The Palestinian arts community received in disbelief the news of your upcoming performance in Tel Aviv in June, at a time when Israel continues unabated with its colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress and ultimately ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homeland. We strongly urge you to cancel your plans to perform in Israel until the time comes when it ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and respects the relevant precepts of international law concerning Palestinian rights to freedom, self-determination and equality.
Upon learning of your planned tour, Palestinian as well as several international artists asked in shock: How can the artist whose name around the world was for many years associated with breaking walls of injustice be in any way complicit with the monstrosity of Israel’s Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague? Not too long ago, you lent your good name to the War on Want’s effort to collect signatures of public figures against Israel’s Wall. At the time, you rightly stated, “The poverty inflicted by the wall has been devastating for Palestinians. It has kept children from their schools, the sick from proper medical care and continues to destroy the Palestinian economy. I fully support War on Want’s campaign, and hope that as many people as possible sign the wall - as a strong message to the UK government that immediate action is essential.”
This same Wall has grown substantially since. It now divides many more Palestinians from their livelihoods and vital health and educational services. The support it garners in Israeli society has also grown - close to 90% of all Israeli Jews support the Wall despite its devastating repercussions on Palestinians under occupation.
Furthermore, as you may know, Palestinian civil society has almost unanimously called upon international civil society to engage in acts and campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes the fundamental human rights of the people of Palestine. The Church of England, the US Presbyterian Church, a group of top British architects, among many other groups and institutions in the West, have all heeded the Palestinian distress call and considered applying effective pressure on Israel to promote peace and justice in our troubled land. Is it too much, then, to expect conscientious international artists to uphold the values of freedom, equality and justice for all?
Ironically, when you were invited last year to perform in the Palestine International Festival 2005, the theme of that festival was “Another BREAK in the Wall!” The following lyrics for a song which was to be performed by school children were inspired by your timeless song:
We don’t need no occupation
We don’t need no racist wall
No more siege and no more curfews
Soldiers leave us kids alone
Hey! Soldiers! Leave us kids alone!
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
All in all we’ve just made another BREAK in the wall
These words still express our collective view of the Wall, of our oppressors, and are still inspired by you. Do they still mean the same to you?
We appeal to your moral compass, your record of standing up for principles of human dignity and equality. And we sincerely hope that you shall be another brick in the bridge to liberty and justice, not another concrete slab in Israel’s Wall of shame.