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PACBI-Incubus: “If not now, when?” -- Appeal to cancel gig in apartheid Israel

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16 May 2015

Incubus: “If not now, when?” -- Appeal to cancel gig in apartheid Israel

“If not now, when?,” asks your most recent album released in 2011 to critical acclaim.  Millions of Palestinians languishing under Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid have appealed to conscientious artists all over the world to refrain from playing in Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa, until it recognizes our rights under international law.  If not now, when? It is our turn to ask you.


The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is deeply troubled to learn that you are scheduled to perform near Tel Aviv on June 9, 2015, while Israel continues unabatedly with its severe oppression against the Palestinian people. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev) and the Jordan Valley, building illegal colonies on occupied Palestinian land, and continuing the medieval siege of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are among the direst aspects of this regime of oppression. Why would a socially responsible band like you lend its name to such a regime?


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 an apartheid system that is comparable -- if not worse -- to the one that existed in South Africa.


Aside from its occupation and denial of Palestinian refugee rights, Israel maintains more than 50 racist laws that discriminate against its “non-Jewish” citizens, the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state. [1]  Even the U.S. Department of State has criticized Israel’s “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens. [2]


Today, the latest target of Israel’s racist policies are the approximately 60,000 African migrants and asylum seekers who have crossed into the country for shelter from fleeing persecution and abject poverty in their home countries.  Instead of offering them protection, Israel regards the African migrants as a threat to the “character of the Jewish identity of the state.” [3]  Under its repressive laws African asylum seekers can be imprisoned for up to a year and unlawfully offered a small monetary sum to leave the country. [4]


Regardless of your intentions and how you perceive your art, performing in Israel offers it a fig leaf to cover its human rights violations with.  As Elvis Costello wrote, after cancelling a scheduled, sold-out performance in Tel Aviv in 2010:


“There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.” [5]


This is certainly such an occasion.  This past summer, Israel committed what some world leaders considered a massacre [6] against the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, killing more than 2,168 Palestinians, including over 500 children. [7]  Israel’s 51-day long assault annihilated entire families in their homes. [8]  All what remains of these families are the official records documenting that they ever existed. 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.” [9]


Aside from Elvis Costello, prominent international artists from Roger Waters, Sting, the late Gil Scott Heron, Snoop Dog, Carlos Santana, Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power and Faithless, among others, have all cancelled their performances in Israel. 


As Archbishop Tutu states, “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, appeal to you to respect our struggle.  We ask you not to undermine our non-violent resistance and to refrain from crossing a picket line called for by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive Israelis [10].  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.  We, similarly, are struggling for freedom, justice and equality.  


We hope you shall heed our appeal.  If not now, when?








[4] Ibid


[6] Brazil’s president and France’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014 as a “massacre.”





Posted on 16-05-2015

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