Calling on Amnesty International to Act for Justice for Palestinians

The members of Boycott Within! who risk legal action by making their demands below support the Palestinian call to boycott, divest from and sanction apartheid from within Israel.

Amnesty International, One Struggle for Freedom Must Not Undermine Another

“To Amnesty International,

We are a group of citizens of Israel who support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Some of us are members of Amnesty International and we’re deeply troubled by your endorsement of the Swedish Metal band, Arch Enemy, which is scheduled to give a gig in Israel, despite its record of violating international law and human rights.

We applaud your tireless documentation of abuses of human rights world-wide and the actions you take to bring them to an end. As you very well know, freedom of expression has never been granted to Palestinians by the Israeli military regime. This is evident from the most recent example of the brutal repression of demonstrations against the apartheid wall and settlements in the West Bank, where Mustafa Tamimi was shot to death in the head with a high velocity gas projectile from zero range (http://youtu.be/69GCTj6_BZs).

So many Palestinian activists, many of whom are still in Israeli prisons, are held under “administrative” arrest for weeks and months, in violation of international law and their human rights. We would like to remind you in particular of two arrests that occurred in late 2009:

1. Abdallah Abu Rahma, whom the army tried to convict for “possession of arms”, when in fact an art exhibition was held in his home: A peace-sign constructed from used gas canisters that the army uses every week against the villagers of Bil’in

2. Mohammad Othman, who was arrested for the crime of talking. At the time, this is what Amnesty International had to say:

“Amnesty International said it is concerned that Abdallah Abu Rahma and Mohammed Othman have been detained solely on account of legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression in opposing the Israeli fence/wall.” http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/israel-must-stop-harassment-and-detention-palestianian-activists

Amnesty international has also been very supportive of our own group, as we are gradually being targeted by the policies of the Israeli government as well. There is no need to explain to you that we knowingly commit a civil offense in writing this letter. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa stated this very clearly:

“Despite proponents’ claims to the contrary, [the boycott] law is a blatant attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and campaigning by attacking the right to freedom of expression, which all governments must uphold.” http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/israel-anti-boycott-law-attack-freedom-expression-2011-07-12

We have absolutely no doubt that the Palestinian people were also on your mind, when you launched your “End Repression-Protect Freedom of Expression” campaign. We have absolutely no doubt of the importance of raising awareness about the political prisoners of Yodok in North Korea or the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. However, we must stress that one struggle for freedom must not undermine another.

Your sponsorship of Arch Enemy, who are scheduled to perform in Israel in January, will directly violate the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Hundreds of Palestinian unions, associations, NGOs, institutes, political parties, and groups are asking international artists not to perform in Israel (certainly not in commercial venues), until Israel ends its violations of human rights. Therefore, your sponsorship undermines the Palestinian civil society struggle for equality. liberation and self determination.

In view of this, we ask that you either

1. Withdraw your endorsement of Arch Enemy’s concert in Israel (as you have done before with Leonard Cohen – http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1080) and publicly distance Amnesty International from Arch Enemy’s decision to perform in Israel and express serious reservation about their undermining of Palestinian struggle.

or

2. Assist the band to convey their important message in a way that will not violate the Palestinian civil society BDS call, and will not serve to whitewash Israel’s violations of human rights through a false image of “cultural diversity” and “freedom of expression”.

We would be interested in your comments.

Sincerely,
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within”

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