Wednesday, July 31, 2013

OPEN LETTER to Salif Keita: Boycott Israel, Stand with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel



Paris le 18 juin 2013

Cher Salif Keita, chers Amadou et Mariam, chers artistes maliens,

Vous êtes invités prochainement à venir vous produire en Israël.

Israël n’est pas un pays comme les autres. Son gouvernement, depuis de nombreuses années, piétine le droit international. A Jérusalem, par exemple, 2000 maisons palestiniennes ont été détruites, 14000 Palestiniens se sont vus retirer leur permis de séjours et 5300 enfants palestiniens ne sont pas scolarisés. A Gaza, maintenue sous blocus depuis 7 ans, toute une population périt faute d’avoir accès aux droits les plus fondamentaux. Le Mur et les check-points empêcheront la plupart des Palestiniens de Cisjordanie de venir assister à vos concerts qui seront, dans les faits, ségrégués. Dans les frontières même d’Israël, les citoyens arabes palestiniens, chrétiens ou musulmans, vivent dans une situation proche de celle de l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud dans les années 1980 : ils n'ont pas les mêmes droits et n'ont qu'un accès limité aux services dont bénéficient les citoyens juifs israéliens. Enfin, dans le reste du monde, Israël refuse toujours le droit au retour de millions de réfugiés palestiniens, bafouant ainsi les nombreuses résolutions de l’ONU. On peut décrire une telle situation par un vocabulaire riche, mais un mot s’impose à tous : la colonisation de la terre de Palestine par l’État israélien.

C’est pour toutes ces raisons qu’en 2005 la société civile palestinienne s’est résolue à demander le soutien de la société civile internationale pour mettre en place la campagne BDS (pour Boycott, Désinvestissements et Sanctions). Inspirés par la lutte des Sud-Africains contre l’apartheid, les Palestiniens appellent à cesser toute collaboration avec des institutions gouvernementales israéliennes jusqu’à ce qu’Israël respecte le droit international. Suivant l’appel des Palestiniens, nous ne boycottons jamais des individus, mais nous appelons au boycott, entre autres, des événements culturels quand ceux-ci sont organisés par des instances reliées au gouvernement israélien.

Face à l’impunité d’Israël, des militants et des citoyens de conscience relaient cet appel au BDS partout dans le monde. Des artistes de tous les pays et de tous styles musicaux ont entendu et répondu positivement à cet appel. Citons par exemple Cassandra Wilson, Natacha Atlas, Annie Lennox, Cat Power, Andy Kasrils, Ewok, Lhasa, Vanessa Paradis, Gilles Vigneault, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Jello Biafra, Les Pixies ou Massive Attack, mais aussi Peter Brook, Susan Sarrandon et de nombreux metteurs en scène et comédiens du monde entier.

Chers artistes maliens, l’invitation que vous recevez fait suite à celles que de nombreux autres artistes de votre pays ont reçues. Alors qu’Oumou Sangaré l’a déclinée, Vieux Farka Touré ou Fatoumata Diawara l’ont acceptée. Il n’est pas étonnant que vous soyez invités, vu votre immense talent et celui de nombre de vos compatriotes. Ce qui est étonnant c’est que ces invitations arrivent si soudainement, alors justement que le gouvernement israélien instrumentalise une dangereuse division en Afrique entre « Noirs » et « Arabes ». Chers artistes, ne soyez pas les otages de telles politiques cyniques et meurtrières.

Chers artistes africains, le gouvernement israélien s'est récemment illustré par des politiques extrêmement brutales envers ses immigrés (appelés « infiltrés »), philippins et africains en particulier. Il leur interdit d'envoyer de l'argent dans leur pays, les arrête et les enferme dans des camps, avant de les expulser sans ménagement. On a récemment vu des émeutes racistes contre les Noirs dans les rue de Tel Aviv, où un député a décrit l'immigration africaine comme un « cancer de la société israélienne ». Certes, votre présence fera oublier cette abjection, mais est-ce vraiment votre intention ?

Chers artistes maliens, la colonisation, son cortège d'injustices, de souffrances et de crimes ne vous sont pas étrangers, ils appartiennent aussi à l'histoire du Mali.

Ne vous méprenez pas : que vous le souhaitiez ou non, vos concerts seront interprétés comme un soutien au régime colonial israélien, et pas comme un simple événement culturel.

Nous espérons, au contraire, pouvoir vous compter parmi les artistes de conscience qui se sont joints au boycott.

Nous restons à votre entière disposition pour vous fournir toute autre information utile sur cette question.

Linda, pour la Campagne BDS France
Tél : 06 10 02 52 81

Campagne BDS France
21 ter rue Voltaire
75011 Paris

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

OPEN LETTER to Eric Burdon: Cancel Apartheid Israel Concert

Dear Eric Burdon,


It is with consternation we are aware you are booked to play Israel on August 1, 2013. We would like to inform you about the important means of resistance which has been chosen by Palestinian people to assist in their attainment of justice, rights and freedom after 65 years of oppression in the Palestinian homelands by Israel.


We are asking that you join the existing long list of performers of conscience and others [1] who respect the Palestinian-led global call to boycott until Israel


"meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:


1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."[2]


We understand you have spent time in the Negev, where at present under the vicious Prawer Plan,  Israel is demolishing the homes of, and expelling more than 40,000 Indigenous Palestinian Bedouin people against their will in order to "judaize" the Bedouins' homeland.[3] Surely you would support the boycott to protest this terrible act of ethnic cleansing.
Many of the classrooms in the Khan al-Ahmar school in the Negev are outdoors, Israel prevents them from building any schools.  During the cold season, only a tarpaulin  shelters the children from the rain. Photo by Tanya Habjouqa/Al Jazeera, see link for more.


You have been requested by Palestinians to stand against Israel's apartheid regime, which has been described as worse than that perpetrated by South Africa by several noted South African anti-apartheidists.


Baleka Mbete, National Chairperson of the ANC, former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa (2008-9) and former Speaker of the National Assembly at the 2012 African National Congress (ANC) International Solidarity Conference said that she has been to Palestine herself and that the Israeli regime is not only comparable but “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.” [4]


'As a South African newspaper editor, Mondli Makhanya, put it in after a 2008 trip to the Middle East: "It seems to me that the Israelis would like the Palestinians to disappear. There was never anything like that in our case. The whites did not want the blacks to disappear."'[5]


Especially since your music forms part of rock and roll's foundations, Eric, please don't permit yourself and your important legacy to be appropriated in the service of Israel's cynical propaganda to disguise the oppression and obliteration of Palestinian people.  Join Mira Nair, internationally-acclaimed director of Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala, who stated just last week:
'I was just invited to Israel as a guest of honor at the Haifa International Film Festival with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” I will not be going to Israel at this time. I will go to Israel when the walls come down. I will go to Israel when occupation is gone. I will go to Israel when the state does not privilege one religion over another. I will go to Israel when Apartheid is over. I will go to Israel, soon. I stand with the [Palestinian Campaign] for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.' [6]


In order to set a principled example alongside many artists and academics who have cancelled their appearances after being made aware of the boycott [7], we hope you will be persuaded to support the boycott of apartheid Israel wholeheartedly, and at the least, cancel your performance, refuse to cross the picket line and compromise the struggle for freedom of Palestinian people.


We are a group, of over 1000 members, representing many countries around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.



[1] http://www.bdsmovement.net/timeline
[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

[7] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2093

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Idan Raichel, Alicia Keys, Peres Center, Israeli Soldiers: Standing With Oppression

MEDIA RELEASE: In Israel, Alicia Keys Stood with Military Occupation and Oppression, Ignored Human Rights
by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: 
Anna Baltzer (202) 332-0994; organizer@endtheoccupation.org

In Israel, Alicia Keys Stood with Military Occupation and Oppression, Ignored Human Rights

July 24, Washington, DC
 – In the aftermath of Alicia Keys' recent concert in Israel, human rights advocates today revealed new information that they say showed that Keys went a step beyond ignoring the fundamental human rights of Palestinians and chose to stand with the Israeli regime of occupation and oppression. Keys performed in Tel Aviv on July 4 despite the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel, letters from novelist Alice Walker, Pink Floyd's Roger WatersDefense for Children International, and the Israeli group Boycott!, and a petition signed by 16,000 people, all calling on her to cancel her show as she would have in the apartheid South Africa era. Keys, with other artists, was said to be joining Stevie Wonder in a boycott of Florida over the Stand Your Ground law, but a Keys spokesperson has now denied that claim, as have a number of other artists.

Keys sang a duet at her concert in Tel Aviv with Idan Raichel, a self-described "cultural ambassador" for Israel. Later she reportedly visited "Thank Israeli Soldiers," an organization that aids Israel's occupation army and supported a May 2010 Israeli attack that killed a US citizen, and Israeli President Shimon Peres' misleadingly named "Peres Center for Peace." Keys also allowed her name to be repeatedly used by the Israeli government to prop up Israel's declining global image. Despite all this, Israeli security harassed members of Keys' band at the airport as they left, according to an eyewitness, possibly racially profiling them. (Details of all the aforementioned below)

Anna Baltzer from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation explained, "Keys claims to support human rights, and she talked about playing to unify audiences in 'peace and love,' but instead her actions conveyed support for Israel's government, military occupation and elites that impose a violent, discriminatory regime of oppression and apartheid on the Palestinian people. Instead of standing on the right side of history, her decision to break the boycott was akin to playing in South Africa's Sun City under apartheid, hosted by Afrikaner elites. Still, we expect that many others will choose instead to stand for justice, as Mira Nair and Stephen Hawking just have."

Andrew Kadi from the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation added, "We are not aware of any meaningful interactions that Keys had with Palestinians, despite many efforts to reach out and raise her awareness about Israel's multi-tiered system of oppression. Instead she visited "dialogue groups" with token Palestinian roles that perpetuate the bankrupt narrative that Palestinians and Israelis are two equal sides with a human relations problem. This is like suggesting that Jim Crow in the US could have been remedied by blacks and whites getting to know one another better, rather than through equal rights and an end to racially discriminatory laws and policies." In the run-up to Keys' concert, a group of 50 African Americans affirmed the similarity between Jim Crow in the US and Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Keys' invitation to Idan Raichel to perform with her in Tel Aviv seems to contradict her reported claimthat she "doesn't feel that she's playing for the state of Israel," because Raichel has said of his band, "We certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara [propaganda] ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict." Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently organized an African tour for Raichel to represent the country, and Raichel sees serving in the Israeli army "as a 'basic ingredient' to 'Israeliness.'" Palestinian citizens of Israel, 20% of Israel's population, generally do not serve in the army, and some Israeli Jews refuse military service. Raichel is also a member of the advisory board of Creative Community for Peace, a powerful Israel lobby in the US music industry that uses its connections to protect Israel from the fast-growing global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Raichel is a leading endorser of the right-wing US organization "Thank Israeli Soldiers" which Keys reportedly visited in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Thank Israeli Soldiers provides care packages to Israeli soldiers and, among other activities, in 2010 collected letters "of support to our brave and moral young men of the Shayetet 13 (Israeli Navy Seals), the unit which boarded the Flotilla." These Israeli soldiers killed 8 Turkish and one Turkish-American civilians, some, including the US citizen, execution style, when the Israeli military attacked the civilian aid ship the Mavi Marmara off the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip. A popular pro-Israel blog posted a photo of Keys standing next to a woman linked to the organization while purportedly visiting the "Thank Israeli Soldiers" office. The visit was later denied by the Israeli blog that initially posted the story and by Keys' PR firm, despite the apparent photographic evidence. Today a US activist went to the office of Thank Israeli Soldiers in the Old City of East Jerusalem, and, standing at the office door, was handed a folder of information about the organization by the same woman who was in the photo with Keys. The woman told the US activist that her name was Rachel. The US activist was not allowed to enter the office.

Keys' visit to Israel was proudly tweeted at least eight times by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and various Israeli consulates. Showing the importance the government attaches to major artists visits in light of Israel's growing cultural isolation, Israel's consulate in Philadelphia tweeted, "Alicia Keys blew Tel Aviv away at her July 4th concert, and Rihanna is next! Will you be at her October 22nd show?" There is no evidence that Keys and her representatives objected to the use of her name and performance by Israeli officials to the benefit of the state of Israel. However, Keys and her legal representative, the firm Ziffren, Brittenham, LLP, whose partner David Byrnes is also an advisory board member of Creative Community for Peace, took legal action to remove from Youtube a video made by activists of Palestinian women protesting set to the tune of "Girl on Fire" that called on Keys to cancel her show in Israel. CCP later asserted that the activists were using Keys' "work for their own self-gain."

Israeli media and the founder of the Israeli technology company Natie reported that Keys visited the Peres Center for Peace, an Israeli organization accused by Palestinian civil society of being "a leading colonial and apartheid institution." Shimon Peres, Israel's President and the center's founder, has cultivated the aura of a champion of peace, despite, as just one example, having ordered Israel's military assault on Southern Lebanon in 1996 that resulted in the massacre of 102 Lebanese civilians and wounding of hundreds more who had sought refuge inside a UN compound in Qana. The Peres Center has been denounced by Palestinian civil society organizations as "neither effective in bringing about reconciliation, nor desirable, and "hindering the path to just peace," and was characterized by an Israeli analyst as "patronizing and colonial." Keys' visit to the Peres Center appears to contradict her PR firm'sstatement to a reporter from Mondoweiss that "there was no planned visit with any group Israeli or Palestinian."

Keys also visited the US/Israeli organization Heartbeat that is also founded on the false premise that peace can be achieved merely through "dialogue," without addressing inequality and basic human rights.

All this support for Israel did not spare Keys' team from mistreatment. Dr. Rachel Mattson of the recentLibrarians and Archivists to Palestine delegation says that she ran into Keys' musicians at Ben Gurion airport as they were leaving the country on July 5: "I found myself being interrogated next to Alicia Keys' sound engineer. He was Latino. I saw 2-3 Israeli security staff harassing him, aggressively demanding that he prove that he participated in the concert and hand searching all his equipment. Security started my interrogation after his and I still finished before him. At the gate later I ran into Keys' other band members, all African American, who told me they had all experienced problems with Israeli security." Israeli staff at border crossings practice racial profiling, targeting Muslims and people of color for extra scrutiny, and Ethiopian citizens of Israel and African refugees experience significant racial discrimination in Israel.

In response to Israel's large-scale abuses of Palestinian rights, Palestinian civil society launched a call for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel in 2005, modeled on the call by black South Africans for a boycott of apartheid South Africa that helped bring an end to the racist system. Numerous musicians, including Elvis Costello, Santana, Gil-Scott Heron and The Pixies have cancelled concerts or refrained from playing in Israel.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

BRAVO! PSY refrains from playing in apartheid Israel!

The global BDS movement applauds PSY's choice not to perform in Israel at this time.  

PSY has publicly denied claims that he'll be performing in Israel at a gig planned for July 25 at the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv and two days later at a resort in Eilat.  

Israeli media reported yesterday that ticket sales continue despite PSY's tweet that "there are false rumors of my appearance in Israel in July.  I will not be there but look forward to seeing all my fans in Israel soon. shalom." (followed by) "#whatisshalom my manager told me about it. should I believe him?"  













See also "Why Should Psy Boycott Israel?"