Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stevie Wonder: “It’s Wrong” to sing for Israeli Apartheid


An open letter to Stevie Wonder:
Photo credit: FayesVision/WENN
How could you have considered singing for Israeli apartheid and occupation?
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“I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children . . . this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner and leading anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa, now a leading proponent of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.---
We welcome your decision to withdraw from participating in the fundraiser for Israeli Defence Forces held on 6 December 2012.  But our joy is diminished by our continuing shock and sadness that a man whose music has uplifted us all for decades, who has condemned racism, and who has even been arrested protesting South African apartheid, allowed himself to be billed at an event that would help raise millions for ethnic cleansing, murder and maiming of a civilian population.

The December 6 fundraiser was scheduled weeks after the latest bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli military. The attack started with Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari.  Hours before he was assassinated, he was working on a truce agreement which Israel knew – yet they chose to kill him.[1]  The attack which followed had the support of weapons and money from the US.

The US funds Israel to the tune of $3 billion annually.  It is vital that people of colour in the US be accountable to people of colour outside of the US who bear the brunt of the brutality this military inflicts, by opposing the funding of war, domination and occupation of Palestine.


Between 14 and 21 November, Israeli bombing killed 174 Palestinians, 16 of whom were children.  Another 1399 people were injured, including 465 children, 254 women and 91 older men.[2]  Thousands are homeless and traumatised, and wide swathes of Gaza demolished.  Women who are the primary caregivers everywhere and who do the work of struggling to keep communities together against the ravages of war, occupation and ecological devastation, have been hardest hit in Gaza.

Sixty-four years ago, the people of Palestine were rounded up and forced to leave their homes, their lands, all that was familiar.  Prior to the displacement, Palestinian and Jewish people lived together.  Now Palestinians have no right to return to their homelands, and Jewish-only settlements and roads continue to be built on it.  Israel’s apartheid wall separates families, divides farms, villages and towns, and has created a food crisis in Gaza which most impacts children, pregnant women, sick, disabled and older people.  Destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure means 95% of drinking water is so polluted that increasing numbers of babies are born blue from lack of oxygen due to this pollution.  This is “slow” genocide.

As always, women and girls bear the brunt of this unrestrained violence – in the family, in the fields, at checkpoints and in the face of poverty, injury and death, women care for traumatised children and grieving family members, deny themselves food so that children can eat, protecting their loved ones as best they can.  But the people of Palestine refuse to surrender!  They courageously face down the tanks attempting to destroy their homes and communities.  They campaign for justice for prisoners and provide practical support.  It is this caregiving survival work by women that holds families and communities together in the face of Israeli aggression – they keep hope alive.  In May 2012 thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike, with thousands taking to the streets in support, inspiring people all over the world to rally to their cause.

As Women of Colour from Africa, Guyana, Haiti, India, Peru, UK and US we share a history of struggling to survive against all odds with Palestinian people.  We have suffered under slavery, apartheid and caste systems; in the US the legacy is present-day poverty, deprivation and criminalization of our communities.  There are more Black people in prison, on probation, or parole in the US than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”[3]  In a similar way, Gaza has become “the world’s largest open-air prison”[4] and its people criminalised for refusing to submit.

Earlier this year, there were race riots in Tel Aviv; a lawmaker from the ruling party called African immigrants “a cancer”, and there was widespread support for his statement among Israelis.  Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon, called for the Israeli army to “flatten” Gaza as the US flattened Hiroshima in 1945.[5] The Palestinian territories are treated like Bantustans, complete with pass laws, segregation and other racist violence. “Racism is one continuum: if it is unchallenged anywhere, its poison spreads everywhere . . . to be anti-racist we must beagainst every racism.  In the US especially we must oppose Zionism which has passed itself off as national liberation for Jewish people while imposing apartheid on Palestinians”.[6]

In 2005 Palestinian people, building on the actions of those who opposed apartheid in South Africa, called for the world to support their right to survive and bring economic pressure to bear on Israel through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, including boycott of goods, cultural events, education.  We ask you to join the increasing numbers of people of goodwill around the world including: John Berger, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Selma James, Ronnie Kasrils, Professor Robin Kelley (who signed a statement with other Black academics), Naomi Klein, Henning Mankell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker and others supporting the Palestinian people.

Stevie Wonder: Don’t Let Yourself Be Used by Israel to Whitewash their Atrocities!

We call on you to encourage other musicians and artists to join you in the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

We look forward to your response.

Women of Colour in the Global Women Strike
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews London NW5 2DX
T: 020 7482 2496  F: 020 7267 7297

2.   Stephen Lendman http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/52934 
4.       Impressions of Gaza, Noam Chomsky, November 4, 2012, http://chomsky.info/articles/20121104.htm

People of Colour Oppose Zionism and Every Racism in Support of Palestinian Struggle for Liberation