We join many in the Santa Fe community who are deeply concerned by ongoing Lannan Foundation programming on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which uniformly features only speakers who are harshly critical of Israel and offers no alternative perspectives. While there is a wide range of opinions related to this entrenched and complicated conflict, it is disturbing that no speaker at the foundation’s Cultural Freedom events is an advocate for a two-state solution with a Palestinian state existing alongside the Jewish state of Israel.
Indeed, the Lannan Foundation provides funding and a platform for speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist. Some call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the entirety of the land that is now Israel, and some have justified suicide bombers or the latest stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians. Among those who have been honored with Lannan Foundation prizes or given visible platforms are Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah, Phyllis Bennis, Omar Barghouti and Richard Falk.
To be sure, the Lannan Foundation has a right to invite whomever it wishes to speak, and the speakers are entitled to their opinions. However, the foundation is doing a disservice to the people of Santa Fe with this one-sided and extreme presentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As an organization with a mission of “cultural freedom,” the foundation is failing to acknowledge the alternative perspectives that would provide a fuller understanding of these complicated issues. Where are the advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Where are the advocates of peace and Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation? Where are the voices that may be critical of Israel policies but recognize the legitimacy of Jewish nationalism and the existence of a Jewish state? Where are the voices of activists who work tirelessly to promote human rights, democracy and peace while being proud Israelis?
The Lannan Foundation has long been a leader in its generous support of civil rights, immigrants’ rights and the rights of Native Americans, as well as having a long-standing commitment to the arts and education. Many of us share the Lannan Foundation’s commitment to seek justice for people who are targets of hate. In this spirit, we urge the Lannan Foundation to help foster a climate that will lead to peace and understanding, and not sow the seeds of division and derision. We ask the Lannan Foundation to fulfill its mission by providing a forum where all perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be considered by the interested audiences of Santa Fe.