We Refuse to be Scapegoats

CURRENTLY

  • We joined Sumaya Awad, brian bean and Yara Hawari for a discussion on Palestine, socialism, and anti-imperialist solidarity across borders, chaired by Ilan Pappé – inspired by the newly-edited book Palestine: A Socialist Introduction published by Haymarket Books. This volume systematically tackles the Palestinian struggle for liberation, contextualizing it in an increasingly polarized world and offering a socialist perspective on how full liberation can be won. The speakers analysed the impact of the recent neoliberal normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states, the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections, and how we can build a global socialist movement that tackles Israeli apartheid. WATCH HERE
  • On the Side of the Road (2013) is a documentary which addresses the denial and amnesia that affects many Israelis, including veterans of the Israeli War, regarding the Palestinian dispossession that occurred in the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. The film also tells the story of the documentary filmmaker Lia Tarachansky, herself, as an Israeli who grew up in a settlement in the West Bank but as an adult began to realize the problems of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinians. WATCH HERE
  • We watched On the Side of the Road (2013) as part of Voices from the Holy Land Online Film Salon on 11 April 2021 which included a live conversation moderated by Rosemarie Esber, author, oral historian, and international gender specialist with Lia Tarachansky and Ghassan J. Tarazi, educator and founding member of Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace. WATCH HERE
  • Tell her we need the wall to keep us safe is a video fragment from Pam Skelton’s artistic research leading to We Refuse to be Scapegoats. This fragment features Jennie Stoller and references Seven Jewish Children. A Play for Gaza by Carly Churchill performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2009. It was written in response to the 2008/09 military strike on Gaza and contains seven moments in Israel history, from the Holocaust via the first intifada to the present day. The play acts out what adults tell their children and what don’t. The play is free to download here and can be read and performed anywhere by any number of people. WATCH HERE
  • On Sunday, 21 March 2021 we tuned into a conversation between Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Huwaida Arraf to learn about the legal challenges and public campaigning for Palestine in the USA, UK and Europe. The main aim of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign since 2000 has been to accelerate the massive shift already under way in favour of support for the rights of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation or languishing in refugee camps around the region. Huwaida Arraf is an American Palestinian and human rights activist who in 2001 co-founded the International Solidarity Movement, which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Huwaida is co-author of Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement. WATCH HERE
  • We are tuning into Let’s Talk it Over DiEM25 monthly live conversation series hosted by Frank Barat. In its second edition on 15 March 2021 Frank talks to British barrister and founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights Daniel Machover and Diala Shamas, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Together with regular contributors musicians Brian Eno and Roger Waters, they discuss the concept of apartheid when it comes to Israel, as well as the attempts to criminalize the BDS movement both in the UK and in the US. They also address the recent declaration of the International Criminal Court in regards to Israel/Palestine. WATCH HERE
Yaffa central bus station 2 year before Al Nakba. ‘The empty land’ Palestine. Image via Abier AlKhateeb @abierkhatib
  • International Women’s Day is upon us and we are sharing one of the essays from the book Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms (Valiz, 2000, Katy Deepwell, Ed.). The book covers a wide range of feminist thinking and works on identity, intersectionality, power structures and politics. As part of the new PLURAL series, the book aims to do justice to the plurality of voices, experiences and perspectives in society and in the arts and to address the history and present and future meaning of these positions and their interrelations. As one of the contributing voices, Pam reflects on the artistic process or ‘the painful journey’ towards We Refuse to be Scapegoats. Read Pam’s essay as part of our pre-exhibition discussion group at P21 Gallery DOWNLOAD HERE
  • Can we trace the beginning of Pam’s forthcoming exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats at P21 Gallery to her interest in the status of surveillance: its impact on urban space, ethics, citizenship, civic liberties, conflict and resistance as well as strategies of counter-surveillance that proposes new spectatorial positions, individual empowerment, increased interactivity and social networking. The legacy of state surveillance became the focus of her major project Conspiracy Dwellings about a network of almost 500 secret apartments and institutions in Erfurt from which the former East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) operated from 1980 to 1989. As part of our discussion group Pam reimagines some of the footage which made up her initial moving image installation in Conspiracy Dwellings WATCH HERE

RECENTLY

  • The first on our list of recommendations is a recording of the Jewish Network for Palestine webinar held on 3 December 2020 featuring Prof. Shlomo Sand who speaks about his books on the topic of Jewish identity and his most recent book The Imagined Race: From Judeophobia to Zionism (Hebrew, 2020) with Prof. Haim Bresheeth-Zabner WATCH HERE

  • Our next recommendation is a book chapter When Yaffa Met ( J)Yaffa by Honaida Ghanim on the intersections between the Holocaust and the Nakba through a deep reading of Rashid Hussein’s poem Love and the Ghetto (1963) DOWNLOAD HERE

  • Next is an homage to the war journalist Robert Fisk presented by London’s Sands Films Studio in December 2020. It includes an exclusive screening of the film This is Not a Movie. Robert Fisk and Politics of Truth (dir. Yung Chang, 2020) documenting his life work and vision through a thoughtful interview and skilfully edited archive material including from Sabra and Shatila, Syria and Bosnia. WATCH HERE

  • We joined the virtual reading group which explores Hannah Arendt’s publication Between Past and Future (1968) in the context of Richard Saltoun Gallery’s On Hannah Arendt 12-month exhibition programme. It is in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, Canada. The first reading was held on 13 January 2021 and focussed on the Preface. The Gap Between Past & Future with an introduction by Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham and author of Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees (Oxford University Press). Our recommendation is an article by Lyndsey Stonebridge which concludes with Arendt’s message: Think for yourself. Expect and prepare for the worst, but think and act for something better. The impossible is always possible. READ MORE

  • We caught up with the webinar hosted by Peter Larson of Ottawa Forum on Israel-Palestine on 19 January 2021. It features Mondoweiss founder and contributor Phil Weiss in conversation with Israeli-Canadian journalist Lia Tarachansky about Israel and Palestine in the post-Trump era and what to expect from the new Biden administration. WATCH HERE

  • To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January 2021, we released for the first time here one of Pam’s own voxpop interviews held on the site of the former Wаrsaw Ghetto in 1996. In relation to this new extract we are discussing Conflicting Memories: Polish and Jewish Perceptions of the Shoah by Konstanty Gebert where he explores some of the reasons why Poles and Jews have such different perceptions of the events of the Second World War in Poland, pp 28-39 as published in Holocaust Education in a Global Context (UNESCO, 2014) DOWNLOAD HERE
  • Pam and I interviewed Rosa Sacharin, aged 91 at her home in Glasgow on International Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January 2016. This interview is now part of Pam’s new moving image works. Author of the autobiographical book The Unwanted Jew (2014), Rosa was the last child to board the first Kindertransport from Berlin to the UK on 1 December 1938. In our minds, Rosa’s steady and calm voice would loom as an emotional monument of remembering and sharing: ‘Suffering is suffering. It doesn’t matter which colour, creed or religion you are. In honour of Rosa Sacharin (1925-2019), we are watching Courage (2011) – a short documentary featuring Rosa and commemorating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Refugee Convention. WATCH HERE Below: Rosa Sacharin, aged 13 on arrival in Edinburgh in 1938, is in the front row on the far right
  • Next we are discussing Prayer Before Birth– a poem written by the Irish poet Louis MacNeice (1907–1963) at the height of the Second World War yet it is still recited at demonstrations by peace activists and human rights supporters and posted on social media. Pam discovered the poem in 2008 while undertaking an artist’s research into the archives of the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS) in London. “During one of my research visits, I came across an old vinyl record titled ‘Some Recent English Poems.’ It was produced in 1946 by the SCRSS as a gift from British poets to their Soviet counterparts featuring author’s readings by John Lehmann, Edith Sitwell, Louis MacNeice and many others. As part of my residency at the SCRSS archives, I arranged for the digitisation of the record. This rare recording of Louis MacNeice’s voice is now part of my new moving image works in my exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats” Pam Skelton WATCH HERE

  • Our discussion next focusses on the term Nakba (‘Catastrophe’ in Arabic) which was almost completely absent from public discourse in Hebrew in Israel until the early 2000s. Its current prominence was largely due to Zochrot (‘Remembering’ in Hebrew) – the first Israeli non-profit organization devoted to the commemoration of the Nakba of 1948. Zochrot’s resources about the flight and expulsion of the Palestinians have informed Pam’s moving image works to be featured in We Refuse to be Scapegoats exhibition at P21 Gallery. Here we acknowledge Zochrot’s founder – the writer and activist Eitan Bronstein Aparicio – who was one of the speakers in Present Absentees – a panel discussion event for Refugee Week held on 1 July 2020 as part of the solo exhibition Cry, the Beloved Country by Gil Mualem Doron at P21 Gallery WATCH HERE
Zochrot’s logotype, the keyhole, symbolizes the counterpart of the well-guarded door-key of the expelled Palestinians. Image: Title deed and front-door key of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Courtesy of Flüchtlingskinder im Libanon e.V.

  • Next we are reading an excerpt from Noura Erakat’s new book Justice For Some: Law and the Question of Palestine. In it Erakat outlines how the Palestinian Authority’s ‘illusory quest’ for statehood ‘has shaped the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to U.S. tutelage and its reticence to embark on a bolder course based on a politics of resistance’. READ MORE
  • On International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 we released the first of Pam’s voxpop interviews held on the site of the former Wаrsaw Ghetto in 1996. Here is a follow-up clip from the series now showing for the first time and soon as part of our exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats at P21 Gallery WATCH HERE
  • We are pleased to share an excerpt of Michael Rothberg‘s influential book Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the of Age of Decolonisation (Stanford University Press, 2009) – one of the catalysts for Pam’s new moving image works to be presented to the public for the first time as part of our forthcoming exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats at P21 Gallery as soon as it is safe for the gallery to reopen after the current COVID-19 lockdown. DOWNLOAD HERE

JOIN THE FACEBOOK DISCUSSION GROUP HERE

We Refuse to be Scapegoats is the first UK solo exhibition in the last ten years by the established British artist of mixed Eastern European Jewish heritage Pam Skelton. The exhibition features new moving image works by Skelton with a soundscape by Wayne Brown. It represents the artist’s findings from a long-term research deriving from her own family history, and in particular, the histories, memories and impact of the Jewish Shoah (Holocaust) and the Palestinian Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’ or ‘disaster’) on ensuing generations in diverse geopolitical contexts.

Accompanied by an online discussion group (see above) and a forthcoming online publication of new writing by Caterina Albano, Iliyana Nedkova and Pam Skelton.


Curated by Iliyana Nedkova with contributions from Dominik Czechowski, Tony Fletcher, Heather Kiernan, Jonathan Samuel, John Talbot, Mare Tralla, and Yahya Zaloom specifically for P21 Gallery, London which was established in 2013 to promote and discuss contemporary Middle Eastern and North African art and culture with a distinct focus on Palestine.

The exhibition is now scheduled for 24 June – 10 July 2021 at P21 Gallery


During a demonstration in London in 2019, I heard the Palestinian youth activist Ahed Tamimi defiantly proclaim that she refused to be a victim, that she had reached the point of no longer being scared to speak out. Fear is the weapon that silences us. The fact is that we still live in an era of camps, detention centres and ghettos echoing what Louis McNeice declared in his 1944 anti-war poem Prayer Before Birth ‘tall walls wall us’. These are only some of the powerful words and voices of activists and artists alike I have included in my new moving image works featured in We Refuse to be Scapegoats. Pam Skelton


We Refuse to be Scapegoats encapsulates Skelton’s conviction that the struggle for equality must still haunt us lest we forget to remember the misuse of power and the cost in human lives and sufferings. In Israel and occupied Palestine territories, as well as in the numerous other zones of conflict where human rights abuse takes place, the past is no longer the past since it functions within the perpetual flow of multiple current crises. Iliyana Nedkova

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