According to the Israeli promoters, Merrill Garbus said the cancellation of the tUnE-yArDs gig at the Barby in Tel Aviv was for personal reasons, but they believe it was political.
Merrill Garbus is a signatory of the 500 Artists Against Israeli Apartheid letter published in February 2010, so it’s fair to think the cancellation indeed was political.
Montreal artists are now joining this international campaign to concretely protest the Israeli state’s ongoing denial of the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in and protected by international law, as well as Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza, which also constitutes a violation of international law and multiple United Nations resolutions.
Palestinian citizens face an entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation, resembling the defeated apartheid system in South Africa. A matrix of Israeli-only roads, electrified fences, and over 500 military checkpoints and roadblocks erase freedom of movement for Palestinians. Israel’s apartheid wall, which was condemned by the International Court of Justice in 2004, cuts through Palestinian lands, further annexing Palestinian territory and surrounding Palestinian communities with electrified barbed wire fences and a concrete barrier soaring eight meters high.
Gaza remains under siege. Israel continues to impose collective punishment on the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza, who still face chronic shortages of electricity, fuel, food and basic necessities as the campaign of military violence executed by the apartheid state of Israel endures. UN officials recently observed that the “situation has deteriorated into a full-fledged emergency because of the cut-off of vital supplies for Palestinians.” As a result of Israeli actions, Gaza has become a giant prison.
The global movement against Israeli apartheid, supported by a large majority of Palestinian civil society, is not targeted at individual Israelis but at Israeli institutions that are complicit in maintaining the multi-tiered Israeli system of oppression against the Palestinian people.
In fact, the Palestinian civil society BDS call, launched by over 170 Palestinian organisations in 2005, explicitly appeals to conscientious Israelis, urging them to support international efforts to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law and fundamental human rights, essential elements for a justice-based peace in the region. The present appeal is also rooted in an active engagement with many progressive Israeli artists and activists who are working on a daily basis for peace and justice while supporting the growing global movement in opposition to Israeli apartheid.
Israel uses all culture as propaganda to obscure and solidify its oppression – its use of music and musicians is no exception. A ubiquitous catchcry of Israel’s hasbara diplomats, many of whom are now paid for their efforts, is “Music should cross borders, not create them”. Yet in breaking the boycott, musicians undermine the peaceful tactic which Palestinian people have chosen to struggle for their rights. Musicians who respect the boycott conscientiously choose to support non-violent resistance to terrible injustice.
Israeli apartheid creates borders which no music can cross.
Rapper Talib Kweli rubs shoulders with British saxophonist Evan Parker, and the bassheads at Glitch Mob stand next to the Flaming Lips’ Kliph Scurlock. Alongside septuagenarians such as Roy Harper and Frederic Rzewski, there is Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus.