killed if you lived in Gaza” are often aimed at queer supporters of Palestinians. But human rights are—and need to be—universal. As soon as rights can be removed from some of us, they can be removed from all of us.

We are acutely aware of the role that Western governments—especially in the UK, US and Germany—are playing in the current siege, indiscriminate slaughter and starvation of Palestinian people. By supplying continued military assistance and aid to Israel, these governments are complicit in enabling a systematic breakdown of international laws, potential war crimes, and what the International Court of Justice found are “plausible accusations of genocide”.

We believe there can be no other interpretations of what is happening in Gaza, other than ethnic cleansing and genocide, as Israel now flouts the International Court of Justice’s provisional rulings.

It is incumbent on us to call for an end of arms sales to Israel and—in our position as a publisher—speak out against the suppression of Palestinian voices. 

Through discrimination, criminalisation and oppression, queer people have had our culture and heritage—as well as our contributions to wider society—minimised, forgotten, or purposefully destroyed. Polari Press is founded on the commitment of giving a voice to queer people to help safeguard against this threat of erasure which is still all too present. 

It is with this understanding that we find the ongoing silencing of Palestinian artists, authors and poets of deep concern. We feel it is reasonable to consider that such silencing—when viewed alongside the sustained and targeted destruction of Palestinian life, culture and heritage within Gaza and the West Bank—contributes to the ongoing cultural genocide faced by Palestinians.

While we predict there may be instances where we will need to balance the interests of our often-minoritised authors in deciding when to withdraw our titles from stockists, we will seek to do this with the following statement by Gelare Khoshgozaran from Human Resources Los Angeles in mind: “In the case of PACBI, you are refusing to sustain yourself at the cost of normalising settler colonialism and apartheid in Palestine”. 

We therefore commit to working with our distributor as well as seeking advice from PACBI advocates in considering when to remove our titles from bookshops within institutions which have cancelled events featuring Palestinian contributions. 

Finally, this is about more than demanding a current ceasefire. Our commitment to boycott will continue until Israel is in compliance with the three basic demands outlined in the 2005 BDS Call: 

  • 1. Ending its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
  • 2. Recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  • 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.