An Open Letter to the Participants of the Red Sea Chamber Music Festival

                                                                                                                    February 12, 2011
Dear participants of the Red Sea Chamber Music Festival,
We, Israeli citizens and residents, Jews and Palestinians, are writing to you today to ask that you withdraw your participation from the 6th International Red Sea Chamber Music Festival.
As you may have heard, there is a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [1] (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and ends its decades-long systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. This call, launched by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, is supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu [2], the international alliance Artists Against Apartheid [3], South-African Artists Against Apartheid [4], Creative Workers Union of South Africa, 500 Montreal artists [5], 200 Irish artists [6], and many acclaimed cultural figures worldwide [7] including director Ken Loach, art critic John Berger, musician Brian Eno, UK duo Massive Attack [8] and classical guitarist John Williams.

For decades, Israel has been systematically violating Palestinian human rights: keeping millions of Palestinians in the West Bank under Israeli martial-law with no civil rights, maintaining an illegal siege on Gaza, denying the UN sanctioned 1948 Palestinian refugees right of return and compensation, and implementing dozens of racially discriminatory apartheid laws [9] inside Israel. Such violations, documented [10] by respected human-rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Oxfam, have been long recognized as unlawful by the UN. Yet, while Israel continues to implement its illegal policies and cannot even bring itself to freeze the illegal construction of additional Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, it is not even slightly held accountable by Western governments for its continued systematic violation of human-rights (see UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk's report [11]).
For this reason, inspired by the pivotal role the boycott movement has played in ending apartheid in South-Africa, hundreds of artists, academics, filmmakers, and writers worldwide have declared their support for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign.
Every international performance in Israel, big or small, is used by Israel to construct a facade of normalcy and functions as a means of obfuscating these ongoing human rights abuses. This is all the more true in the specific case of the Red Sea Chamber Music Festival, which is sponsored by Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Bank Hapoalim – a bank directly accountable for financing [12] economic activities which sustain Israeli control over the occupied territories. In the context of your upcoming performance, it is also important to note that Palestinians under Israeli occupation are not allowed by law – and denied by walls, fences, and checkpoints – to attend the festival and see your performance.
In the past year alone, dozens of artists, actors, and cultural figures have expressed their support for BDS and canceled their scheduled performances in Israel. Among them are director Mike Leigh [13], singer-songwriter Elvis Costello [14], actress Meg Ryan, American poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, US band The Pixies, and UK band Tindersticks. We urge you to join them in heeding the call Palestinian civil society has placed, and ask that you do not cross the international picket line of a people's struggle to bring an end to its oppression.
Ohal Grietzer
Dr. Dorothy Naor
Ayala Shani
Hamutal Erato
Dr. Kobi Snitz
Prof. Rachel Giora
Neta Golan
Shir Hever
Tal Shapira
Edo Medicks
Jonahtan Pollak
Eytan Lerner
Jonathan Stanczak
Gal Lugassi
Naama Farjoun
Nir Harel
Ofer Neiman
On behalf of
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within.