Dear Blixa and Teho,
We are very dismayed to see that you have a concert in Israel on 15th September this year and are writing to ask you to reconsider playing there and breaching the Palestinian picket line.
Many principled musicians chose to take a stand and cancelled their gigs in Israel and we hope you will join them. As Thurston Moore explained after he cancelled last year: “It was with serious deliberation that I eventually arrived at the personal conclusion that to perform with my band in Israel was in direct conflict to my values. With the realization that a cultural and academic boycott is central to its purpose in exposing a reality of brutal human rights violations – including those accompanying Israel’s discriminatory laws and occupation of the West Bank – I felt the need, with humility, to cancel the engagement.”
Many artists of conscience have chosen not to play there since Palestinians are denied their most basic human rights by Israel. They have heeded the Palestinian call to boycott which was issued in 2005 and has the support of more than 200 civil society organisations.
Large swathes of Palestinian land have been stolen and ethnically cleansed for the development and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Currently over 500,000 illegal settlers live in the West Bank in direct contravention of international law.
Palestinians are denied their fundamental right to freedom of movement. A vast matrix of checkpoints, roadblocks, walls and fences separates local villages and towns from each other, and sometimes even cuts entire towns in half. Israeli settlers face no such restrictions, they travel on Jewish-only roads and live in illegal Jewish-only settlements at the expense of Palestinians. This Israeli government policy of segregation has had a devastating effect on the livelihoods and family life of millions of Palestinians and is uniformly condemned by human rights groups. Many of those who resisted and protested South African apartheid are horrified by the brutality of Israeli apartheid and how it is used against the Palestinians. You will be playing to a segregated audience if you play this gig.
In 2014 Israel’s bombardment of Gaza’s dense civilian population killed over 2,200 Palestinians, with 550 children murdered and thousands more injured. Over 100 thousand people have been left homeless. Israel carried out similarly devastating massacres in 2012 and in 2008-2009. UN reports have found significant evidence of war crimes in these attacks including the use of white phosphorus – a chemical weapon, and the murder of unarmed civilians carrying white flags. Of course, no sanction has been invoked against the perpetrator of these crimes which is why it is so important that civil society act.
To compound the misery, virtually no building materials are allowed due to the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza which controls what commodities enter, even down to the amount and type of food and medical supplies, and leave the territory.
Palestinians are also subjected to mass imprisonment. The Israeli military has detained around 750,000 Palestinians since 1967. The Israeli army tries prisoners – including minors – in closed and unaccountable military courts, denies them access to lawyers, subject them to tortures and abuses, all in contravention of international law.
Further to the situation of the 4 million + Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the 1.5 million Palestinians having Israeli citizenship face racial discrimination enshrined in more than 50 Israeli laws that systematically, directly or indirectly, discriminate against them. There are also approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees scattered worldwide who are denied their right to return to their homes.
Since October 2015 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the militarily occupied West Bank.
This Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, modelled on the boycott against apartheid South Africa, is supported by over 1,000 culture workers in the UK alone and many more artists worldwide. The boycott has been respected by many artists, including: Leftfield, the Killers, Thurston Moore, Lauryn Hill, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Massive Attack and Alice Walker.
Israel is all too aware of the power that artists wield. Since 2006 it has been running an aggressive PR campaign it calls ‘Brand Israel’, deliberately using culture as propaganda. This PR campaign seeks to promote an image of the state as a peace living, fun and vibrant liberal democracy, and obscure its violent and racist reality. The aim is to promote a false image in order to distract from the harsh realities of occupation, dispossession and wanton destruction.
Israeli promoters and propagandists for Israel tell musicians that art should not mix with politics and that artists do not play for the government but merely entertain ordinary people. But in fact, Israel has been using artists who breached the boycott as a means of legitimising their crimes against the Palestinian people.
You face a choice – you can stand up for human rights and against oppression and injustice by respecting the Palestinian boycott call. Or you can allow yourself to be cynically used for the whitewashing of apartheid.
We hope that you will cancel your planned gig in Israel on September 15th and refuse to entertain Israeli apartheid.
Many thanks for reading, in solidarity,
DPAI (Don’t Play Apartheid Israel)
We are a group, of over 1700, representing many countries 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.