From Israeli Citizens to Sander van Doorn - Please Say NO to the Minus 424 Festival in Masada!

October 2014

Dear Sander van Doorn,
We are citizens of Israel who are critical of, and active against, our government’s policies of colonialism, occupation and apartheid towards the Palestinian people. In particular, many of us are veteran activists in the campaign against Israel’s illegal colonization and settlement and apartheid policies in the occupied West Bank.
We write to you in support of the Palestinian call for BDS - boycott, divestment and sanctions - against Israeli institutions, and specifically the call for artists to refrain from playing in Israel at this time [1]. We would like to make sure that you are aware of all the moral implications of performing in Israel at this time, all the more so in collaboration with the Israeli government at the Minus 424 Festival. We ask that you postpone your gig in Israel, to the time when Israel ends its military occupation and apartheid policies.
The State of Israel was founded in 1948 on the basis of the ethnic cleansing of nearly one million Palestinians from their homes [2]. The state practices severe ethnic-religious discrimination against its non Jewish citizens [3]. Furthermore, The Israeli government is committing an ongoing massacre in the besieged Gaza strip [4], and a colonial apartheid regime in the occupied West Bank, which even conservative politicians in Europe have come to recognize [5]. This also means that Israeli war crimes are being committed under the nose of anyone traveling by car from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to the Minus 424 Festival in Masada. For example. along the road leading to the Dead Sea, the Israeli government is carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinian Bedouins, whom Israel wishes to expel from their run-down dwellings, to make way for expanding its illegal settlements in the Edumim area [6].
The reality of Israel at present is that all government ministries and institutions are in one way or another involved in the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population, fundamentally utilizing civilian aspects of the government and civil society to uphold, sustain and perpetuate the military occupation. Particularly relevant for you is the fact that Israel's government openly uses cultural events in order to divert attention from its war crimes. For example, Nissim Ben-Shitrit, former deputy director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry says: "We are seeing culture as a hasbara [advocacy] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture" [7].
Furthermore, The Israeli Ministry of Tourism, which sponsors the Minus 424 Festival, in which you are scheduled to participate, advertises and facilitates tourism in occupied Palestinian territories [8], and facilitates tours for artists such as you, as part of generating photo-ops: "video and stills footage of the singer and her entourage, both during the concerts and visits to tourist sites in Israel, to be used in international marketing campaigns" [9].
Due to all this, in past years, numerous international musicians have cancelled their performances in Israel, including  Cassandra Wilson, Elvis Costello, Faithless, Gil Scott Heron, Cat Power, Stanley Jordan and many others [10]. Since international music festivals have become one of Israel's most commonly used forms of public relations, artists who did participate in these have expressed regret after after learning of the political situation here. Two examples are Macy Gray and Meshell Ndegeocello [11] [12].
In view of all this, we, as Israeli citizens, are asking you: Please cancel your participation in the Minus 424 Festival. Please boycott apartheid.
We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within