Open letter from Gaza to Moddi: Do Not Entertain Our Oppressor!
[Besieged Gaza, Palestine] We are a group of academics, students and youth from Gaza, and our only fault is being born Palestinian. You might think we are in an era from where you should not be murdered, tortured, forced to leave your houses and villages, denied water and electricity, restricted movement, imprisoned and regularly harassed and humiliated – all because of who you are when you are born, because of what is written on your identity card. But this encapsulates the reality of our entire lives for decades under the Israeli Apartheid that you are intending to entertain on 1st February and we implore you to take a stand by refusing to perform there.
The Israeli occupation of our land is the longest running in modern history. In Gaza we are in the seventh year of the Israeli imposed, medieval siege with our families and loved ones in what major Human Rights Organizations call the largest open air prison in modern history. Two thirds of us are UN registered refugees still dreaming of a return to our homes – the hundreds of Palestinian villages, towns and cities destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, tanks and missiles. The state you are planning to entertain is committed to a process of ethnic cleansing against us the indigenous people, a process that began with the Nakba in 1948. And now it is engaged in, what the Israeli academic Ilan Pappe calls, “slow motion genocide” against the 1.7 million population of Gaza, the majority of whom are children.
As this letter is penned from a refugee camp near Gaza City, it is Christmas Eve. And now the news comes through from East of Al-Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza, that 3 year old Hala Abu Sabikha has been killed by shrapnel from an Israeli shelling. Her mother and her brothers, 3 year old Bilal and 6 year old Mohammad were injured while standing outside their house near a chicken farm. How will their family ever recover, overcome with permanent grief and loss from Gaza’s depleted hospital wards while those celebrating Christmas day in Norway and the rest of Europe sit in silence?
Hundreds of Palestinian Christians in Gaza are denied by Israel the possibility of going to Bethlehem, a one hour drive, for Mass this Christmas, and many more are denied entry coming from countries from outside. The Israeli regime controls all points of entry to Palestine.
We love music. But, we are deprived of it. For years musical instruments were one of those items banned from entering by Israel’s blockade, along with toys, pasta, school books and chocolate. The sound of Israeli-US made F16s, F15s, F35s, surveillance planes, white phosphorous bombs, naval gunboats and Merkava tanks drown the music and song that we delight in performing and listening to. Even listening to music on computers is impossible – in the last few months the Israeli siege and attacks on our power supply means we are now limited to 6 hours of electricity a day! The sewage system has also collapsed and many of the camps are flooded. Yet this is not an environmental disaster, this is imposed by the regime to which you plan on bringing your music.
Do you know that most of the people in your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army? You are aware that we in Gaza could never cross the Israeli checkpoints to enjoy your music because we are Palestinian, born to mothers who do not have the “right” religion? We call upon your free soul that has been adding uplifting music into this disenchanted world of ours, to join those courageous people of conscience, artists like Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Massive Attack, Gil Scott-Heron, Faithless, Carlos Santana, Vanessa Paradis, Natacha Atlas and Devendra Banhart. They are heeding the call to boycott Israel until it complies with international law, and until justice and accountability are reached just as the global Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement helped make way for the collapse of apartheid in South Africa.
The late, great Nelson Mandela said “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his visits to Palestine described some of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as worse than apartheid. Would you have performed in Apartheid South Africa? How would that look now? Endorsing the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Tutu described as ‘unconscionable’ the prospect of the South African ‘Cape Town Opera’ performing in Israel earlier this year.
We ask you now, like so many people of your nation have stood with the oppressed in the past, to stand on the right side of history, to respond to our call from the Gaza ghetto to not turn your back on us. If you play in Israel, then we will be a short distance away from where you are playing. But your beautiful tunes will break our wrenching hearts and not sway our souls.
Don’t entertain Apartheid this February 1st
Palestinian Students for the Academic Boycott of Israel
University Teachers’ Association