An Apology from the Palestinians to Mrs. Haris Alexiou …

An appeal from the Greek Association for Solidarity with the Palestinian People – INTIFADA) to Greek singer Haris Alexiou, planning to perform in Caesarea, Israeli Apartheid, on 20 and 22 of October 2011.

Mrs. Haris Alexiou, we Palestinians do apologize, but they are not letting us come to your concert

Dear Mrs. Haris Alexiou

(or, if that’s OK with you) our Haroula

We, all Palestinians, rejoiced at the news that, despite the call from a certain self-proclaimed Palestinian civil society and some Israeli activists for boycotting the Israeli apartheid till it stops committing crimes and complies with the international law, you will not follow the example of other artists (such as Roger Waters, Natacha Atlas, Elvis Costello and others) and you will come to sing in historical Palestine – excuse us, Israel.

We know that you, as well as other Greek artists (Yiannis Kotsiras, Demis Roussos, George Dalaras, Glykeria, and others), don’t mix politics with art and you are coming to sing for peace and for all the peoples of that region, which have common cultural roots, anyway.

Unfortunately our joy for your coming was somewhat mitigated by the fact that we will not be able to attend your concert, as we would like so much to.

More than 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, mostly children, in our majority refugees since the “Nakba” (that means the catastrophe, the ethnic cleansing of 1948), we are under blockade inside the Strip and we are not only not allowed to get out and attend your concert but not even, apart from a few exceptions, go to hospitals or study.

Another 2.5 million approx. of us, including once again many 1948 refugees, we are being blocked (even among us) in the West Bank and we are no more allowed to visit the area where you are going to have the concert, not only to watch it, but not even to go for a day’s work, as we were doing in the past. But even if they would allow us, we would have to pass so many checkpoints as well as the Wall, that it would be uncertain if could make it on time for your concert.

More than 5 million others we are dispersed around the whole world, refugees since 1948 (“this cologne lasts for years” [1]…) and we are not allowed to visit our villages destroyed then (among them Qisarya where you usually perform), our houses, our relatives – but, most of all, we are not allowed to come to your concert. We were thinking of giving it a try, by organizing peaceful demonstrations to return to the area where you are going to sing, but the last time we tried something like this, in May and in June, some ones – obviously not among your fans – welcomed us with live ammunition and we had dozens of people killed.

We were thinking of catching at least a plane and coming just for your concert. But the last time some foreigners tried to do it, last June, they found themselves crammed in the detention centers of Ben Gurion airport. Even by boat would we come, but when some of us, having gained foreign nationality, tried, along with many foreign friends, in 2010, something similar, i.e. to come to Gaza by boats, some Israelis – for sure not among your fans – attacked us, killed 8 Turkish fellow travelers and one American of Turkish origin, injured dozens and, after beating us and tazered us, they crammed us by hundreds in prisons and finally they deported us. Fortunately in 2011, when we tried to do the same crazy thing, the Prime Minister of your country, Greece, Mr. Papandreou (obviously remembering the fraternal friendship of his late father with the late Yasser Arafat) protected us like a father and, with the help of fully armed coast guard policemen, prevented us from suffering the same or worst.

About 5,500 of us, including hundreds of children, are imprisoned in Israeli jails, even in jails-concentration camps in the desert. As you can understand, it is uncertain if we will be given, not of course the permission to leave the jail for 5 days, as it happens in your country, but even a permission to leave the jail for half a day, in order to be able to come to your concert. But, in any case, we will give it a try and we are determined to even have a hunger strike in order to assert a permission for a few hours and be able to watch your concert.

Thousands of us, we found ourselves disabled in our homes (or still in hospitals) after being injured not only by vicious beatings from settlers and soldiers – for sure not some of your fans – but also by not-so-“rubber” bullets, live ammunition, shells, bombs, missiles, white phosphorous etc. We were really dreaming of coming to your concert, but the doctors do not allow us to do so for the moment.

Finally, more than 6,500 of us, about 1/5 of them children, about ¼ of those children under the age of 12, we have been killed during the last 11 years by Israeli fire and as you can understand it’s a little bit difficult for us to attend. Despite that, be sure that we will listen to you “from the edge of sky”. [2]

So, we are sorry that we, all your Palestinian fans, will not be able to come to your concert in the heart of historical Palestine – excuse us, Israel – but we are sure that “your love will find us wherever we are”. [3]

“By the prayers” [4] of:

The “free besieged” [5] people of the Gaza Strip under blockade

The “built in wall” people of the occupied West Bank

The displaced people of occupied East Jerusalem

The exiled – refugees of the Palestinian diaspora

The Palestinian prisoners

The Palestinian injured and disabled people

The Palestinian martyrs

All your Palestinian fans

Freely adapted by the:

Greek Association for Solidarity with the Palestinian People – INTIFADA

P.S. We know how much you, Mrs. Alexiou, are also hit by the economic crisis that your country, and many more, suffer by. And how much you need the profits from this concert. The fact that we will not be able to attend your concert, does not mean that we don’t want to support you in this difficult moment of yours. Please send us the details of your bank account and we will send you the price of the ticket. We don’t want anything in exchange. We just want you to contribute so that, in a future concert in historical Palestine – excuse us, Israel – we will be able, at least some of us, to attend. We thank you in advance.

[1] “This cologne lasts for years”: an old song by Haris Alexiou

[2] Referring to the song “To the edge of your sky”, by Haris Alexiou.

[3] Referring to the song “Love will find you wherever you are”, by Haris Alexiou.

[4] Another song by Haris Alexiou

[5] “The Free Besieged”: one of the most important works of the Greek national poet Dionysios Solomos, about the siege of Messolonghi by the forces of the Ottoman Empire, during the Greek revolution for independence.