OPEN LETTER to Red Hot Chili Peppers: Please cancel your gig in Israel

Special thanks to Gaelic for the letter.
Dear Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer,In 2005, Palestinian Civil Society called for a cultural boycott of Israel.  Red Hot Chili Peppers, as artists of conscience, please don’t ignore the nonviolent approach of  Palestinian people by breaching the boycott.  Your solidarity with the cultural boycott is needed.

The boycott call by Palestine has become a global movement, and with good reason.   The tragic plight of Native Americans parallels the plight of the indigenous people of Palestine.   In the case of Palestine, approximately 4.2 million people are subjected to Israel’s harsh form of apartheid.  Israel’s Jewish population is about 5 million.  The collective punishment of 1.5 million people in Gaza and 2.7 million people in the West Bank/Occupied Jerusalem is a crime against humanity.

Imagine if the population in the US of 312 million existed side-by-side with 262 million “other” people that were subject to military control.  Moreover, Israel’s policy is based on the “other” person’s lack of a privileged ethnoreligious identity, so those (who through no choice of their own) who are not born into the state-designated religion must endure the tragic life of occupation, racism, and discrimination.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine recently concluded that “Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.” [1]  Jeff Halper, an Israeli professor of anthropology, testified, saying: “the situation in Israel was ‘ugly’ and ‘more than just the separation of people’.  “If you look at the map of the region, you can see the bantu state that has been created,” said Halper. [2]

Since the release of the Russell Tribunal’s findings, over 150 Swiss artists have signed up to respect the boycott, stating “We note that the non-violent boycott, when it gains wide popular support, is an effective means of putting pressure on those in power.”[3]

Sadly, since you already agreed to play in Israel, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s name is already being used by a strong arm of Israeli hasbara, the CCFP, which declares that Israel is a safe haven for refugees, and is “devoted to serving as a refuge for people in need.” [4]
You probably are not aware of the arduous plight of the Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel.  The Knesset plans to pass a law that would bring a minimum three-year prison term for asylum seekers and their children, and a five-year prison term for those who offer humanitarian aid to refugees. [5]  The declared purpose of the amendment is to deter asylum seekers from entering Israel.

Palestinians comprise the world’s largest group of refugees, 4.7 million are registered with the UN.  They are refugees as a direct result of Israel’s policy that amounts to ethnic cleansing.  Native Americans and black South Africans underwent similar horrors, and it is time to approach Israel’s racist policies with bold statements, similar to when musicians sang to the tune of “I ain’t gonna play Sun City.”

The CCFP is using the good name of many of your colleagues in the music industry, reportedly without their permission.[6] Please cancel your show, so you will not be used further as part of Israel’s whitewashing campaign to make the Israeli “Brand” look deceptively enticing and alluring.

Many artists of conscience have quietly cancelled their planned gigs in the apartheid state, chosen not to book concerts when asked, and not rescheduled. They include (in 2011 alone) Jon Bon Jovi, Vanessa Paradis, August Burns Red, Marc Almond, Tuba Skinny, Eddie Palmieri, and more.  Some artists have taken the bold step of speaking publicly in support of the cultural boycott of Israel, such as musical icon Roger Waters, Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack), Martha Frintzila, Natacha Atlas and Faithless.

Please cancel your gig in Israel’s Sun City, Tel Aviv.  Don’t show your fans that you will let your band be used to legitimize home demolitions, illegal raids, the use of white phosphorous, political and child imprisonments, racist marriage bans, piracy and execution in international waters, collective punishment, Occupation, checkpoints, roadblocks, and the bombing and closing of all manner of educational institutions.

These lyrics of yours could be sung by the Palestinians who live within Israel and endure discrimination daily:

…I was born in a land, I don’t think you understand

God damn, what I am

I’m a native of this place, please don’t kick me in the face

My race has been disgraced…
Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer, please remain strong men of conscience, say you will stand with oppressed Palestinian people and respect their plea for you to boycott Israel.
Best Regards,
DPAI
We are a group, of over 800  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.

NOTES
[1] Full Russell Tribunal statement at http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/south-africa/south-africa-session-%E2%80%94-full-findings/cape-town-session-summary-of-findings
[2] Palestinians’ plight worse than aparthied http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/palestinians-plight-worse-than-apartheid-1.1173114
[3] Declaration of Swiss Artists, We Refuse to be Complicit http://www.bds-info.ch/fr/actualites/Declaration-of-Swiss-Artists
[4] A safe haven: refugees http://www.creativecommunityforpeace.com/Israel%20Is.asp
[5] Israel jails asylum seekers, labels them “infiltrators” http://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-jails-asylum-seekers-labels-them-infiltrators/10656#.Tt4f3rIk6dA
[6] CCFP uses Macy Gray sans her permission http://refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/ccfp-uses-macy-gray-sans-her-permission

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