We, Book Works and Hajar Press, are dismayed by the Arnolfini International Centre for Contemporary Arts’ censorship of Palestinian creative voices through its cancellation of two Bristol Palestine film festival events in November 2023.
Such censorship of Palestinian creative voices and expression is taking place amidst the warnings by dozens of UN experts and hundreds of legal scholars of a “genocide in the making” in Gaza, where more than 20,000 people have been killed and 2 million have been displaced. That Arnolfini would choose to silence Palestinian voices and narratives at this exact moment is not merely a betrayal of the fundamental principles of pluralism and freedom in the arts, it is also inhumane. As publishers committed to true freedom of expression for all, liberatory voices, and spaces for complexity, we find this act of censorship deeply troubling.
Until the Arnolfini leadership publicly commits to consistently uphold freedom of expression, without exception for Palestine, and genuinely engages with Bristol’s arts community to rectify the harm it has caused, we will not engage with the Arnolfini in any of their programmes, including supplying any of our titles to the Arnolfini bookshop. We are among several other publishers who are poised to join this disengagement in the coming days unless the situation changes.
We join over 1300 artists, in Bristol and internationally, who have pledged to disengage from working or cooperating with Arnolfini until changes are made.
We urge fellow writers, publishers & distributors who value peace, justice and freedom for all people in Palestine and Israel to join us. We refuse to see our titles, which include writers fighting for liberation for Palestinians and all occupied peoples globally, stocked by Arnolfini’s bookshop whilst their censorship continues to take place.