The artists’ supporting events will be accompanied by vast media coverage, thus obliging the cultural sections of the different media to proclaim the social struggles, in addition to the fact that those partaking in the struggle would thus grasp that these economic and social struggles are much associated with other cultural struggles. We believe that the connection of different social networks will lead to an unfurling of social awareness through different mediums and the voluntary will of a large number of social classes in Israeli society. The economical sections have long ago become the secret circles where the hidden deals of Neo-Liberal thought are concluded. Likewise, the cultural sections came to be disassociated from the terrible social state of contemporary Israel. The initiators of Cultural Guerrilla see it as a goal to unite the two. To create an artistic, cultural, literary, and poetic link that relates to media, class, gender, and ethnic issues between different social struggles and diverse groups within the Israeli culture and society.
A Cultural Guerrilla event is a new technique for the creation of social change, involving artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, taking a radical, cultural, and youthful standpoint. The group is inspired by the ideas of Jerry Rubin, and Abbie Hoffman, but also The Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow – New Discourse and the Maayan/Maarvon and Daka Journals. We are not an established group, but a cultural guerrilla movement. Therefore we have no offices or staff, but we do have cultural events that hit as guerrilla actions, in order to bring back into discussion values of social justice and equality.
Guerrilla Tarbut (Hebrew: גרילה תרבות, "Culture Guerrilla") is an activist group of Israeli artists. Founded in 2007, the group aims to promote social and political causes through poetry and music, performed by its members as part of campaigns against social injustice.
Guerrilla Tarbut's activities take a form which is somewhere between a demonstration, and a poetry reading using a bullhorn.
The artists involved with Guerrilla Tarbut's activities include mostly poets, who read of their works, and also singer-songwriters who perform live in various musical styles. Although independent by nature, many of the group's activities are sponsored by Israeli poetry magazines, and coordinated with Israeli non-governmental organizations, including B'Tselem and New Israel Fund. Participants include poets and musicians of various ages and artistic styles, Jews and Arabs alike.
Guerrilla Tarbut's poets have also published three collections of their poems. The first collection, named Aduma ("Red"), was published on May 1st, 2007 and dealt with workers' rights. The second collection, Latzet! ("Out!"), was published on January 2009 as a response to operation Cast Lead.The “Poetry against the Wall” was published on March, 25th and was a collection of Palestinian and Jews writing poetry in order to bring down the apartheid wall.
Participants Poets who have taken part in Guerrilla Tarbut's events include: Aharon Shabtai, Yudit Shahar, Roy "Chicky" Arad, Mati Shemoelof, Ronny Someck, Yuval Ben-Ami, Yeoshua Simon, Maya Bejerano, Almog Behar, Bo'az Yaniv, Ronnie Hirsch, Tahel Frosh and others.
Guerrilla Tarbut's Events
Song of Coffee To Go (December 2007) Solidarity with the strike of the waitresses of a coffee-shop in Tel Aviv University, protesting against the management's policy to appropriate their tips to itself.
Song of Polgat (April 2008) Solidarity with unprivileged workers of a closed textile factory in the city of Kiryat Gat.
Song of Science (December 2008) Solidarity with New Union temporary workers of the Science Garden in the Weitzman Institute of Science, Rehovot.
Song of Akirov (January 2009) An event in front of Akirov Towers in Tel Aviv, exclusive residence of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, during operation Cast Lead.
Song for the Closed University (May 2009) Solidarity with workers of the Israeli Open University, who'd gone on a strike, in front of the university president's home in Kfar Saba.
Song for the Refugee's Daughters (August 2009) A protest against the government's intention to deport children of labour immigrants and refugees, near an Immigration Police facility in an industrial area near the city of Holon.
Poets Against Big Brother (November 2009) A protest against a proposition to establish a biometric database of all Israeli citizens in front of the government offices – in the center of Tel-Aviv.
Poetry Tears Down A Wall (December 2009) Poetry reading near the separation – Aparthied wall in Abu-Dis, in cooperation with B'tzelem.
Song for Yeruham (January 2010) Solidarity with Unionized workers of a tile “Akershtein” factory in Yeruham, in their struggle against draconian management demands.
Song for Ramla-Lod (May 2010) Solidarity with the people of the "unrecognized" village Dahmash, campaigning for government recognition and basic facilities – between Ramle and Lod.
The Pirates' Song (May 2010) A protest against the violent takeover of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by Israeli Defense Forces, in front of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
And more (-:
The group doesn't subscribe to a particular political manifesto, nor is it associated with any political party or movement. Similarly, the participating poets employ various poetical styles. Actually the mutual cultural act is moving the Public Sphere into a process of politicization.
Critical Commentary and Response
The group has been criticized by some Israeli poets. Yitzhak Laor, a prominent leftist poet and publicist, argued that poetry cannot bring about change, and "teaching literature in the periphery is more important than reading poetry in front of a factory" and also that the guerrilla emptied the category of guerrilla (haaretz, 11.5.2010). Some poets object to the mixture of poetry and political activism, arguing that poetry is a high and noble art which should be unsullied by politics. The group members, on the other hand, point out that less than a week after the poetic demonstration in the tile factory in Yeruham, the hard-liner local executive was fired and some of the workers' demands were accepted. Moreover, following the demonstration in the coffee-shop in Tel Aviv, the waitresses' demands were fully granted. Each and every event gained valuable publicity for the corresponding campaign.
Further reading: (last update 14.9.2011)
Latset! [Out Now!] is a poetry and art anthology against Israel's war on Gaza and violent neglect of its own citizens in the south, 1.1.2009
"In ruined village and at the Jaffa Expulsion": by Mati Shemoelof | Translated from the Hebrew by Chana Morgenstern,