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8 December 2012

Open Letter to Joy Harjo: Heed the Call of Conscience and Cancel your Tel Aviv Show!

Occupied Palestine

   
Dear Joy Harjo,
 
We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urge you to cancel your performance at Tel Aviv University set for Monday, December 10, 2012.   We hope that this urgent appeal from us, a campaign that enjoys overwhelming consensus amongst Palestinian civil society, will convince you to cancel this show.  It is not too late!
 
Tel Aviv University, as other Israeli academic institutions, is notorious for its deep and well documented collaboration with the Israeli military and intelligence establishment, its racially exclusivist university policy towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, and its refusal to acknowledge its past and to commemorate the destroyed Palestinian village on which grounds it was built. A comprehensive report presents strong evidence of intensive, purposive and open institutional cooperation of TAU with the Israeli military establishment [1].
 
We would find it especially disturbing should you choose to play in Tel Aviv, given Israel’s recent onslaught on Gaza, where more than 150 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 34 children [2]. Palestinian human rights organizations have accused Israel of war crimes including the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.  
 
This attack is just the latest stage of Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians living in Gaza. You may be shocked to learn that the Israeli establishment has attempted to besiege Gaza and rule its people through an enforced caloric diet, and a policy that sought to allow “for subsistence without the development of malnutrition,” essentially limiting the amount of food that would be permitted into the occupied strip of land, and strangling and starving an entire people in a policy of collective punishment.[3]
 
Today, for these reasons and more, Palestinian civil society groups are calling on artists to shun Tel Aviv in the same way that South African activists called on artists to boycott Sun City.  All we are asking is for you to refrain from crossing a picket line called by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive-Israelis [4].  Palestinian civil society is asking this of you as a most essential contribution to their struggle to achieve peace and justice.
 
We hope that you will not be persuaded by the argument that music builds bridges and can bring smiles to people’s faces, thus hopefully spreading a message of peace.  Any message of peace you hope to bring will be drowned by Israel’s well-oiled publicity that will use you to rebrand itself as a normal state that promotes music and culture and present your appearance as an endorsement of its policies [5]
 
Artists who have refused to play in Israel or cancelled performances following appeals from Palestinians and their allies include U2, the Pixies, and Gorillaz Sound System. Such cancellations undermine Israel’s ability to project an image of itself as a normal country rather that one that practices violent apartheid over the Palestinian people.
 
In refusing to publish her book with an Israeli publisher, Alice Walker recently invoked her own brave boycott of apartheid South Africa.  She wrote of how she decided to wait to bring her works to the people of South Africa, believing “deeply in non-violent methods of social change though they sometimes seem to take forever.”  Her waiting paid off, and she was so happy that after the downfall of that regime she was able to share her work.  In relation to Israel, she concluded:
 
I would so like knowing my books are read by the people of your country, especially by the young, and by the brave Israeli activists (Jewish and Palestinian) for justice and peace I have had the joy of working beside.  I am hopeful that one day, maybe soon, this may happen.  But now is not the time.
 
Joy Harjo, stand with Alice Walker, with the late Gil Scott Heron, with Elvis Costello, with Roger Waters, and with many others, and tell Israel that now is not the time.
 
Respectfully, 
PACBI
 
About PACBI
In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel’s occupation and apartheid [6].  The 2004 Palestinian call appealed to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied [7] and thus contribute to the continuation of injustice.  Following this, in 2005, an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing BDS campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality [8].  The BDS movement adopts a nonviolent, morally consistent strategy to hold Israel accountable to the same human rights standards as other nations. It is asking artists to heed the boycott call until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid." [9]
 

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10652.shtml

 

Posted on 08-12-2012


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