Natalie Imbruglia, Please Don’t Make a Big Mistake

Natalie Imbruglia, Playing Apartheid is a Big MistakeDear Natalie,

We are writing to you to ask you to please reconsider your performance in Israel, scheduled for the 1st March, 2017. We understand this will be your first appearance in Israel and would like to inform you that playing there will be in breach of the Palestinian call for artists to respect the cultural boycott of Israel until it adheres to international law and Palestinians have their civil and political rights which they are currently denied by the apartheid Israeli government. [1]

Like Aboriginal people in Australia before 1966, indigenous Palestinians who live in Israel are prevented from enjoying full citizenship in that state. Full citizenship is available only on theocratic grounds, to people who are defined as Jewish by the State. Furthermore, Palestinians in Israel are subject to more than 50 laws discriminating against them – de facto apartheid.  Palestinians who reside in the Occupied Territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza which Israel seized and occupied in 1967 cannot vote at all in Israeli elections. These Palestinian people subsist in segregated bantustans isolated from each other by apartheid walls and fences with their movement controlled by over 500 checkpoints, preventing them from attending universities and hospitals, and seeing friends and relatives – many families have been separated for years due to this system of apartheid. Indeed the International Court of Justice declared Israel’s apartheid wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory illegal in 2004 – further international law that it ignores.

Palestinians persecuted by military occupation naturally wish to live freely with rights in their own ancestral lands. However, illegal Israeli settlements continually expand and encroach upon those lands, despite several United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Most recently, on 23 December 2016, the UNSC passed another resolution unanimously against expansion of the illegal settlements, and again affirmed their illegality under international law, yet Israel refuses to recognise these resolutions.  Israel has now declared de facto war on the resolution’s sponsors, including New Zealand [2] and also intends to withhold UN dues [3]. Since the resolution Israel has accelerated its demolition of Palestinian homes to four times its 2016 weekly average, making hundreds of people homeless.

Nearly 800,000 Jewish people now reside illegally on Palestinian lands, enjoying full political rights while Palestinians languish, brutalised by military occupation and without rights. Palestinian refugees driven out in the 1948 Nakba from the areas which Israel claimed comprise the second largest refugee population in the world and again, despite the requirements of international law, Israel refuses to permit these Indigenous people to return to their homes. In many countries Palestinians are stateless, living in squalid refugee camps for decades, never giving up hope that their right of return will be realised and they can return to their Indigenous home and heritage which has been usurped and colonised.

Zionist colonisation of Palestine follows a similar trajectory to British colonisation of Australia, where Indigenous Australians were forced into isolating missions and reserves, slaughtered and dispossessed of their land and culture, while Palestinians too are subjected to extreme violence and forced into refugee camps and bantustans  We understand you have experienced the end results of these genocidal colonial crimes during your participation in the First Contact SBS programme and are sympathetic to the plight of Aboriginal people in Australia consequent to white colonisation. We ask you to consider also the distressing situation for Palestinian people and the importance of support for their struggle for liberation and justice. Because the international political community has refused to act to support their rights, Palestinians called in 2005 for cultural boycott and asked people of conscience like yourself for solidarity with their movement by refraining from performing in Israel.

By respecting their call, you will also be supporting the women of Gaza who suffer from breast cancer, another area where you have shown empathy. Israel prevents breast cancer sufferers, and indeed most cancer sufferers from obtaining appropriate treatment, due to its collective punishment of two million civilians which it has incarcerated in the largest prison in the world – Gaza – since 2006.

Dozens of female cancer patients in the Gaza Strip have launched a protest against Israel’s refusal to allow them to cross into Israel to seek medical treatments in hospitals in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The women say the ban or delay of their treatments is a “premeditated death sentence.” [4]

Due to Israel’s military attacks on Gaza and its illegal, immoral siege which prevents the import of fuel supply and parts, sickness is common there since the water supply is contaminated by dysfunctional sewerage treatment plants and electricity supply is currently down to a mere four hours per day [5]. Physicians for Human Rights comments on Israel’s deprivation of medical equipment:

There are no syringes, no bandages and no tubes. When one of our surgeons asks for a specific scalpel or bandage during surgery he’s told that there aren’t any available. When we train a local doctor and teach him techniques and procedures he has nothing to work with.” [Ibid.]

The UN has estimated that without major reconstruction, Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. [Ibid.] Should you play your concert in Israel, be aware that this crime against humanity is being perpetrated just miles from you.

Certainly, Israel will continue to carry out its injustices against the Palestinian people if we are silent and do not act. We implore you to recognise your performance in Israel cannot create bridges over apartheid, oppression and suffering, merely obscure it so Israel can continue to pretend that its crimes are “normal” and blame Palestinians for their own plight. This is clearly not the case any more than the myth proliferated by white supremacists that Aboriginal people in Australia are responsible for their own immiseration.

The reality is that for Israel any show that isn’t cancelled because of boycott appeals is considered a political victory over the Palestinian struggle and international solidarity with it. Performing in Tel Aviv means playing for a segregated audience, on ethnically cleansed land. We really hope you can’t see yourself doing this and you join Lauryn Hill, Cassandra Wilson, Sinead O’Connor, Cat Power, Massive Attack and thousands of other artists who have refused to play in Israel – in Ireland over 540 artists have pledged to boycott the state, as have over 1,190 in the UK, and many more all over the world.

Please respect the Palestinian call to boycott Israel – you can make a real difference here and help tip the moral scales toward justice.


We are a group, of over 2000 members from 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.

Palestine Support Network Australia (PSNA)
Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)
Australian Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Campaign for Palestine (BDS)
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP)
Sydney Staff for BDS
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

Samah Sabawi, Palestinian Australian playwright and Al Shabaka policy adviser
Kollaps, Melbourne band
Candy Royalle, Writer, Performer, Activist, Educator
Amy McQuire, Indigenous Writer
Penelope Swales, Musician
Sara Dowse, Writer
Trish Nacey, Videographer and Musician
Walbira Murray, Indigenous Research Officer
Ken Canning, Indigenous Playwright
Jeff Sparrow, Writer, Editor and Broadcaster
Marcelo Svirsky, Writer



Video: British Jews Against Genocide Protest

Further to the previous written report of the protest held outside the offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the video above captures the testimonies of people from British Jews Against Genocide who participated.

Here’s selections from some of the powerful speeches at the event:

Selma James: I have to remind people of the stories that Jews told when they came to England to ask for English help because they were being taken to the death camps. And the Foreign Office said that the Jews were hysterical, that it wasn’t really true, that it wasn’t really happening, and when they finally convinced Churchill to bomb the tracks to Auschwitz, the Foreign Office refused to do it and I am reminded of that because today what’s happening to Palestinians is being dismissed by the media, is being demeaned by the media. It’s the same history repeating itself because the people who are being slaughtered are not being listened to, are not being taken seriously.

Yael Kahn: Intentionally Israel sees the women and the mothers and children as their main targets. Israel’s fight is not against Hamas, Israel is fighting against the people of Gaza.

Barnaby Raine: We’re here to present the other tradition in Jewish history, the tradition of solidarity of standing with the oppressed. Not just standing with Jews but standing with whoever they are when they are oppressed. So that’s why we stand with the Palestinian people and we as Jews and human beings support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the state of Israel.


Related Links

Over 100 Jewish Survivors and Descendents of Survivors of Nazi Genocide Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians

Arutz Sheva’s Gutter Yellow “Journalism” Smears Stanley Jordan

Arutz Sheva INN storyThe online news service, Israel National News, has misrepresented the reporting on Jordan’s cancellation from this blog. A link to the story from the INN dizzying spin would have enabled readers to determine the truth of the matter. Is this too much to ask of Israel’s mainstream media?

On the 6th January, following effective advocacy from supporters of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Stanley Jordan, who was to headline the Red Sea Jazz Festival at Eilat this month announced that he was cancelling his gig, apologising for any inconvenience caused.

With an embarrassing display of gutter journalism, INN implies that this blog reported Stanley Jordan as having had his “hayday [sic] in the 80s” bowing “to a cultural boycott by Arab sympathizers after initially chosing [sic] to honor his commitment and “hold a special event later on in the year to promote justice for Palestinians.””. Is Israel so far up against its apartheid wall that it now selects hasbeens to headline its Festivals?

Jordan is a major jazz fusion performing and recording star, who has played with the likes of Miles Davis, Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie, and who has developed a unique two-handed tapping guitar technique. He is also an academic specialising in music therapy. Sometimes the best therapy for dysfunction is to withhold music altogether.

Israel’s opportunistic government unashamedly uses all culture as propaganda – apparently it is not beneath its media propaganderists to misuse cancellations by principled artists after calls to boycott to misquote the messenger and smear the artist as well. Yet perhaps the headline of the INN story betrays how close the Israeli-government sponsored festival was to closing after Jordan’s cancellation.

Artists who still have not committed to cancelling their entertainment of apartheid at the Red Sea Jazz Festival and respecting the boycott are Erik Truffaz, Benjamin Taubkin, Marcelo Pretto, Jacky Terrasson, Yuri Honing, E J Strickland, Wolfert Brederode and the Motion Trio. To help persuade these artists to stand on the right side of history with the oppressed Palestinian people demanding justice, freedom and human rights, information for action is available on the Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival facebook page.

Thus far, artists who have cancelled their performances at this year’s Red Sea Festival include the Portico Quartet, Andreas Öberg and Stanley Jordan. Before the 2012 Israeli Government-sponsored Eilat festival, Tuba Skinny decided to refuse to play while in Rome en-route to Israel after receiving information about the cultural boycott, only a few days prior to their scheduled gig. Latin jazz great Eddie Palmieri of Puerto Rico and jazz musician Jason Moran of Houston followed Tuba Skinny, cancelling their appearances at the Festival. None of these artists have rescheduled performances in Israel to date.

Note to INN – this is the Kadaitcha blog, which publishes many different writers and sources, including @Jinjirrie. The story on Stanley Jordan’s cancellation from the Red Sea Jazz Festival was sourced from Don’t Play Apartheid Israel and first published on the Refrain Playing Israel blog.

Related Links

Stanley Jordan’s withdrawal, and the worldliness of jazz
On Educating Stanley : Analysis of the First 2013 BDS Victory
First Win for Cultural Boycott in 2013 : Stanley Jordan Cancels
Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS
Stanley Jordan, Please Respect the Boycott of Israel
To the Palestinian People – Against the Normalisation of Apartheid by Joy Harjo
Hasbara and the Case for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel
Everything BDS: Stanley Jordan: Don’t Cross the Picket Line
BDS Switzerland asks Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER asking Érik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER to Yuri Honing: Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel
Portico Quartet Respects the Boycott of Israel
2012 – A Great Year for Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

Stanley Jordan – “Love and Light” Isn’t Enough to End Apartheid

Stanley Jordan: You Don’t Get to Peace without Real Solidarity

by Rima Merriman

After putting BDS activists through their paces for eight straight days of discussion on his Facebook page, noted Jazz musician Stanley Jordan announced on January 1st, that he had decided not to support the call of the Palestinian civil society to boycott the upcoming Red Sea Jazz Festival this month in Eilat, Israel.

In his announcement, Jordan referred to a “spirited online discussion and much deep soul-searching” but did not give a reason for his decision. Instead, he avowed his dedication to “world peace” and pledged to demonstrate to the many activists who had contributed to his Facebook thread with over 800 posts of information and considered arguments – including two messages from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott – that he had “heard” them and was ready to make others hear their impassioned plea. Jordan had concluded that that the best way “I could serve the cause would be to do my performance as scheduled, but separately organize an event in a major city in the United States to raise funds and awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people. The time frame will be in September or October 2013.”

Though not unexpected, that “conclusion” was problematic for many BDS advocates. The discussion on the thread ranged over a wide variety of topics triggered by Jordan’s questions. However, there was one central issue that kept rearing its head: What does it really mean to be in solidarity with an oppressed people?

Besides Jordan, some artists, like Native American poet and musician Joy Harjo, who are approached by PACBI and asked to heed the Palestinian people’s call to honor the academic and cultural boycott – that is, to stand in solidarity – too often arrogantly assume that they can demonstrate their support by performing in Israel and then gesturing to Palestinians through other means of their own choosing, for example by arranging for a parallel performance in the occupied territory. That’s an offer that PACBI, which is represented by over 170 civil society organizations and is growing in international support daily, categorically refuses. The list of artists who have respected the call includes Santana, Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson, Massive Attack, Jello Biafra, Faithless, Leftfield, Gorillaz, Pixies, Gil Scott Heron, and many more that have refused to play for apartheid and is growing.

It is well known that Israel utilizes international artists as part of a clear strategy of normalization to try and legitimize settler colonialism, occupation, and apartheid. “Branding Israel” is a propaganda campaign financed by the well-heeled Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to showcase a side of Israel more palatable to the world. PACBI asks artists not to be complicit in these state efforts by not performing in Israeli institutions. Those who do not heed the call often end up regretting their decision, as has been expressed by Macy Gray, Pete Seeger, Richard Montoya and others.

Jordan is now trying to justify his decision by expressing inchoate beliefs about the power of his art to achieve “world peace” by “changing consciousness” while propounding the notion that the boycott undermines the freedom of the artist and limits the transformative power he possesses over his audience. By doing so, he has elevated the status as an artist as though he is ‘above’ human rights. True change of consciousness comes when the privileged use their power to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, not in telling them how best to resist – as he also tried in his comments on Facebook.

At several stages in the discussion, Jordan outlined his dilemma: “This situation and the information I’ve received has really moved me, and I regret that we have this sticking point about the boycott being the only acceptable form of help.” Activists pointed out that the boycott is one of the most effective ways to peacefully protest Israel’s deadly subjugation of Palestinians and one that is called for by those being oppressed. But more importantly, they explained what an act of solidarity actually demands. Adrian Boutureira Sansberro spelled this out most powerfully in his comments to Jordan:

“Firstly, we are in solidarity with the oppressed, not the oppressor. Secondly, being in solidarity entails being able to take direction from those one claims to be in solidarity with. Learning how to take direction, as to what is it that those we are in solidarity with wish us to do, is a huge aspect of shifting the relationships of power between the oppressed and the oppressor. It is also a way to really come face to face with our own true commitment and power issues. To do as we wish, is not being in solidarity. It is practicing supremacist charity. I say supremacist, because even when people claim to be in solidarity, they refuse to relinquish their own power and privilege as individuals. They refuse to surrender their own interests. They refuse to recognize that the collective must always be greater than the individual, or we are not in solidarity at all. We are then independent actors who cannot accept taking direction for whatever reason.”

In the end, Jordan was unable to relate to the above careful and important distinctions. He remained stuck on the notion of “help” in the sense of charity – thus his proposed charity concert in the US. “I would like to work in alliance with those who support the Palestinian people and, in the true spirit of alliance, have it be understood that there may be differences of opinion on how best to accomplish that.” Many people told Jordan that he could choose to do his own thing to show a sense of empathy or “an alliance” with the cause (as opposed to what is being requested of him specifically), but they also explained that such a choice would not be as effective and would certainly not be in solidarity in the true sense of the word, which is why Jordan’s decision not to support the boycott provoked Sylvia Posadas, one of his interlocutors to write simply: “So sorry you cannot fully support Palestinian people at this time. You have not been requested to give charity, but support for their ethical choice of tactic. In time, perhaps you will understand what ‘solidarity’ really means.”


Related Links

Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS
Stanley Jordan, Please Respect the Boycott of Israel
To the Palestinian People – Against the Normalisation of Apartheid by Joy Harjo
Hasbara and the Case for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel
Everything BDS: Stanley Jordan: Don’t Cross the Picket Line
BDS Switzerland asks Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER asking Érik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER to Yuri Honing: Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel
Portico Quartet Respects the Boycott of Israel