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26 May 2015

Caetano and Gil: Be true to the Tropicalia way -- Stand with the oppressed and refrain from entertaining Israeli apartheid and occupation

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is deeply troubled to learn that you are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2015, while Israel continues unabatedly with its severe oppression against the Palestinian people. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev) and the Jordan Valley, building illegal colonies on occupied Palestinian land, and continuing the medieval siege of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are among the direst aspects of this regime of oppression. We urge you not to associate with­­ this regime of oppression by cancelling your scheduled concert in Tel Aviv.

Performing in Israel today is the equivalent of performing in Sun City in South Africa during the apartheid era. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who Gil mentions in one of his songs in support of the black South African struggle against apartheid, has repeatedly declared that Israel created an apartheid system that is comparable -- if not worse -- to the one that existed in South Africa [1]. Why would two conscientious artists like yourselves lend their name to such a regime?

Aside from its occupation and denial of Palestinian refugee rights, Israel maintains more than 50 racist laws that discriminate against its “non-Jewish” citizens, the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state. [2] Even the U.S. Department of State has criticized Israel’s “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens. [3]

Your scheduled concert would fall right after the first anniversary of Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza. This past summer, Israel committed what some world leaders considered a massacre [4] against the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, killing more than 2,168 Palestinians, including over 500 children. [5] Israel’s 51-day long assault annihilated entire families in their homes. [6] All what remains of these families are the official records documenting that they ever existed. A racist Israeli chant mocked the hundreds of Palestinian children murdered by Israel during its massacre in Gaza: “Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.” [7] Singing in Tel Aviv, some 70 km away from the besieged Gaza Strip, would send all Palestinians the message that our lives do not matter and ourhuman rights are not worthy of consideration.

Today, the latest target of Israel’s racist policies are the approximately 60,000 African migrants and asylum seekers who have crossed into the country for shelter from persecution and abject poverty in their home countries. Instead of offering them protection, Israel regards the African migrants as a “cancer” and a threat to the “character of the Jewish identity of the state.” [8] Under its repressive laws African asylum seekers can be imprisoned for up to a year and unlawfully offered a small monetary sum to leave the country. [9]

The struggles of the indigenous Palestinians and the African asylum seekers would be best served if you to stake a principled stance against Israel’s racist and colonial oppression by refusing to entertain Israeli apartheid. Please do not perpetuate the silence and the wall of denial that stops the world from seeing the daily realities of degradation, racial terror, land theft, ethnic cleansing that we Palestinians are struggling against, and similarly prevent people from acknowledging the racist exclusion and repression that African asylum seekers are resisting.

In 1969, both of you were imprisoned by the Brazilian military government because of the political content of your songs and you were only able to write your music freely while in exile in London. Millions of Palestinians are now languishing under Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid. More than 5,000 are in Israeli prisons, of whom at least 500 are children. [10] We hence, appeal to you as we have appealed to conscientious artists all over the world to refrain from playing in Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa, until it recognizes our rights under international law.

Your Tropicalia Way stands against racism and for social justice,so do not offerIsrael a fig leaf to cover its human rights violations with. As Elvis Costello wrote, after cancelling a scheduled, sold-out performance in Tel Aviv in 2010:

“There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.” [11]

Aside from Elvis Costello, prominent international artists from Roger Waters, Sting, the late Gil Scott Heron, Snoop Dog, Carlos Santana, Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Lauryn Hill and Faithless, among others, have all cancelled their performances in Israel.

PACBI and the broader BDS movement, representing the absolute majority of Palestinian civil society, thus appeal to you to respect our struggle. We ask you to uphold our strategy of non-violent resistance and refrain from crossing a picket line called for by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive Israelis [12].

 

We urge you to heed our call by refusing to entertain Israeli apartheid.

 

 

Sincerely,

PACBI

 

 

www.pacbi.org

 

 

 

 

 

pacbi@pacbi.org

 

 

 

 

Notes:

[1] http://www.tutu.org.za/archbishop-tutu-adds-voice-to-israeli-apartheid-week-9-march-2014

 

[2] http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-Discriminatory-Law-Database

 

[3] http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154463.htm

 

[4] Brazil’s president and France’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014 as a “massacre.”

[5]http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10491:statistics-victims-of-the-israeli-offensive-on-gaza-since-08-july-2014&catid=145:in-focus

 

[6]http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10561:on-the-27th-day-of-the-israeli-offensiverafah-under-israeli-fire-war-crimes-committed-against-palestinian-civilians-complete-families-annihilated&catid=36:pchrpressreleases&Itemid=194

 

[7] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/gaza-graveyard-sing-joyful-israeli-youths

 

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/19/-sp-african-migrants-speak-out-about-life-in-israel-detention-centres-holot

 

[9] Ibid

[10]

 

http://www.dci-palestine.org/issues_military_detention

 

 

 

[11]

 

http://www.elviscostello.com/news/it-is-after-considerable-contemplation/44

 

 

 

[12] http://boycottisrael.info/

 

Posted on 26-05-2015


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