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FCG's Renewed Statement on Palestine

Since issuing our statement which echoed calls for an immediate ceasefire on November 4th, 2023 the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank has reached horrific new levels of violent occupation and ground invasion endured by Palestinian citizens for over 200 days. Forest City Gallery (FCG) continues to join in solidarity with Palestinians and numerous national and international arts organizations calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Israeli apartheid. 

In these last seven months we have witnessed international instances of chilling speech, artistic censorship, and the censure of cultural workers for calling for a ceasefire and speaking out against anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia. There are also hyper-local instances of silencing. As an arts advocacy organization, we oppose the encroachment of censorship on matters of conscience. We reaffirm our condemnation of any acts of anti-Semitism, and we assert that criticisms of the aggressive actions of the State of Israel can not be held as synonymous with anti-Semitism. FCG condemns in the strongest terms any acts of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, in all forms. Our organization believes that every person has the right to safety and shelter, and to be treated with respect and dignity. 

Gaza has been systematically placed under complete blackouts by the State of Israel; this is matched by cutting access to fuel, electricity, water, food, and medical aid. As of April 22nd, the United Nations (UN) has verified 34,000 civilian deaths in Gaza and unrelenting attacks on healthcare on occupied Palestinian territory. Attacks on healthcare in Gaza have dismantled the healthcare system, in total violation of international humanitarian law. This includes the raid and bombing of the central-most hospital in Gaza, al-Shifa Hospital. 

Palestinian civilians are experiencing unfettered violence causing mass death and disablement at the hands of the State of Israel and its allies, which include the Canadian government. We call for an immediate end to the government of Canada’s complicity in these activities. We echo a recent statement from Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, responding to independent journalism from The Maple: “Canada has aided and abetted this atrocity. Canadian arms deals with Israel flow freely in both directions: exporting military power to Israel, importing Israeli weapons ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinian children. Since October 7, ‘the total value of the new permits authorised over two months exceeds the 30-year annual record high of $26 million in Canadian military exports to Israel in 2021.’”

The Board of Directors and Staff at FCG join in solidarity with international Jewish movements, including IJV, that are making the vehement statement, “not in our name,” and who refuse the exploitation of Jewish grief as a multi-national settler-colonial scapegoat. The several-decades siege of Palestine is not in the interests of Jewish religious preservation or safety across the Jewish diaspora: it is genocide funded in large part by the United States and Canada, and this genocide is explicitly upheld through the tacit support of the Government of Canada and numerous Canadian and multi-national corporations. Given the Canadian Government’s long-standing export of arms to the State of Israel, including those produced in London by General Dynamics, this crisis is unequivocally a Canadian issue. We understand this conflict and violent incursion to be the immediate responsibility of Canada’s elected officials.

FCG expresses our solidarity with student-led anti-war movements, and specifically those at Western University carrying out actions for institutional divestment and a principled stance to end the militarized occupation against the Palestinian people. We urge our membership and community to support Palestinians, Jews, the United Nations General Assembly, people of the global majority, and this burgeoning student movement in calling for a ceasefire and end to occupation in Palestine. If you're seeking information on affiliated London-based advocacy events, we encourage you to check out CPSA London, Western Students 4 Palestine, IJV London, and London Ontario Activism.

We applaud and amplify local activists who are informing the public about the complex dynamics of corporate sponsorship and “artwashing.” At the same time, we hold annual fundraising campaigns like UPwithART to be integral to ensuring housing-focused organizations like Unity Project can continue to offer necessary services and supports within our community. This rings especially true following a devastating municipal multi-year budget that saw many on-the-ground social services and arts organizations lose vital funding, while the London Police saw an unprecedented level of funding. The present call for Unity Project and Museum London to address and reassess their relationship with sponsors, including Scotiabank and McDonalds, is an important one. We believe it is possible to have this conversation about funding and sponsorship while also championing the important and necessary community building that Museum London and Unity Project continue to do for London and the surrounding region.

We ardently align with Embassy Cultural House’s (ECH) long-standing artist-activism on Free Palestine and Land Back. We are in admiration of Good Sport, one of the first arts organizations in the London arts community to publicly call for local arts organizations to take a stand on this crisis. FCG shares founding and current members with both of these organizations; we maintain our solidarity with London’s arts community as arts workers ourselves, albeit with unique institutional leverage. 

As an organization that relies on public funding to keep its doors open, we are in ongoing conversation as a Board and Staff with these terms. FCG operates with a sole part-time staff and an operational Board of Directors, and we are embarking on further demonstrations toward financial transparency. We commit to continually exercising our solidarity with decolonization efforts in the arts, upholding our land acknowledgement and our programming as our binding call for action. We commit to supporting local artist-activists to our utmost capacity, including making our space available for local artists and collectives to gather, brainstorm, create, and organize.

As arts workers, we advocate for the end of settler-colonial violence totally. We urge our community to communicate with local politicians at your utmost capacity the call for a ceasefire and end to occupation in Palestine. We will continue to support freedom of expression in an arts context and extend our support to these activist, artist, and student-led movements in all the ways we are able. 

With urgency, 

Forest City Gallery’s Board of Directors and Staff


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