OPEN LETTER to Oumou Sangaré…Don’t close your eyes to torment

Dear Oumou Sangaré,

In 2005 Palestinian civil society, almost unanimously, called for international artists to refuse to perform in Israel as part of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) campaign which is a non-violent method of holding Israel accountable to standards of equality and human rights that nations such as ours are accustomed to. If you perform in Israel it will be a rejection of that appeal made not just by the Palestinian BDS movement, but by the Global BDS movement.

When you booked your concert in Israel, you probably did not think about the siege of Gaza or the Israeli carpet bombing of the Strip with white phosphorous and other brutal weapons resulting in the death of over 1,400 Palestinians, over 300 of them children, as well as the maiming of thousands.

As a typical piece of Israeli propaganda, people are led into meeting the needs of Israelis and concentrating on the Israeli sufferings, while ignoring the much greater sufferings imposed by Israel, which forces millions of Palestinians into living as refugees and in destitution. The boycott is about turning away from the policy of appeasement of the oppressor and of standing in solidarity with the oppressed.

The campaign asking you to cancel your concert has no intention to hurt or embarrass you, however, there was great pain and dismay among many of your fans when they heard you chose to entertain the state that inflicted the slaughter of so many children in Gaza.  Oumou Sangaré, many of your songs denounce violence against women.  The pain Israel inflicts on Palestinian women and children is well represented in children’s artwork and in the piece of artwork entitled “Torment” by Najah.  See

All artists objecting to the Israeli regime’s actions have justified their booked performances in Israel as acts of support for the Israeli “peaceniks.”  Recently, another performing musician, Natacha Atlas, wrote:
“I had an idea that performing in Israel would have been a unique opportunity to encourage and support my fans’ opposition to the current government’s actions and policies. I would have personally asked my Israeli fans face-to-face to fight this apartheid with peace in their hearts…”
Natacha Atlas then confirmed that she decided to cancel, explaining:
“after much deliberation I now see that it would be more effective a statement to not go to Israel until this systemised apartheid is abolished once and for all. Therefore I publicly retract my well-intentioned decision to go and perform in Israel…”

Some of the artists who initially breached the boycott and performed in Israel, believing they would be supporting justice by appeasing so called Israeli “peaceniks,”  now wholeheartedly support the cultural boycott.
For example, Roger Waters breached the boycott, then changed his position and later wrote:
“Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.  This is [however] a plea to my colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines, to join this cultural boycott.
Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa’s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel.”

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has this view:
“International Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Apartheid regime, combined with the mass struggle inside South Africa, led to our victory … Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong … to perform in Israel“.
Oumou Sangaré, your association promotes freedom, justice, and the rights of children and women around the world.  For this reason, we feel you are a musician of integrity, and we hope you will also support the oppressed Palestinians. We know you may have felt the pain of Gaza when Israel pounded it with thousands of tons of explosives. You would know that children in Gaza are not just children.  As in the heartbreaking short film: “One Family in Gaza”, the children do play in the rubble of their house, but their little souls cannot escape the trauma of being shot at and seeing their home bombed and their brother repeatedly shot, even after his death.   Jen Marlowe, made this film showing the children play, she doesn’t show the bombing, but lets their loving parents speak of their anguish:

The Israeli state has a multi-million dollar hasbara [the Hebrew equivalent to propaganda] and thousands of recruits to propagate the hasbara, especially targeting social networks. The Israeli promoters who bring the artists were even invited to the Israeli Knesset to discuss the anti-boycott campaign and the Israeli regime agreed on financial support to those who bring artists from abroad. Israeli ministers have stated the significance of culture in whitewashing the Israel I crimes [though they used different wording but we are happy to send you the quotes].

You don’t need us to tell you how mainstream media in France has been in denial of the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, starting from the Nakba in 1948, through the current apartheid and racism.
Occasionally we get a big boost to our campaign, when artists choose to make a statement in the media, such as Massive Attack on
Similarly, when Elvis Costello posted his message on his own website the international and Israeli media published it widely.

Against the massive well oiled Israeli hasbara, all we have is the public sphere, such as blogging and social networks like Facebook. This is how we inform artists like yourself about the boycott. This is how we spread the word of the BDS to all people concerned with human rights.
In honor of Palestinian woman’s rights,  freedom, justice and the rights of innocent children like the dear ones in Jen Marlowe’s film, please refrain from performing in Israel.

Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

We are a group, of 780 members, representing many nations around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.


BDS – Let’s Help to Stop Artists from Enabling Apartheid Israel

Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

Friends, please like and share these BDS pages calling on artists not to play apartheid Israel, asking them to say no to normalisation, no to appropriation of culture, no to occupation, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

The more people who ‘like’ these pages, the more weight they have with the artists and the greater the possibility  of them cancelling.

The global solidarity movement for Palestine is huge, let’s show our strength and our numbers and let artists know that no-one should play for apartheid and everyone should stand for justice for the Palestinian people.

Thanks friends, shukran ketir.

December/January 2011/2012 UPDATED BDS Pages

Arch Enemy: Resist Playing for Apartheid Israel

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Defy Injustice, Cancel Israel

Ana Moura: Please Don’t Sing for Apartheid

Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream for justice, not apartheid

Jane Birkin: No Balance with Apartheid

Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel

In Turkish:John Michael McDonagh Cancels His Attendance at the Haifa International Film Festival Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: “Guard” Filminin Yönetmeni Orada Olmayacak…

              Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: “Guard” Filminin Yönetmeni Orada Olmayacak…

15 Ekim 2011

İsrail’e kültürel boykot için önemli zafer! John Michael McDonagh Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’nde boy göstermeyecek!

John Michael McDonagh, İrlanda-Filistin Dayanışma Kampanyası’nın (IPSC) Kültürel Boykot Yetkilisi Raymond Deane ile irtibata geçti ve “siyasi durumu göz önüne alarak” Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’nde filmi “The Guard”ın gösterimine katılmaktan çekildiğini bildirdi.

Filmi “Guard” gösterilecek olmasına karşın böyle zaferler önemli ve İsrail kültürel etkinliklerinde boy göstermenin sanatçılara, müzisyenlere, film yapımcılarına ve daha birçoğuna giderek nasıl çekici gelmediğini gösteriyor. BDS kampanyası sayıca ve güç olarak büyüyor.

Boykot hakkında John Michael McDonagh’a bilgi vermek için çaba gösterildi. “Don’t Play Apartheid Israel” ile birlikte PACBI (İsrail’e Akademik ve Kültürel Boykot İçin Filistin Kampanyası), İrlanda Filistin Dayanışma Kampanyası (IPSC), Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: Bir Boykot Çağrısı Facebook sayfası ve ilgili insanların diğer çabaları, John Michael McDonagh’ı apartheidin “siyasi durumunun” hiç kimsenin onaylamaması gerektiğine ikna etmeye yardımcı oldu.

[1] John Michael McDonagh’a festivale katılmamasının istendiği 7 Ekim tarihli mektup

[2] Ayrıca bkz. John Michael McDonagh’a festivale katılmaması için yapılan çağrı için.

[3]  Bkz. İsrail apartheidini ve John Michael McDonagh’ın Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’ne katılmaması nedenleri açıklayan gönderiler için.

Kaynak:  PACBI

Filistin İçin İsrail’e Karşı Boykot Girişimi tarafından çevrilmiştir.

John Michael McDonagh Cancels His Attendance at the Haifa International Film Festival

John Michael McDonagh has contacted the Cultural Boycott Officer of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), Raymond Deane to say that he has pulled out of attending the screening of his film The Guard at the Haifa International Film Festival  “in view of the political situation”.

Although the film will still be screened, such victories are significant  and illustrative of how appearing at Israeli cultural events is becoming increasingly unattractive to artists, filmmakers etc as the BDS campaign goes from strength to strength.

I’m sure the PACBI, IPSC, DPAI calls, the Haifa International Film Festival:  A Call to Boycott Facebook page  and everyone’s great efforts, helped to persuade John Michael McDonagh that “the political situation” of apartheid is not something anyone should endorse.

Open Letter to John Michael McDonagh from Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

Dear John Michael McDonagh,

We write you this letter in the hope that you will carefully consider cancelling your participation in and the screening of your film “The Guard” at the Haifa International Film Festival in October 2011 in Israel.  Your participation will undoubtedly be interpreted as a political statement in support of Israel’s harsh and illegal apartheid.

As described by the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI), “the Festival is sponsored by Israel’s political establishment, from the Minister of Culture and Sport to the Mayor of the city of Haifa. The Israeli Haifa elite celebrates Haifa as “a city that has become a symbol of co-existence, tolerance and peace,” in flagrant contradiction to the realities of segregation, discrimination, and racism suffered by the native Palestinian residents of Haifa, and in denial of Israel’s violent history of ethnic cleansing in that city.” [1] Thus, by screening “The Guard” at this festival, you would be lending your support to the Israeli government and its policies of apartheid, occupation and war crimes against the Palestinian people.

The PACBI call to boycott has been made by over 200 Palestinian civil society organisations, and has been endorsed by filmmakers and  artists such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Roger Waters, Pixies, Iain Banks, Leftfield, Arundhati Roy, Elvis Costello, Naomi Klein, John Berger, Breyten Breytenbach and Gil-Scott Heron among others. Indeed, since 2006, Ken Loach has refused to participate in the Haifa Film Festival or any other cultural events in Israel while this terrible oppression of the Palestinian people continues. [2] [3] [4]

Over 200 artists in Ireland, including great directors and actors, have signed a pledge to boycott Israel. [5] These artists refuse to allow their work to be exploited by an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights.  Attending cultural events in Israel truly is a political statement in support of apartheid, and against human rights.  Please be aware of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement in 2005 that “We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.”

The BDS (Boycott, Divesment and Sanctions) movement has reached global proportions and people around the world are joining in solidarity with the oppressed people who live under Israel’s harsh, oppressive, racist apartheid system.

There are many reasons not to participate in this film festival, some of them follow. The recent International Red Cross report on the siege of Gaza demonstrates how terribly damaging it is to Palestinians. [6] The siege most definitely constitutes human rights abuse. Also, the UN Report of 200found that Israel commited war crimes in its assault on Gaza in 2008/2009, including using white phosphorous on civilians and using human shields. [7]

In the light of last year’s murder of humanitarian activists by the Israeli military and the ongoing illegal and immoral siege of Gaza, as well as the occupation of Palestine, it is profoundly important that Israel not be allowed to profit from artists visiting the state until it upholds international law. Apartheid was wrong in South Africa and is wrong in Israel; please take a stand against it. [8] [9]

Our sincere hope is that you honour both  your craft and human rights,  and refuse to cross the picket line drawn by the Palestinian call for cultural boycott and cancel your film screening in Israel.


Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

We are a group of 774 members representing many nations around the globe, who believe that it is essential for artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.

[1]  Israeli International Festivals: Occasions for Whitewashing Oppression or Resisting it?

[2] Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

[3] After the Flotilla Massacre: Cultural Boycott of Israel Takes Off

[4] Filmmaker Ken Loach Joins the Cultural Boycott of Israel

[5] IPSC “Irish artists’ pledge to boycott Israel”

[6] Gaza Closure: Not Another year!

[7]  UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

[8] Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) study : Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

[9] United Nations Report on Movement and Access in the West Bank