Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jacky Terrasson: Time to Make a choice, For or Against Human Rights and Justice

Jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson is being asked to respect the cultural boycott of Israel in an OPEN LETTER from BDS France. Terrasson is being urged to refrain from playing at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat.  Terrasson recently asked his fans on facebook to sign a petition in favor of gun control, which states:   How many more senseless and entirely PREVENTABLE shootings have to occur before we do something about Gun Control ... On December 14, 2012, a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and opened fire, killing 26 people, 20 of whom were children. Completely innocent unarmed victims. 
It is wonderful that Terrasson can use his influence to help people work for peace and stop school shootings.  Terrasson would also do well to take an anti-apartheid stand and refrain playing in Israel.  Other jazz greats have cancelled their plans to play at this year's Winter Red Sea Jazz Festival.  Stanley Jordan has declined his invitation, after engaging in a dialogue about the reason for the boycott on his facebook.  Portico Quartet also declined, and has voiced support for the palestinian-led BDS movement.  Grammy winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, with whom Terrasson worked with on the recording Rendezvous, also cancelled in 2012, taking a public political stand just before she was due to board a plane to Tel Aviv.  Israeli daily Ynet reported (in Hebrew, translated) that Wilson announced, “as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel.”     

BDS France's compelling letter:
Dear Jacky Terrasson,
First, let us wish you a happy new year 2013. You have been invited to play at the jazz festival in Eilat, Israel next month. Eilat is a seaside resort, distant from the politics and tragic events in the region. But does being far from the battlefield mean not hearing what’s happening a few dozen miles away?
Do you know that a whole swathe of the population is excluded and won’t be able to come and listen to the sounds of your piano? Despite UN Conventions, the Palestinian people remain under occupation and colonisation, confined behind an illegal separation Wall in the West Bank, hemmed in by the siege of Gaza, or living under a regime of State discrimination in Israel. The rest are refugees all around the world.
Dear Jacky Terrasson, on your Facebook page you denounce the prevalence of fire-arms in the United States. Could you today go to a country as violent as Israel is towards the native population, and play for a government that puts in place and encourages such violence?
You should know that the Eilat jazz festival is not merely a musical and cultural event. Organised with the aid of the Israeli Ministries of Culture and Tourism, it is directly associated with the government and its propaganda, attempting to pass Israel off as a State like any other. Israel uses such cultural events, at home and abroad, as a showcase for Israeli “democracy”. It wants at all cost to display its “normality”, to its own citizens and to foreigners abroad.
But Israel is not a normal State, nor is it democratic for all its citizens. It violates international law daily by its occupation and colonisation of land, it maintains an illegal blockade of Gaza, depriving a whole population of basic supplies and medical equipment, it continues day after day to expel, to imprison, and to demolish the homes of Palestinian families. Since the recent recognition of Palestine as an observer State at the United Nations, the Israeli government has retaliated by announcing the illegal construction of over 2,600 additional homes in the colonies of East Jerusalem. In the West Bank, over 600 checkpoints deprive the Palestinians of their freedom of movement, making access to water, to schooling, to health care, to employment, dependent on the arbitrary will of the military.
The international community closes its eyes and the Israeli government acts with total impunity. In the face of such injustice, Palestinian civil society, supported by the most progressive fringe of Israeli citizens, decided in 2005 to launch the BDS campaign: a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions as long as Israel goes on flouting international law. We, French citizens belonging to a variety of associations, formed the BDS French Campaign in order to pursue the struggle at all levels of French society.
Numerous international artists have already chosen not to play in Israel until its changes its politics. Just recently the groups Portico Quartet and Tuba Skinny, as well as the pianists Jason Moran and Eddie Palmieri, who were all invited to the Eilat jazz festival, have cancelled their performances there.
Other artists who have also cancelled their appearance in different Israeli cities include your friend Cassandra Wilson, Natacha Atlas, Cat Power, Jello Biafra, Lhasa, Gilles Vigneault, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Annie Lennox, Vanessa Paradis, Gil Scott-Heron, The Pixies and Massive Attack.
Dear Jacky Terrasson, we are asking you to join all these artists who refuse to be used to whitewash the Israeli regime and who choose to boycott that regime until it respects international law. To start the year well, we are asking you to cancel your participation in the Eilat jazz festival, showing that you refuse to be manipulated in the service of injustice that you do not support.
The French BDS Campaign