Headstand 07 and 08 – The Israeli Occupation and The Kapittel Festival 2013

Starting with building a wall consisting of 20 bricks.  The Israeli ambassador in Norway, Naim Araidi to the right. Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen

Starting with building a wall consisting of 20 bricks. The Israeli ambassador in Norway, Naim Araidi to the right. Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen


The Israeli ambassador in Norway, Naim Araidi, is invited as both poet and as ambassador for the Israeli state, on this years Stavanger Int. Litterature and Freedom of Speach Festival (2013).

I was invited to the Kapittel festival as Voice Artist in Residence. In advance, I told them that I had problems with the fact that they had invited the Israeli ambassador in Norway, due to the Israeli occupation and what is going on as we speak. The Kapittel festival assured me that they would not interfere with a possible Headstand in front of one of the ambassadors arrangements. They did not, and acted very professional.

The Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has an old and very complicated history. The ambassador has like me, a mixture of roles, since he is also an poet. In difference to me, he has an important political position, which is his job. This headstand is a consequence of that and not a personal attack.

By this headstand I want to set focus on what the Israeli government is doing, to “brand” themselves away from reality – with the  blessing of festivals and journalists, under cover of promoting friendship, peace and cultural and academic growth and exchange.

Since this is a headstand on a very complicated matter, I have concentrated on few, but good and very recent, reliable examples rather than overloading you with things you can find yourself.

I got this question from the Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad:

Why can´t he (the ambassador,my comment) just read his poetry uninterrupted on a festival for freedom of speach?

  1. I am interested in true dialogue. A dialogue is to me not worth anything if one of the parts is manipulating  the facts of the issues we are discussing. I am now referring to Israel´s campaign “Brand Israel” (see below) and the Israeli State´s  – and Mr. Araidi´s – talent for changing the subject when ever they are confronted with unpleasant facts from the UN, among others.

  2. I do not make friends or network with people who occupy, kill, prison without trial, steal other peoples homes and land, restrict the peoples access to water, food and medicine supplies.

  3. Due to this, I will no longer listen to neither the ambassador or the Israeli state until we see results; this means withdrawal,  a Palestinian state,  and respect for the human rights.

I see the ambassador’s appearance and performance as part of Israel’s propaganda program “Brand Israel”. The main purpose with “Brand Israel”, is to move the attention away from the the Israeli Human Rights violations and occupation of palestinian territory:

“Brand Israel”

  • Jerusalem post, by Haskell Nussbaum  – 10th of june 2009:

    “Brand Israel” (…)The campaign, which aimed to create awareness of Israel in a context other than the Arab-Israeli conflict, showcased Israeli creativity, archeological history and technological prowess. While it remains too early to conclude whether the campaign fulfilled its main goal (…), one unintended result is clear: Brand Israel has, ironically, kicked up a storm of conflict-related politics (…)

  • Jerusalem Post, by Ron Friedman, last updated: 02/11/2010 22:54

    (…) Aharoni is the head of the Foreign Ministry’s brand management team (…) For now, the brand called Israel is still associated with war and occupation. For the past two-and-a-half years, Aharoni has had the Herculean task of re-branding Israel. His goal: to change outsiders’ perception of Israel as a militaristic and conservative country into something closer to how Israelis see themselves – largely sababa (cool).”

 – – –

An interview with Naim Araidi – Stavanger Aftenblad, by Jan Zahl 16th of September 2013

I will now  refer  to an interview with Mr. Araidi, and the punk band Oi Polloi, who boycotted the whole festival due to the ambassadors appearance. The  interview is based upon the punk band Oi Polloi´s reaction and statement on facebook.

The text was checked by Mr Araidi before it was printed. This is confirmed by the journalist Jan Zahl on sms the 21st of September:

Oi Polloi, Facebook statement:

«We regret to announce that we are no longer appearing at the Kapittel literature & freedom of expression festival in Stavanger in Norway on Saturday since we found out that (incredibly) we were on the same bill as none other than the Israeli Ambassador! We don’t play with professional apologists for war crimes, torture, illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing & racism.»

From the interview in Stavanger Aftenblad:

Araidi: –
 These accusations are strongly exaggerated. In particular the accusations of racism. Hardly any people have suffered more under racism than the Jewish people.

Journalist: – But this suggests that Israel at least has a reputation problem?

Araidi: – No, on the contrary. Israel has friends all over the world, especially in the cultural sector, the  ambassador responds, and he (the ambassador, my com.) thinks that it is a paradox that a band boycotts an arrangement with a poet who himself belongs to a minority in Israel, namely the druze.

– – –

The ambassador is moving the discussion over to racism and the Jewish  people, of course a non-discussable and terrible fact. “Israel has friends all over the world, especially in the cultural sector”, he says.

Since he is not willing to discuss these exact “accusations” from Oi Polloi – let us now see what this “exaggerated accusations” might be in this very moment:

– – –

BBC, monday last week, the 20th of september 2013

“Diplomats from a number of European countries and the UN have reacted angrily after Israeli soldiers intervened to prevent them delivering aid to Bedouins in the West Bank. (…)The homes in Khirbet al-Makhul were knocked down on Monday after Israel’s High Court ruled that they had been built without the correct permits (…) The diplomats said that as soon as they arrived, around a dozen Israeli army jeeps converged on them and ordered them not to unload their truck (…)

Read the whole article here: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24184105

– – –

Newsletters from the UN/ Protection of Civilians Weekley Report, last three weeks. For the full report, go to the UN´s weekly reports here:

Link: www.ochaopt.org/reports.aspx?id=104

10 – 16 September 2013 – published 19th of September:

Israeli forces demolished dozens of residential and livelihood structures, displacing an entire community in the Jordan valley (…)

3-9 September 2013 – published 13th of September Over 70 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Four Palestinian-owned structures were demolished, displacing around 30 people. In Gaza, significant shortages of fuel and construction materials are impacting service provision and livelihoods.

27 of August – 2 of September 2013 – published 5th of September: Over 40 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank (…)

– – –

This is only from the last three weeks. I have not included the monthly reports.

So – exaggerations…? Hardly.

All this is happening right now, while Israel has an ongoing dialogue with the Palestines, hosted by John Kerry and the US, to try to find a solution.

 – – –

The actual Headstands was performed in a row, at the same arrangement. Here is the pictures and the statements that follows. Below these, some links to articles written about the festival and the noise that occurred.


Headstand 7 –  The state of Israel´s occupation

The wall to the right, the ambassador behind.  Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen. Holding the text in front of Lisa: Carmel Alabbasi

The wall to the right, the ambassador behind. Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen. Holding the text in front of Lisa: Carmel Alabbasi

The state of Israel continues the occupation with one hand, and reads poetry with the other. I will not as human, artist or associate professor in any way be a part of the ongoing propaganda program from the state of Israel, called “Brand Israel”.

The situation for the Palestinians shows clearly that decades of dialogue have not worked. I will not listen to more off-topic talk, until we see action and withdrawal from Palestine land.

Then I will gladly share experiences with Mr. Araidi in a cultural and academic context.

– – –



Headstand 8 – The Kapittel Festival 2013

Headstand Kapittel 2013. Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen. Holding the text in front of Lisa: Carmel Alabbasi

Headstand Kapittel 2013. Photo: Ingrid Baltzersen. Holding the text in front of Lisa: Carmel Alabbasi

By inviting Araidi intentional as poet one day (Saturday the 21st) and ambassador the other (Sunday the 22nd),  the festival in my opinion becomes an instrument  for Brand Israel´s strategy.

Araidi claims himself in an interview in Stavanger Aftenblad the 22nd of September: “For me it is impossible to separate between the two roles (…)”. He also says that he was offered the job quite unexspectedly.

Im my view, an official ambassador is an ambassador, even if he is a poet. Araidi is “Brand Israel” in action.

With this headstand I hope that the festival for next year will  look more deeply into different perspectives hidden under the surface.

– – –

Coda Headstand 7 & 8:

I have reached a limit. I am not pro a complete boycott, it will depend on the context. And – I do believe that the festival gave Mr Araidi more than full attention and possibility to speak up for himself and Israel. The stage was his after I had left, and he used it.

According to my sources, people who was visiting the live interview with the ambassador on Sunday, Stavanger Aftenblad managed to do a full interview on stage, without mentioning the occupation at all. 

The ambassador mentioned though, that I was pretty. Twice at least. So why not clean up that one too, while going on:

Pretty? Mr Araidi. That is what a man in despair calls his discussion partner when he is out of arguments.



Ingrid Baltzersen and Carmel Alabbasi: Thank you for helping me with preparations and performing and documenting the  headstands.


One Response to “Headstand 07 and 08 – The Israeli Occupation and The Kapittel Festival 2013”

  1. Lisa Dillan Says:

    For information, and maybe in line with his comments on my looks, Mr. Araidi has been sent home to Israel due to harassments towards female colleagues in the embassy.

    For more info, this article might be helpful, though in Norwegian:


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