The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is deeply troubled to learn that you are scheduled to perform in Rishon Lezion’s Live Park amphitheater on May 7, 2015, while Israel continues unabatedly with its settler colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress and ethnically cleanse native Palestinians from their homeland. As a conscientious artist who opposes racial oppression, we urge you to cancel your performance and boycott Israel until it complies with international law and ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.
Performing in Israel today is the equivalent of performing in Sun City South Africa during the apartheid era. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils have repeatedly declared that Israel has created a form of racial apartheid that is far worse than anything that existed in South Africa. As a woman of colour and conscientious artist we urge you not to lend your name to cover up Israel’s crimes.
You may not be aware of this but for 100 Palestinians have been resisting Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid for over 64 years. Miles away from where you are set to perform, over 4.5 million native Palestinians are imprisoned within a system of Bantustans and spatial enclosures between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the largest open air prison in the world. You are scheduled to perform on May 7th, a week before we Palestinians commemorate the catastrophe of 1948.
In 1948, the state of Israel was established by systematically dispossessing and ethnically cleansing more than 750,000 native Palestinian people in order to create an exclusivist Jewish state; Israel has denied Palestinian refugees, who today number more than 7 million people, their internationally recognized right to return to their homes. Israel also continues to expel native Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev), and it maintains more than 50 racist laws that discriminate against its “non-Jewish” citizens, the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state . Today, the latest target of Israel’s racist colonial policies are the approximately 60,000 African migrants who have crossed into the country seeking shelter as refugees, often fleeing persecution in their home countries. Instead of offering them protection, the Israel regards the African migrants as a threat to the “character of the Jewish identity of the state” . Under its racist laws African asylum seekers can be imprisoned for up to a year and unlawfully offered a small monetary sum to leave the country .
The struggles of indigenous Palestinians and African asylum seekers would be best served if you to stake a principled stance against Israel’s racist and colonial oppression by refusing to entertain Israeli apartheid. As you yourself so eloquently sing, “Black Rage is founded on blatant denial… deafening silence and social control.” Please do not perpetuate the silence and the wall of denial that stops the world from seeing the daily realities of degradation, racial terror, land theft, ethnic cleansing that we Palestinians are struggling against, and similarly prevent people from acknowledging the racist exclusion and repression that African asylum seekers are resisting.
Performing in Israel serves as a stamp of approval for Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been subject to a criminal and life-threatening siege since 2007 that has been described by former UN Special Rapporteur for Human rights, Richard Falk, as a “prelude to genocide.” This past summer Israel unleashed a murderous campaign against besieged Gaza and killed more than 2,168 Palestinians, including over 500 children ; Israel annihilated entire families in their homes, as its warplanes targeted and bombed house after house . A racist Israeli chant mocked the hundreds of Palestinian children murdered by Israel during its massacre in Gaza: “Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left”.
Your concert comes at a time when relations between African American and indigenous Palestinian struggles against anti-Black racism and settler colonialism are being strengthened. The Dream Defenders recently brought a delegation of leaders from Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement to Palestine to deepen these connections “in the spirit of Malcom X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others” . We ask you to follow in their path and join us in building these relationships.
Prominent international artists from Roger Waters, Sting, the late Gil Scott Heron, Snoop Dog, Carlos Santana, Cold Play, Lenny Kravitz, Cassandra Wilson, Elvis Costello, Cat Power and Faithless among others, have all cancelled their performances in Israel..As Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu insists “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
PACBI and the broader BDS movement, representing the absolute majority of Palestinian civil society, thus appeal to you to respect our struggle. We ask you to uphold our strategy of non-violent resistance and refrain from crossing a picket line called for by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive Israelis . Standing in solidarity with struggles against racism, as in the case of the civil rights movement in the US, and the fight against apartheid in South Africa, was powerful in bringing an end to racial injustice and colonial oppression. Be part of the fight against Israel’s colonialism and apartheid and strengthening the connections between the African American and Palestinian peoples. It is only by standing in solidarity with one another that we can bring about freedom, justice and equality.
Posted on 01-04-2015