The Board of AMCA (The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey) issues this statement in support of the Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who was illegally and improperly refused permission by Israeli authorities to travel to attend a series of art exhibitions and discussion forums on contemporary art. AMCA also issues this letter and statement as a protest against this illegal detention and refusal of permission to travel as an infringement of human rights. According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
The facts about Khaled Jarrar’s detention by Israeli authorities and refusal for permission to leave for New York are reported in the article dated July 14, 2014 by Mariam Vanneschi, “Israel Denies Exit for Palestinian Artist in New Museum Show.” Briefly, the facts are summarized as follows.
On or about July 13, 2014, the artist Khaled Jarrar, aresident of Ramallah, on the West Bank of Palestine, attempted to legally cross the border into Jordan. He was scheduled to fly to New York City to attend a panel discussion there on July 16, and later to attend the opening of his new art exhibition, “No Exit” to be held at the Whitebox Art Center the following day, July 17. However on July 13, Khaled Jarrar was denied an exit by Israeli authorities. The only reason for the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities to allow him to pass is that Khaled Jarrar is an artist with an international reputation and an intellectual who they deem a threat to their interests. Presently the Whitebox Art Centre has been forced to reschedule a limited opening on July 24 with the absence of Khaled Jarrar’s attendance. A prospective appearance by Mr. Jarrar via Skype and the internet is merely hopeful at best and remains in violation of the principles of free expression intended in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) brings together art historians, art curators, artists, and university researchers and teachers in the arts – all those using the visual arts to promote ideas – in the common belief that it is through this sharing that a better understanding can be achieved across nations and frontiers. As an affiliate organization with both the College Arts Association and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), AMCA is the largest and only international association for academic research in the arts of the Middle East.
AMCA advocates that there should be no geographical, ethnic, cultural, religious and other divides that limit free expression and opinion. This also means the freedom of artists, writers, journalists and academics from interference by authorities. It is for this reason that AMCA issues this open letter of protest against the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities to allow the Palestinian artist the freedom to cross the border from the Israeli occupied Palestine into Jordan and connect to his flight to New York to attend his art opening.
The protection of the right to freedom of expression – the freedom to express ideas without fear of attack, arrest or other persecution – has been at the heart of AMCA’s mission and of the international arts community.
In view of the facts and principles stated above, AMCA issues this open letter to protest the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities for Khaled Jarrar’s right to travel. AMCA calls for the immediate review and reconsideration of this practice of withholding permission to travel and exit for any and all artists and intellectuals in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Nada Shabout, Ph.D.
President of AMCA