Sister, Apartheid is the Opposite of Bliss

An OPEN LETTER to Sister Bliss follows. Ayalah Bentovim plans to play apartheid Israel for 2 concerts on 8 and 9 March. The concert was announced just recently, giving very little time for people of conscience to ask Sister Bliss to reconsider. Many of her followers, however, support the boycott of Israel and will surely hope that she refrains from playing, even at this late date. It is not uncommon for an artist to cancel just one day prior to a scheduled gig. Sister Bliss, this is a letter of support for you and solidarity with you if you do so choose to refrain. We know the pressure for you to play is immense. It takes a huge act of courage to do the right thing and cancel. Please do show us that you are a woman of principle and cancel.

Dear Sister Bliss (Ayalah Bentovim),

It has come to our attention that you plan to play in Tel Aviv on 8 and 9 March. We are asking you to refrain. Your Israeli fans may be progressive and liberal, but no artist performs in Israel without clear political implications. While many of your fans in Israel may be against their own government’s policies, it’s important to note that your gig would send a message that it is okay to conduct business as usual with Israel. Only a small minority of Israeli citizens practice co-resistance with the Palestinian people, and they support artists who choose to cancel their concerts in Israel [1], as a means of working towards a truly just peace, not co-existence in the current situation.

The non-violent approach is an effective way to end Israel’s crimes. The United Nations, despite numerous resolutions against Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, has not ensured that Israel is forced to comply with international law.

Maxi Jazz of Faithless spoke these powerful words on joining the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel, please heed them.

“All Races All Colours All Creeds Got The Same Needs.
Hi, this is Maxi Jazz and these are just some of the lyrics I perform every night with my friends known as Faithless. And this short note is for all fans and family of the band in Israel. It’s fair to say that for 14 years we’ve been promoting goodwill, trust and harmony all around the world in our own small (but very loud!) way. Ok. We’ve been asked to do some shows this summer in your country and, with the heaviest of hearts, I have regretfully declined the invitation. While human beings are being wilfully 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 this 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.
We Come 1
maxi”

Roger Waters, founder of Pink Floyd, emphasised:

“Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. This is [however] a plea to my colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines, to join this cultural boycott. Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa’s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said:

“International Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Apartheid regime, combined with the mass struggle inside South Africa, led to our victory … Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong … to perform in Israel.”

Playing in Israel today, in violation of the boycott call, sends two messages:

  1. The artist has chosen to ignore the Palestinian people’s call for solidarity through a cultural boycott. [2]
  2. The musician is aware of and accepts that the Israeli Ministry of Culture will endeavor to use an artist’s name to legitimize and promote the current oppressive, racist, apartheid government through social media like Twitter[3], through press releases, and via the CCFP. [4]

Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, former deputy director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, stated “We are seeing culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture.” [5]

Over 11 million people are oppressed by Israel’s violations of human rights against non-Jews. People were and still are forced from their homes, and made into refugees. Gaza was made into a crowded, Israeli-controlled open-air jail. The West Bank is surrounded by an apartheid wall and sprinkled with over 500 roadblocks and checkpoints. [6]

While Israel presents itself as a democracy, in fact it is a democracy only for Jews. Indigenous Palestinians, most particularly in the Occupied Territories, are treated as less than human. Palestinians, lesser citizens within Israel itself, are discriminated against by 43 laws privileging Jews at their expense.[7]

Please don’t turn a blind eye to Shabrawi and Ezz ad-Deen, the two Palestinian children whose story was recently featured in The Guardian [8]. These two boys lived through solitary confinement, interrogation, shackling of hands and feet, verbal abuse (“You’re a dog, a son of a whore” – is common), sleep deprivation, and threats against their families.

Please refrain from conducting business as usual, while much of the world has stood looking in horror at Israel’s policy of administrative detention.[9] Cancel for Hana Al-Shalabi, a young Palestinian woman who has been subjected to solitary confinement, abuse and sexual harassment during her interrogation and then ordered to be detained without charge or trial for six months. She has been in administrative detention for 2 years without charge.[10] She was released for a four month period then returned to administrative detention on 17 February. Now this bright young woman, in an extraordinary act of strength, is on a hunger strike.

Until Israel complies with international law, until the millions of displaced refugees see justice, please refrain from playing Israel.

Peace,

DPAI

We are a group, of over 830 members, representing many nations 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.

Notes:
[1]THANK YOU CHAN MARSHALL (CAT POWER) (from Israeli citizens) http://boycottisrael.info/content/thank-you-chan-marshall-cat-power
[2]] PACBI Guidelines for the International Cultural Boycott of Israel www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047
[3] Punk Rocker’s “Simple Plan” part of Israel’s Apartheid Plan refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/punk-rockers-simple-plan-part-of-israels-apar
[4] Creative Community for Peace and Apartheid
www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?p=1835
[5]About face
http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/about-face-1.170267
blog.endtheoccupation.org/2010/01/howard-zinn-on-palestine-advance-of.html
[6] MOVEMENT AND ACCESS IN THE WEST BANK by UNITED NATIONS Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory
unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/8F5CBCD2F464B6B18525791800541DA6
[7] Haneen Zoabi at the Russell Tribunal Cape Town: ‘We need equality’ www.kadaitcha.com/2012/01/09/haneen-zoabis-presentation-at-the-russell-tribunal-cape-town/
[8]The Palestinian Children – Alone and bewildered – in Israel’s Al Jalame jail www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/22/palestinian-children-detained-jail-israel
[9] Khader Adnan recovering but not out of danger as Palestinian woman takes up hunger strike against her detention
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/khader-adnan-recovering-not-out-danger-palestinian-woman-takes-hunger-strike
[10] http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=161

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