Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ester Rada of Israel: Why Rada is a Gig to Boycott

A well-orchestrated hasbara tour:
Ester Rada of Israel tours the US.
Israeli apartheid is not jazzy.
by DPAI (Don't Play Apartheid Israel)
Israeli musician Ester Rada is on a tour of the US to include four gigs in both California and New York as well as many other states.  
The Bio on Ms. Rada's website does not mention the fact that she previously served in the IDF as a singer [1], and that she continues to sing at Israeli state-sponsored events. Her current tour is being sponsored by the Israeli Consulate. [2] On 1 Feb, the official twitter for the state of Israel tweeted "Ester Rada is one of the most promising and #unique artists in #Israel. hear her out" Again on 17 May, Israel's twitter promoted Rada and tweeted, "Meet Ester Rada, Israel's rising #music star." The Israeli consulate in Atlanta also promoted Ms. Rada on twitter.
The Israeli government has a long-standing history of using artists like Ms. Rada as part of a clearly whitewashing campaign, designed to distract the global community from Israel's well-documented human rights abuse and war crimes. 
After the Gaza massacre in 2008-2009, Israel decided to allot an extra $2 million towards "cultural and information diplomacy." Israel's former Deputy Director General for Cultural Affairs, Arye Mekel, was quoted as saying, "We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits... This way you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war." [3]  

The current use by Israel of Ms. Rada can also be interpreted as an effort to cover up Israel's persecution of African asylum seekers and violent anti-African racism that was outlined in an article by +972 Mag titled:
"A year in review: Anti-African racism and asylum seekers in Israel" [4]
The BDS campaign does not oppose any artist based on their nationality, race or religion. Artists such as Ms. Rada are boycotted not because they are Israelis, but because they are willingly complicit in Israeli criminal activities by being part of the government's whitewashing campaign.
The BDS campaign is a widely supported, historically proven method of resistance. Among the many high profile artists that have either supported the campaign explicitly, or have cancelled performances per the BDS call, are Roger Waters and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd [5], Grammy-winning jazz artist Cassandra Wilson, Stanley Jordan, Nigel Kennedy, award winning filmmaker Mira Nair, Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, acclaimed guitarist John Williams, and Pete Seeger. Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned University of Cambridge physicist and cosmologist, has also joined the academic boycott of Israel.

NOTES
[1]Self Written Solo EP " Life Happens "-Ester Rada  http://addishappening.com/index.php/addis-view/jazz-up-addis/item/29-ester-rada
[2] There are many examples showing Rada's sponsorship by the Israeli Consulate, here are just a few:  
A. Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta Annoucement http://embassies.gov.il/atlanta/NewsAndEvents/calendar-of-events/Pages/Ester-Rada-at-the-Atlanta-Jazz-Fest.aspx
B. For more, contact Dena Weiss, Director of Public Affairs, Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast  http://atlantajewishtimes.com/israeli-musician-ester-rada-take-main-stage-atlanta-jazz-festival/
C. Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/ester-rada-5-23.html
The Consulate General of Israel https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ester-rada-unplugged-tickets-5647002336

[3]  After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation, NY Times, 3/18/09
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/world/middleeast/19israel.html?_r=0

[4] http://972mag.com/a-year-in-review-anti-african-racism-and-asylum-seekers-in-israel/72381/
[5]http://www.salon.com/2014/05/01/pink_floyds_roger_waters_and_nick_mason_why_rolling_stones_shouldnt_play_in_israel/

Friday, May 9, 2014

An OPEN LETTER to Jay Leno: Support the Boycott of Israel for Palestinian Human Rights

Jay Leno asked to Boycott Israel and Mavis (wife) 
Dear Jay Leno,


We, at DPAI (Don’t Play Apartheid Israel), along with the undersigned organizations, both in the USA and in Europe, have heard you are to visit Israel for the first time, and that you will be combining a tourist trip with a gig on May 22 as an emcee for the Genesis Award ceremony in Jerusalem.


We urge you to please reconsider your plans to accept this invitation.  


When you take your PR tour of Israel, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, the ugly side of Israel will be well hidden from your eyes.  Part of your tour will not include a stop to talk to the wives and children of the many political prisoners that Israel holds in illegal administrative detention without charges.  These men are imprisoned for years and many of them, as well as some women,  have undertaken hunger strikes in a bid for justice  (A)


Your agenda won’t include a visit to the university students who have had to endure checkpoints within the West Bank by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces), often during exams, and up to 2 km long, where up to 8000 Palestinians have to walk in the ditch every day on their way to school or work. (B)  


While being hosted by the state you will not be told about the over 30,000 Sudanese and Eritrean African asylum seekers who are in holding camps in the Negev.  Netanyahu, with whom you will shake hands at the award ceremony, has determined that these people be kept in prison-like holding facilities in the Negev. (C)


Jay Leno, you have been described as a rare celebrity who is in touch with the working person,  would you let photographers snap shots of you chumming around with Netanyahu on stage?  That image would be used in the press to normalize the apartheid state of Israel.  


Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said:  
“I was bishop of Johannesburg when police would stop our car and want to body-search my wife and children … and I go and I visit the Holy Land and I see things that are a mirror image of the sort of things I experienced under the apartheid.” (D)


Jay Leno, we urge you to consider that your gig as an emcee for the Genesis Award ceremony could be construed as a political act in support of the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.  Would you wine and dine with the elite of the Israeli state while, just minutes away in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinians are being deprived by Israel of their right to education, work, and housing?  Could you close your eyes to their call for a boycott of Israel when their very homes are being bulldozed down in East Jerusalem?  (E)


Would you take your wife Mavis to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque while they are all under military occupation by Israel?  Would Mavis take the time to enquire about Israel’s inhumane treatment of woman?  Please take the time to hear the story of Nibal.  Nibal lives in Gaza, only 80 miles away from her family in Jenin, but Israel refuses to allow her to visit her family.  She missed family weddings and, tragically, the chance to see her youngest sister before she was to die of a serious illness last November.  A recent special report by B’Tselem illustrates how Israel’s illegal and inhumane policy affects Palestinian women:  


“who are denied such basic daily experiences such as getting together with one’s mother, inviting a sister for tea, or having a tĂȘte-a- tĂȘte with one’s father. This, even when there is no claim the individual women pose a security risk.  The policy results in a forced separation between families in cases when a West Bank woman marries a Gaza resident or a woman from Gaza marries a West Bank man. Women are torn between their life with their husband and children and their longing to see the family into which they were born, whom they are rarely allowed to meet.”  (F)


Palestinian women in labor are often delayed at Israeli checkpoints as they try to get to hospitals to give birth. Between 2000 and 2005, 67 Palestinian mothers were forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints, thirty-six babies died. (G)


In a similar study, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, it was found that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of home births, with women preferring to avoid road trips while in labor for fear of not being able to reach the hospital in time.  The study found that 69 babies were born at checkpoints during those seven years (from 2000-2007). Thirty-five babies and five of the mothers died, an outcome (which she) considered to amount to a crime against humanity.(H)  


Jay Leno, please take the time to learn about the Palestinian-led movement for a boycott of Israel.  Have the courage to think of a humorous joke (we know how capable you are of that) when you decline your invitation to Israel.


Respectfully,






NOTES
(A) Palestinian prisoner’s health worsens after 210 days of refusing food
(B)  Checkpoints and Dignity:  Daily Life in Occupied Territories by Mira Dabit http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/checkpoints-and-dignity-daily-life-occupied-territories
(C) Netanyahoo Orders Swift Deportation http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-orders-swift-deportation-of-25-000-illegal-african-migrants-1.434190
(D) Asked about Kerry, Tutu says Israel “mirror image” of apartheid
(E)  Palestinians Protest Home Demolitions In Occupied Jerusalem
(F)  Special B’Tselem project: Women illustrators depict stories of Palestinian women in split Gaza-West Bank families   http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20140306_so_near_and_yet_so_far_comics and Nibal’s story on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6yXR5RA8mg

Letter also published at    http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2427