Sonia Montez – Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song

New York-based singer, songwriter and guitarist, Sonia Montez, expressed her support last year for boycott, divestment and sanctions of apartheid Israel.

Her new song “Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song” is written in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all folks living under occupation, including in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sonia says:

“As a musician/activist, the worlds in which I live are often separated from each other. We are trained in entertainment to not mix in politics because it may alienate a potential audience.

I abhor this idea and always have. From pop culture icons like Roger Waters to John and Yoko, to the great jazz artists of the 40’s and 50’s, politics has been crucial to the evolution of art and culture. It is in this spirit that I release this free demo, rough, faltered, honest, and filled with all of the emotional rage I and many others have felt over the brutalization of our human brothers and sisters.

Download it, share it, cover it, use it, remix it, tweet it, boast it from every speaker in every city. Make these words of solidarity count, we will not close our eyes, we will not be silent, we will witness and the world will know. Let the message ring loud, FROM #FERGUSON TO #PALESTINE: #OCCUPATION IS A CRIME!”


Sonia MontezClimbing Fences : The Occupation Song

Dead night
Fire in the sky
Stars are running shy
Ground bleeds in streams for you

Early little love child
Bore the burden of the hate squad
Someone watched as innocence left your eye
Climbing fences that tear you apart

How golden is our silence now?

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you

“Listen pretty sister
I got boys with toys to paint you red
I got silence now”

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you

You bleed as the world closes blinds
You scream as the pressure holds you tight
In this cage, you can’t breathe
When all you need to be is free

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you

Jews in Britain Thank Tricycle Theatre For Refusing to Accept Israeli Sponsorship

Letter to the Artistic Director of the Tricycle

Dear Indhu Rubasingham,

Protest outside the Tricycle Theatre November 2013
Protest outside the Tricycle Theatre November 2013

We write to thank you for refusing to accept Israeli sponsorship of the Jewish Film Festival.

We particularly appreciate that you distinguish between Jews in Britain and the Israeli State. We could not be further apart from the Israeli state. The insistence of the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival on including sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy, even when you generously offered an alternative, has made their priorities clear: not Jewish people or Jewish film but the hijacking of Jewish culture to disguise Israeli policies and particularly its bloodied image. Its murder and maiming of Palestinians and others in the Middle East has been going on for many decades. But its recent unrestrained, sadistic attack on Gaza has reinforced its genocidal intentions against the Palestinians.

We are particularly appalled as Jews that our suffering as a people is the occasion and the excuse for the genocide of others. We are aware of the suffering of others, which is why we have said, unlike Zionists: Never again – for anyone. Including of course Tamils in Sri Lanka, about which you would be familiar.

Those of us who were part of the demonstration in front of the Tricycle last November against Israeli sponsorship of the JFF, which was led by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, welcome this decision of the Tricycle to respect the multi-racial nature of the community of which it is part, by refusing blood money from apartheid Israel.

We are a group of Jews in Britain including from Israel and are appalled that you have been subjected to false accusations of anti-Semitism. Zionism cynically uses the sufferings of Jews to silence critics of the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. This is an abhorrent attempt to intimidate a local theatre for refusing to be enlisted to serve the Israeli State, in order to camouflage its most recent assault on hospitals, UN schools in which thousands were sheltering, children, and civilians of all ages.

We take this opportunity to share with you a few examples of how Israel harnesses culture as a propaganda tool.

1) Israeli artists who receive government sponsorship are contractually obligated to promote the state as a condition of their sponsorship, which includes Israeli films that are promoted as being critical; but while they might show some criticism their overall message is to present Israel as a democracy and camouflage its apartheid.

If they receive funding by the state, Israeli artists who play internationally are expected to be political ambassadors and must sign contracts which declare their cooperation with state marketing aims. The standard Israeli sponsorship contract states:

“The service provider (i.e. artists) undertakes to act faithfully, responsibly and tirelessly to provide the Ministry with the highest professional services. The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel.”

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/putting-out-a-contract-on-art-1.250388

2) In 2005, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit of Israel’s Foreign Ministry emphasised:

“We are seeing culture as a hasbara (i.e. propaganda) tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture.”

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/about-face-1.170267?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.225%2C2.239%2C

3) In 2008 the Israeli Foreign Office identified London as one of the hubs it targeted for “Brand Israel”. It stated:

“The Jewish community has to be part of it for it to succeed. It’s very important for us to convey the message to them that a better image for Israel and a better performance of that image is part and parcel with Israel’s national security.” “But it’s mainly it’s an attempt to change the mindset of people when it comes to Israel” “”That doesn’t mean conducting an advertising campaign, but the execution of a program that will support the brand identity… it could include organizing film festivals” “… the hope-for result is a change in peoples’ perception of Israel.”

Source: http://www.jpost.com/International/Israels-rebranding-efforts-to-focus-on-Toronto

In short, any event accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy or from any other Israeli state bodies is legitimising the Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and its genocidal attacks on the Palestinians, including the Gaza Strip that Israel turned into a concentration camp.

We value the Tricycle and as your loyal supporters, your audience, we ask that you will not renew your association with Israel, as long as it violates international law, and until the 3 conditions set out in the Palestinian call for boycott demanding Israel meets its obligation and comply with international law (see http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1801).

Jews in Britain Against Genocide

Senator Nick Xenophon on Israel’s Occupation of the Palestinian Territories

In the Australian Parliament, Senator Nick Xenophon describes in detail why the Palestinian Territories are indeed occupied according to international law, also highlighting that Israel’s own highest court stated in 2004 Israel holds the Territories in belligerent occupation.

Related Links

Xenophon Smashes Brandis-Abbott Spin On Occupied Palestine
Senator Nick Xenophon’s speech to the Australian Senate on Palestine: Abbott government spin on Palestine is “factually untrue, legally ignorant and most unhelpful”

Mariza Plays at the Mediterranean Festival in Apartheid Israel

Palestinians expelled in the Nakba
Palestinians flee invading Israeli forces in 1948
Today, May 27th 2014, Portugese fadista Mariza played at the Mediterranean festival in Ashdod despite a petition and letters from supporters of the BDS movement asking her to respect the Palestinian-led boycott of Israel. Sadly, Mariza’s performance will be utilised as propaganda to obscure Israel’s abuses of Palestinian people and colonisation of their lands. Israel unashamedly uses all culture as propaganda to represent itself and its torment of Palestinians as ‘normal’, operating a sophisticated global network controlled by the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel. This Hasbara Apparatus strenuously attempts to prevent the attainment of basic rights, freedom and justice for Palestinians and sabotage actions which support these such as BDS.

Mariza sang in Ashdod, which before all its Palestinian inhabitants were expelled to Gaza by invading Israelis in 1948, was called Isdud or Asdoud. Israeli forces surrounded the town during Operation Pleshet, shelling and bombing it from the air. For three nights from the 18th October, the Israeli Air Force bombed Isdud. With the exception of its two schools, its crumbling mosque, and one of its shrines, Isdud was obliterated when Israel occupied it in on the 28th October, 1948. Most of the Palestinians who were driven from their homes then are corralled by Israel’s apartheid fence in Gaza now, only 40 kms (25 miles) south of their homes in Isdud. Along with their descendants, they are besieged and subjected to ongoing collective punishment by Israel.

The Mediterranean festival illustrates the disingenuous sanitization of Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against Palestinians, through the appropriation of Mediterranean culture and music. Similarly, Israel subsumes Palestinian and Mediterranean food like falafel, hummus and couscous.

When on Saturday 25th May, Mariza appeared in Lisboa as the musician headlining the UEFA Champions League opening ceremony, she later celebrated having a photo with Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Perhaps she will have another opportunity to learn from him why Ronaldo has expressed his support for Palestinians, such as raising money from the sale of sports shoes by his club’s charity foundation for schools in Gaza through auction, and though belated she will realise she should have not performed in Israel and will refrain from returning.

Co-authored by Yael Kahn

Moddi, Don’t Entertain Israel, the Oppressor of Palestinians

Open letter from Gaza to Moddi: Do Not Entertain Our Oppressor!

Dear Moddi

[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