Unplug Apartheid, Tinariwen, Respect the Boycott of Israel

Tinariwen of Mali is being asked in an OPEN LETTER to boycott the upcoming Plugfest in Israel:

Dear Tinariwen,

You have been invited to perform at a desert location in the Negev in Israel. Please watch this short documentary made in cooperation with two artists who fully support the cultural boycott of Israel: Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and Alice Walker (Pulitzer prize winning author of the Color Purple) In the film, Jahalin Bedouin community members explain how the Israeli government plans to forcibly displace them yet again — the community was originally displaced to the periphery of Jerusalem from their historic lands in the Naqab (Negev) desert during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Last May, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated:

The Committee is particularly appalled at the hermetic character of the separation of two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources. Such separation is concretized by the implementation of a complex combination of movement restrictions consisting of the Wall, roadblocks, the obligation to use separate roads and a permit regime that only impacts the Palestinian population (Article 3 of the Convention).[1]

Sadly, organizations such as the United Nations have done nothing to stop the fast pace of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people, prompting the legendary Roger Waters of Pink Floyd to say:

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.

 A Bedouin woman looks on as Israeli soldiers demolish  her village of Al Arakib again 13/9/2010
A Bedouin woman looks on as Israeli soldiers demolish
her village of Al Arakib again 13/9/2010

Members of Tinariwen: Ibrahim, Hassan, Abdallah A., Eyadou, Said, Abdallah L., Elaga and Wonou, no international musician thus far has been able to bridge apartheid walls with their artistic talent, no matter how beautiful your music is, it won’t help stop the injustice. We can hope that you do not support the Israeli government’s policies, however if you play for the Plugfest, it will send the message that you are either unaware of the boycott or that you chose to ignore the boycott call made by Palestinian civil society in their struggle against apartheid.

The Palestinian people are denied elementary freedoms: the freedom of movement, the freedom to access their stolen lands and the freedom to protest injustice without facing brutal repression.[2]

Those living in the Gaza strip (56% of whom are children) live under a debilitating siege, limiting their access to water, medical supplies, and construction material.[3] This unimaginable situation takes place only an hour away from your scheduled performance. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, 40 minutes away from the scheduled venue, children are being abducted from their homes, in violation of international law, and taken into violent police interrogations with no access to their parents or a lawyer.[4]

Tens of thousands of Bedouin people have been forced off their land in the Negev where you plan to play to a celebratory audience. Even the grains of sand in the desert speak out with the sorrow the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin people have faced. Can you really participate in a celebratory festival there? We have included references [5] on how these desert people are struggling and fighting for survival below, we hope you will check them out even during your busy touring schedule.

Representatives of Palestinian civil society, including over 170 different organizations such as women, academic and worker groups, have called for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s policies. International artists are asked not to perform in Israel until it abides by its obligations under international law and reverses these policies.[6]

Until the siege on over 1.7 million people in Gaza is lifted, until Palestinian lands are returned to their rightful owners, until the millions of refugees’ lives are restored with the opportunity for a future, the global boycott of Israel is going to continue. Please just decline to play Israel, don’t breach the boycott.

DPAI (Don’t Play Apartheid Israel)

We are a group, of over 1000 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.


[1] UN Committee 2012 Session Concludes Israeli System Tantamount to Apartheid
[2] http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/lets-stand-with-shireen-al-araj-and-the-courageous-people-of-al-walaja.html
[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/24/gaza-fishermen-gunboats-israel-navy
[4] http://www.btselem.org/video/2011/05/child-arrest-silwan
[5] Israel takes pride in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin villages Jillian Kestler-D’Amours Negev 9 October 2012
Israel plans to forcibly transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens Jillian Kestler-D’Amours 16 June 2011
Israel finds new “home” for Bedouins: a garbage dump Jillian Kestler-D’Amours 28 October 2011
Israeli government approves plans to transfer 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin Mansour Nsasra 1 October 2011
[6] http://www.bdsmovement.net/call