Concert cancellation victory against normalization

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and all its partners, individuals and organizations active in art, culture and human rights, regard the cancellation of the Jericho-Tel Aviv event, planned by “One Voice” to take place on 18 October, as a substantial accomplishment for the Palestinian boycott movement. A solid partnership between diverse civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has succeeded in thwarting the event’s organizers’ attempt to mislead public opinion and to use deceptive slogans to market a political program that concedes some fundamental Palestinian rights. Without the broad grassroots support among Palestinian and Arab institutions and leading figures for the statement calling for boycotting the event, the organizers would not have been compelled to cancel this huge production handsomely funded by dubious foreign sources.

PACBI and its partners wish to express their gratitude to all the artists and arts groups that withdrew from the festival after learning the truth about the organizing group’s political program. In particular, we thank Jamil as-Sayeh, Ilham Madfa’i, DAM and Asayel. We also thank everyone who helped spread the word and raise awareness about the event and its sponsors.

The discrepancy in the political language used by the organizers in their Arabic Web page and the main English page was only an indicator of a deeper deception. They falsely claimed, for instance, that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was the event’s main patron, a claim that was categorically dismissed in an official statement issued by the President’s office on 11 October; they also included names of well-known national figures as members of various committees of their organizations without those individuals’ consent or even knowledge, as was later disclosed.

Most recently, after they were forced to cancel the festival due to the withdrawal of the main artists, the overwhelming support of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of the event, and the President’s distancing himself from the whole festival, the organizers asserted, in Arabic, that the event was cancelled due to “technical reasons,” while the press statement, in English, issued by the main sponsor — who announced the festival cancellation — cited “security reasons” and “threats” by “extremists” against the participating artists as the reason for the cancellation. Despite the obvious falsehood and slander of such assertions, PACBI wishes to stress that, since its inception in 2004, it has embraced civil struggle, nonviolent by its nature, in its discourse and action, inside occupied Palestine and outside. Moreover, all of PACBI’s partners who participated in exposing the truth about this event adopted only rational persuasion and awareness-raising in countering the deception and innuendo propagated by the event organizers, a fact that played a key role in widening the circle of public support for the proposed boycott.

This achievement is further proof that a clear majority in Palestinian society continues to insist on the full realization of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, paramount among which is the right to self-determination and the right of return for the refugees, as guaranteed by international law. A just peace can only be attained by completely ending the occupation with all its manifestations as well as the various forms of Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people, in compliance with international law and the universal principles of justice and human rights.

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