The following open letter issued to US jazz musician Chick Corea, scheduled to play in Tel Aviv on 4 September, was issued on 9 August 2010 by the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel and endorsed by University Teachers’ Association in Palestine:
We are a group of students from Gaza, and our only fault is being Palestinians. For that, Mr. Corea, we are imprisoned with our families and loved ones in what major human rights organizations call the largest open air prison in modern history. The state you are planning to entertain committed a process of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people in 1948. And now it is engaged in what the Israeli academic Ilan Pappe calls “slow motion genocide” against the 1.5 million population of Gaza.
We are writing to you from under the hermetic siege imposed on us. We are punished just because we belong to this land and hold its identity. Israel committed what Richard Goldstone called “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” knowing very well that it would be immune from accountability. You must be aware that all aspects of our life are affected by the siege, which in itself is a gross violation of international humanitarian law.
We love music. But, we are deprived from it. The sound of Israeli US-made F-16s, F-15s, F-35s, surveillance planes, white phosphorous bombs, naval gunboats and Merkava tanks do not allow us to listen to music anymore. In Gaza, we are forbidden from experiencing the meaning of humanity, from being in love and expressing it in art, dance, music and all its magnificent other forms that we long to live and experience.
Dear Mr. Corea, we are deafened by the sounds of crying children around us. Some have lost their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in the last genocidal war the apartheid state of Israel launched against Palestinians in Gaza, and others have lost a part of their bodies. But, we can assure you that all of them have lost something they never had … a childhood!
Dear Mr. Corea, if you decide to play in Israel, please remember us, remember the screaming, crying children of Palestine, the voices of the 434 children killed during the 22-day attacks that sometimes linger in the silence of our dark nights. Remember those who cannot read, study and attend school and university as a result of Israel’s medieval siege. Remember those farmers who are shot by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers as they harvest their crops on their land. Do you know that most of the people in your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army?
Mr. Corea, we call upon your free soul that has been adding magnificent art for decades into this disenchanted world of ours, to join those courageous people of conscience like Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Carlos Santana and Devendra Banhart in boycotting Israel until it complies with international law, and until justice and accountability are reached just as the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement made way for the collapse of apartheid in South Africa.
Anti-apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils have all described Israel’s control and 60-year collective punishment of the Palestinians as apartheid — a brutal, colonial system based on racial discrimination. We ask you now to stand on the right side of history, to respond to our call from the Gaza ghetto to not turn your back on us.
Mr. Corea, if you will play in Israel, then we will be a short distance away from where you are playing. Perhaps the sound of the deadly silent, cautious nights of ours will send your tunes over to besieged Gaza. But your beautiful tunes will break our wrenching hearts and not sway our souls.