PROVIDING A PLATFORM FOR ARTISTS SUPPORTING ISRAEL
In interviews and lectures, I am often asked, “Why aren’t there more artists speaking out in support of Israel?”
In fact, hundreds of artists show support by performing in Israel every year despite vicious campaigns pressuring them to boycott. And some, like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who gave BDS proponents the proverbial finger, offer a spirited defense of their right to do so.
What’s missing, of course, is an abundance of artists -- not under the gun of personal attack -- who are speaking out in favor of Israel and denouncing BDS.
Unabashedly pro-Israel artists are out there, and Liberate Art provides them with a platform to raise their voices.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Israel Bonds and Los Angeles based Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Liberate Art produced the first celebrity anti-BDS panel. David Zucker, the iconic writer/producer/director of Airplane, Police Academy and Scary Movie fame, was joined by 11-time Grammy nominee, Alan Parsons, TV and film star, Mark Pellegrino, Israeli bassist, Guy Erez, and attorney Ken Hertz, whose firm represents A-list talent including Will Smith, Gwen Stephani, The Black Eyed Peas and Keith Richards.
Topics included the very public brouhaha between Alan Parsons and BDS poster boy, Roger Waters; BDS as censorship and bigotry; advice to artists under attack; and how it feels to Israelis to be singled out for this type of discrimination;
The event was streamed live on Facebook and covered in mainstream publications as well as on international radio, TV, and online media.
SUPPORTING ENTERTAINERS WHO SUPPORT ISRAEL
There aren’t enough entertainers supporting Israel, so when one asks Liberate Art to help with a project close to his or her heart -- we are there.
Los Angeles-based comic and writer, Avi Liberman, first told me about his work for the Koby Mandell Foundation -- which provides healing programs for families struck by terrorism and tragedy -- over coffee in an Orthodox neighborhood near La Brea and Beverly Boulevard. Koby’s parents created the foundation after terrorists brutally murdered their 13-year-old son, Koby Mandell and his friend, Yosef Ishran, while they were hiking in the hills by their home in 2001. Every year, Avi organizes a concert tour in Israel with A-list comics to help the foundation raise money. He asked Liberate Art to help promote the tour and underscore its importance to Israelis.
Liberate Art responded with widely circulated commentary and a videotaped interview. “After the bomb goes off” is an emotionally powerful depiction of the impact terror attacks have on those left behind. “The story doesn’t end when the cord is pulled. It doesn’t end with the mangled bodies, the search for the missing, the identification of the victims, the burying of the dead. It’s not a bus that gets blown apart, but lives.”
In an exclusive Liberate Art interview, Avi Liberman describes the impact the tour has on the participating comics. “Once there, the comics see more than the inside of a comedy club, they see the country and meet its people. When they return home, they share their experiences with the world.”
With his philanthropy, Avi does a double mitzvah by helping victims of terror and creating emissaries for the Jewish state. Liberate Art is proud to help.
EXPOSURE FOR ISRAELI ARTISTS
Even without the crushing burden of BDS, Israeli artists face a daunting challenge. The market for Hebrew language film, TV and music is small and budgets are limited.
Interestingly, budget and market limitations play to a definitive Jewish strength --- storytelling. Character development and emotional connection are a hallmark of Israeli film and TV.
Until the recent breakout success of TV sensation, Fauda (available on Netflix), however, most of Israel’s best TV programming such as Hatufim (Homeland) and BeTipul (In Treatment) were not seen in their original format. Instead, they were adapted and ‘Americanized’ for international audiences.
In 2017, Liberate Art met with a senior editor at the quintessential entertainment magazine, Variety, to discuss the possibility of a feature story on Israeli television to highlight its simultaneously universal but unique Jewish voice.
Liberate Art embarked on fact-finding and relationship building mission meeting with Israeli filmmakers, comedy writers, TV producers, top-ranking executives of Israel’s actors guild, music schools, concert promoters, and members of the culture ministry.
The result was Variety’s “Spotlight on Israel TV” which appeared in their 2017 MIPCOM edition. MIPCOM is the year’s most anticipated global market for entertainment content across all platforms. The feature was read by its close to 14,000 industry attendees and viewed by hundreds of thousands more in its online and digital marketing.
Israeli artists and entertainers are hungry for maximum exposure to international audiences.
To help fill this need, Liberate Art organizes successful online Facebook events where diverse Israeli artists can showcase their work to an expanding fanbase. Previous co-sponsors include the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) and Top Short Los Angeles film Festival. The AICF, founded in 1939, develops and funds many of Israel’s largest cultural institutions and Israel’s finest artists in every discipline.
In addition, Liberate Art worked with KCET online and in traditional media to promote the rollout of the first public broadcast of Hatufim, the original Hebrew language series that served as the basis forHomeland. KCET is the largest independent public television station in the U.S., providing public television service to nearly 2 million individual viewers throughout 11 diverse counties in Southern and Central California.
Individuals and organizations supporting Israel resemble tiles in a mosaic; each one contributes its special body of work to create the larger picture.
Liberate Art meets regularly with key influencers in the entertainment and pro-Israel communities. It is essential, however, for these groups to come together periodically to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Liberate Art brings members of the creative community and pro-Israel leaders together in two of the entertainment industry capitals of the world, Los Angeles and New York.
PREPARING YOUNG MINDS
To generation Z (4-24 years old), the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is impacting people they don’t know in a land far, far away. How do we help them relate both intellectually and emotionally to political events they typically feel don’t impact their lives?
Educating young minds about the cultural boycott is an excellent way to grab their attention and personalize BDS.
Young people adore celebrities and spend endless hours on social media following their favorite pop icons. Most of them don’t realize that many of their favorite artists are also the victims of BDS.
Katy Perry, for example, has over 100 million followers on Twitter and the average age of her fan base is 17-24. In August 2011, when Israel suffered a cross-border attack, Ms. Perry tweeted a prayer for her Israeli fans. In response, she suffered an avalanche of online hate and disparagement.
Liberate Art is the only organization that educates specifically regarding the unique characteristics of the cultural boycott campaign.
Liberate Art works with pro-Israel college students both individually and in groups providing them with strategic guidance. When attendees at a CAMERA* sponsored conference in Boston were asked who their favorite speaker was, one student had this to say, "Lana Melman, it was a perspective I've never heard before, that BDS's cultural boycott is a form of censorship."
When Temple Etz Chaim of Thousand Oaks was looking for a topic to spark the interest of 8th through 12th graders and their parents, Liberate Art was happy to answer the call.
Lana Melman also serves on the advisory board of Career Up, and mentors young adults entering the workforce.
*Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
AS DIRECTOR OF CCFP
In her former role as the premier director of Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), Lana spearheaded an entertainment industry pushback against the cultural boycott campaign.
When the American rapper Pitbull and his road crew (roadies) were concerned about violence in the Gaza strip prior to his upcoming Tel Aviv concert, Lana calmed their jittery nerves with facts and perspective.
When Alicia Keys received extreme boycott pressure in connection with her performance in Israel, Lana worked with key members of the music industry offering layers of support.
Lana also worked closely with Scarlett Johansson's publicist when the actress was attacked by Oxfam International for being the spokesperson for SodaStream, an Israeli company. After Scarlett took a principled stance to part ways with the international aid organization, Lana organized a “gratitude campaign” ultimately delivering over 8,000 thank you notes from her fans.
Together with other high-profile members of the entertainment community, Lana circulated a statement in 2014 in support of Israel’s right to defend herself during Operation Protective Edge, which was ultimately signed by over 300 Hollywood luminaries, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seth Rogen, Kelsey Grammer, Sylvester Stallone, Roseanne Barr, and Sarah Silverman.