Gaza-based students and boycott activists issued a public statement on 13 June imploring British heavy metal band Napalm Death to cancel their gig this Friday in Tel Aviv. Posted on the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) website, the activists urged the band members to respect the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) just as they had done when they adhered to the boycott call during the era of apartheid in South Africa.
We are asking you to understand the Israeli Apartheid Regime’s complete subjugation of our lives and adhere to the 2005 call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations in Palestine to not perform in Apartheid Israel in Tel Aviv this Friday June 17th. Just as you adhered to the wishes of the African National Congress (ANC) during Apartheid South Africa, we hope you will remember us too.
We love music, we have our own big range of music and dance that we love to play. But we have few instruments. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza as the Israeli Apartheid regime decided that we as Palestinians should also be deprived of coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, donkeys, cattle, fishing rods, toys, workbooks and newspapers. Music reminds us of better times when Israeli attacks are killing our loved ones every week. Yet what we have is often drowned out by Israeli-US made F16s, F15s, F35s, surveillance planes, drones, naval gunboats, Merkava tanks and border fire.
When asked in an interview in 2007 about the band name ‘Napalm Death’ [band member] Barney Greenway said “we are anti war, and the Napalm is used to make munitions and bombs, you know.”
The letter continued:
If you perform in Israel, be aware that most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. Yet none of us will ever be able to get close to your music due to the straight jacket we are born into, namely, Israel’s permanent siege that restricts most of us from ever leaving Gaza. And why? Because we are Palestinian, the wrong ‘ethnic group’ for Israel’s expansive plans for the region.
We ask you now to respond to our call from inside the largest open air prison in the world and to not turn your back on us like the other brave musicians such as Massive Attack, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Pete Seeger, Gary Moore, the Gorillaz, Leftfield and Faithless.
You said in 2005, “At the end of the day, the idea is to make people aware … it really goes far beyond politics and into common sense, and the right of a human being to walk this earth without being oppressed.”
We Palestinians here in the Gaza ghetto dearly hope that one day we will have this right and all the rights denied to us that any people would expect. We urge you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against those denying us this right, to stand on the right side of history by cancelling your concert in Tel Aviv this Friday.
This letter comes on the heels of the news that two well-known musicians have decided to play planned gigs in Tel Aviv despite the ongoing international BDS call. Moby and Jello Biafra have been called out by Palestinian and international BDS activists who have demanded that they cancel their upcoming performances and respect the boycott.