The following is an open letter sent from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to playwright Sarah Jones:
Dear Ms. Jones,
With more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks in the occupied Palestinian territory, endless indiscriminate raids, and a medieval siege that prevents for long periods the passage of necessary food, medicine, fuel and all other commerce into or out of Gaza, in particular, Israel is trapping more than 3.5 million Palestinian civilians under occupation in their cities, villages and refugee camps, condemning many of whom into abject poverty. Tens of Palestinian women were killed while giving birth on Israeli military checkpoints for not being allowed to reach hospitals or ambulances waiting on the other side. Hundreds of Palestinian youth and children have been killed by the Israeli occupation army and thousands have been denied entry to their homeland.
Yes, all prominent human rights organizations have recorded this terrible oppression by the Israeli military in occupied Palestine. Yes, these crimes and gross human rights violations are persistently committed by Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Even at the level of censorship and cultural repression Israel, throughout its four decades of occupation, has done everything in its capacity to destroy or marginalize Palestinian identity, history and cultural heritage. This is real censorship of the 21st century! Musical instruments are destroyed, and several Palestinian cultural centers are invaded and ravaged by the Israeli occupation army. And when Israel celebrates a holiday, the whole Palestinian population in the occupied territory is placed under curfew.
The performance you plan to give in Israel will coincide with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of this state over the remains of another country, Palestine. With the creation of Israel 60 years ago, three quarters of a million Palestinians were dispossessed and uprooted from their homes and lands, condemned to a life of exile and destitution.
Israel at 60 is a state that is still denying Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights, simply because they are “non-Jews.” It is still illegally occupying Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel is continuing the construction of its colonies and massive Wall in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 2004. It is still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing fundamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through munificent US and European economic, diplomatic and political support. It is still treating its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized discrimination.
If you perform in Jerusalem you will be taking part in a feast for war crimes, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and continued oppression of a people.
We urge you not to turn your back to the needs and rights of the Palestinian people and not to collude in Israel’s persistent human rights abuse, which is, after all, the worst enemy of art and culture.
We’ve always admired your contribution to the fight against censorship and for the rights of women and children. Your name has become associated with a progressive school of thought that perceives art as a catalyst of social change. It is this legacy of yours that emboldens us to urge you not to play in apartheid Israel. Speak the truth, as you always do, side by side with us, against oppression and racism everywhere.