Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why Should Psy Boycott Israel?

by DPAI (UK, Australia, Ireland, USA)
It has been reported recently in Israeli media that on July 25, the South Korean rapper Psy is scheduled to appear at the Tel Aviv, Apartheid Israel Trade Show and Convention Center, and then in the resort city of Eilat two days later.  

South Koreans are aware that in December 2008 and January 2009, Israel waged an attack of aggression against Gaza that left 1,400 Palestinians, predominantly civilians, dead.   The massacre led the UN Goldstone Report to declare that Israel had committed war crimes.  Now, to cover up these war crimes, Israel has increased efforts to “brand” itself as an enlightened liberal democracy. Arts and culture play a special role in Israel’s branding efforts, as the presence of internationally acclaimed artists like Psy is meant to affirm Israel’s membership in the West’s privileged club of “cultured,” liberal democracies. But for many artists it is not business as usual with a state that routinely violates international law and basic human rights. Today, the boycott of Israel is so widespread that huge efforts are made to book what Israeli agents deem might be pro-apartheid artists, who might not care about human rights.

Psy's charismatic song and dance won't build bridges between Israel and the millions of Palestinians whom it oppresses.  Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank won't be allowed through the military checkpoints to get to the Apartheid Israel Trade Show and Convention Center, they won't be allowed to vacation in Eilat either.  Psy would be performing for the Israeli apartheid establishment, while being told that he is building bridges through his music, a ridiculous claim.

Why should Psy boycott Israel?  The reasons are many:

1. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under a brutal and unlawful military occupation.  Israel restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks strangling the West Bank.  All the while, Israel continues to build its illegal wall on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans.
2. Palestinian citizens of Israel face a growing system of Apartheid within Israel's borders, with laws and policies that deny them the rights that their Jewish counterparts enjoy.  These laws and policies affect education, land ownership, housing, employment, marriage, and all other aspects of people's daily lives. In many ways this system strikingly resembles Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa.
3. Since 1948, when Israel dispossessed more than 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form an exclusivist Jewish state, Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands.  Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).  Today, there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.
4. In Gaza, Palestinians have been subjected to a criminal and immoral siege since 2006.  As part of this siege, Israel has prevented not only various types of medicines, candles, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee and chocolate, but also musical instruments from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians incarcerated in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Bridges can be built through the boycott, as was the case in South Africa, with the ultimate result that everyone’s rights are respected.

The purpose of the boycott is to build pressure on Israel to respect the rights of Palestinians by ending its occupation and blockade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees who are prevented from returning to their homes just because they are not Jewish; and abolishing the numerous forms of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Psy's Israeli booking agents would like for Psy to ignore the reasons why the esteemed Professor Stephen Hawking chose to publically support the boycott of apartheid Israel.  

Hawking joins distinguished artists, writers, and anti-racist activists such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach Naomi Klein and the recently departed Iain Banks.
World-renowned artists, among them Roger Waters, Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless and the Pixies have also publicly supported the boycott and/or cancelled their performances in Israel over its human rights record.  Maxi Jazz (Faithless front-man) had this to say as he maintained his principled position not to entertain apartheid:
“While human beings are being willfully denied not just their rights but their needs for their children and grandparents and themselves, I feel deeply that I should not be sending even tacit signals that [performing in Israel] is either 'normal' or 'ok'. It's neither and I cannot support it. It grieves me that it has come to this and I pray everyday for human beings to begin caring for each other, firm in the wisdom that we are all we have.”

In the absence of action by the international community, it takes a boycott to bring about justice and rights. “Dialogue” or performing in Israel while also speaking out against it has failed to bring any change.

Today, Palestinian civil society groups are calling on artists to shun Tel Aviv in the same way that South African activists called on artists to boycott Sun City.  Psy, please refrain from crossing the picket line called by Palestinian society, don't play Israel gangnam style.