OPEN LETTER from BDS France to Alicia Keys: If you play in Tel Aviv, it will be before a segregated audience ...
Based in Paris, BDS France asks multi-platinum star Alicia Keys to cancel her gig in Israel.
c/o Jeff Robinson
240 West 35th Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10001
April 8, 2013
Dear Alicia Keys,
All your fans here in France are excited that you're coming to Paris in June. But we’re dismayed to learn that the organizers of your tour have included in your schedule a performance on July 4th in Tel Aviv.
Maybe you don't know that the Palestinians have appealed to international artists not to play in Israel while it continues to ignore all United Nations resolutions, flout international law, and deprive the Palestinian people of their most elementary human rights.
Maybe you don't know that in the past three years many prominent artists have responded to the appeal by refusing to appear in Israel, and others who had initially accepted to play there have cancelled their performances, preferring to show their support for the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli oppression.
They include Elvis Costello, Cat Power, Roger Waters, Cassandra Wilson, Stanley Jordan, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Annie Lennox, Eric Clapton, Brian Eno, U2, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Massive Attack, Gorillaz Sound System, The Pixies, Tuba Skinny, Pete Seeger, the late Gil Scott-Heron, Jello Biafra… Macy Gray is one artist who did perform there in 2011, but she regretted it and won’t be going back. She stated publicly: “I had a reality check and I definitely would not have played there if I had known even the little that I know now.”
Israel's occupation has endured now for decades, and makes the Palestinians’ life a hell on earth. It’s an occupation that gobbles up Palestinian land to build vast illegal settlements and settlers-only roads. It’s an occupation that steals water - 80% of the West Bank's water is taken by Israel so that the settlers on their hilltops can have green lawns and fill their swimming pools, while in the villages below Palestinians have no running water. It’s an occupation that kills, tortures, humiliates, that imprisons men, women and children without charge or trial, bulldozes houses, herds Palestinians into walled ghettos and, through the checkpoints, roadblocks, and an apartheid-like pass system, prevents Palestinians from going to work, children from going to school, farmers from harvesting their crops, pregnant women and the critically ill from reaching hospital.
Israeli violence spares no one. Just last week, Hasan Barhoush, a frail 80-year old farmer, was brutally attacked by a group of Israeli settlers and now lies in hospital in Tulkarem. A different group of settlers hurled rocks at a school bus near Nablus, shattering windows and wounding young children, seven of whom had to be hospitalized. No Israeli will be punished for such savagery. That was just another ordinary day in occupied Palestine.
We think you're too smart not to realize that performing in Israel today is like making a political statement. Israel openly admits to using cultural events as a propaganda tool, and it will use your image in an attempt to camouflage something very systematic and very ugly. However much you believe that you can go there simply as an artist, your presence will be spun to paint this ruthless colonial society as being normal, and the unrelenting atrocities against the Palestinian people as something to be ignored. We sincerely hope you will think again.
It goes without saying that if you play in Tel Aviv, it will be before a segregated audience, because none of your Palestinian fans either in Gaza or in the West Bank just a short drive away, will be allowed to come and hear you. Is it conceivable that, during the long struggle against apartheid South Africa, you would have travelled there to perform for the white supremacists? If your answer is No, then you’re already willing to boycott a cruel and unjust system.
There’s a wave, Alicia – a whole international wave of people supporting justice for the Palestinians via consumer boycotts, academic boycotts, cultural boycotts. Cancel your gig and ride that wave – Please don’t go.