Monday, January 19, 2015

Kelis: The Cultural Boycott of Israel is the Right Thing

Hey Kelis,
We recently heard you and your band plan to return to Israel on 6 and 7 February, this year.  Your planned gigs are scheduled just 6 months after Israel embarked on a violent attack on the people living in Gaza, who have suffered collectively under a brutal, illegal siege since 2006.  Israel’s misleadingly termed “Operation Protective Edge” eventually killed over 2,200 people, including over 510 children, maiming many thousands more.  The overwhelming consensus amongst people of conscience, is that it is time for BDS.
Kelis:  The Cultural Boycott
of Israel is the Right Thing
BDS - boycott, divest and sanctions - includes a cultural boycott of Israel, because acts such as yours are used by Israel in a vigorous but futile effort to “re-Brand Israel,” (especially Tel Aviv) as a gay-friendly, artistic beacon of “freedom” in the Middle East.
First, Tel Aviv is not gay-friendly, not in the sense of acceptance of all people, encompassing human rights and advocacy for all oppressed people.  


"This pinkwashing of Israel not only plays on a variety of racist and Islamophobic tropes but also impedes a thorough and nuanced analysis of queer and feminist liberation. It refuses to acknowledge that Palestinian queers are among those who are harassed, brutalised, displaced, bombed, and incarcerated. Whatever liberties might be extended to Jewish queers in Israel, being queer does not save Palestinians from the constant and brutal assault that forms the conditions of their lives. The Israeli army does not give a 'free pass' to queer Palestinians; in fact, its soldiers target LGBTQ Palestinians."


Second, Tel Aviv is not progressive.  Progressive, forward thinking comes from a mindset of human rights, equality, and the desire to stop such injustices as the new Jim Crow in the USA, Israel’s land theft wall, administrative detention, and siege and attack on Gaza.


Third, it is not commensurate with liberated artistic values  to play for a segregated audience, while Palestinians under Israeli control are not allowed to leave the bantustans within which they are imprisoned.  Not only may Palestinians not visit to listen to music -  neither are they free to avail themselves of a hospital for childbirth!


EBONY magazine in the USA recently published “Why Black people Must Stand With Palestine”, drawing parallels to injustices;  “similar to the Palestinians’ call for people of conscience to boycott and divest from companies that support their oppression, we might call on people abroad to pressure an end to "the New Jim Crow"---mass incarceration [1].”


Kelis, would you have the courage to cancel your gig in Israel, before tickets are sold, before Israel jails another child, bombs another home in Gaza, and stand with other artists of principle, like Talib Kweli, Stanley Jordan, Cassandra Wilson and many more to respect the cultural boycott today?


We are a group, of over 1,700 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.