Today, Palestinians commemorate the 39th anniversary of Israel’s illegal occupation. At a time of unprecedented Israeli repression and violations of human rights, when Israel is relentlessly pursuing the construction of its colonial Wall and settlements, both declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague in July 2004, we, representatives of Palestinian civil society, urge you to cancel your planned performance in Israel. We feel particularly disappointed because of your otherwise bright record of supporting just peace and human rights in our region and in other conflicts. You are among those who refused on principle to perform in South Africa during apartheid. Isn’t Israel’s own form of apartheid as worthy of your boycott?
Mainstream Israeli and international media are reporting that Israel is launching a major public relations campaign highlighting its key place in the international arts scene. Your visit, and regardless of your intentions, will be viewed by Palestinians as contributing to the deceptive image of Israel as a “normal” state, thereby legitimizing its racism and colonial oppression. In fact, we view every international artist, academic or intellectual who visits Israel without condemning its illegal military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land as acquiescent in its oppression of the Palestinians.
For any art to communicate love, hope and peace, as yours does, it cannot float above a land of apartheid walls, racism, indiscriminate killings, uprooted olive trees, demolished homes and other horrific infringements of international law, pretending not to see, hear or touch the injustice beneath. Otherwise, it would become an art in collusion with oppression; an art that perpetuates injustice.
Just this last week, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) in Britain and the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario joined the growing movement advocating effective sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with international law and fundamental principles of human rights. Increasingly, international civil society’s opposition to Israel’s occupation and other forms of oppression is inspired by and looking akin to the anti-apartheid movement that brought down the racist regime in South Africa. It is indeed high time for people of conscience the world over to isolate Israel, not to embrace it, in order to promote peace with justice and equality for all, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
We sincerely hope that you shall cancel this performance in Israel. If contracts and other legal obligations render such a cancellation prohibitively difficult, we urge you, at the very least, to take a moral and public stand against Israel’s occupation, denial of refugee rights and racial discrimination.
Please do not let your good name be associated with complicity in human rights violations. You — and we — deserve better.
Acting Steering Committee Palestinian Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS)
Contact: PACBI info@BoycottIsrael.ps
The Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is endorsed by over 170 Palestinian union, association and other civil society organization. The Call and the list of signatories can be found at: http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=66_0_1_10_M11