Vanessa Paradis cancelled her performance in Israel
Dear Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp,
We are Israeli citizens. It has come to our attention that Ms. Paradis is planning on performing in Israel in March 2011, and that you are both expected to meet Israeli President Shimon Peres. You may not be aware, but there is an ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, due to its policies of apartheid and occupation. We, as Israeli citizens endorse this boycott, and we are urging you to take this opportunity to take a stand on an issue crucial to human rights and as such, to human lives as well.
You may be asking yourself what all this means and what it has to do with you. Indeed, you may feel you are being thrust into a situation which you had no interest in entering in the first place. However, we hope that we can help the both of you overcome your feelings of disconnect, outline the realities of the grim world you have entered, and give you the opportunity to choose to make a difference. Make no mistake; Because of your celebrity status, the choice you make will have an instant effect on the lives of millions of children, women and men.
Palestinians are living under a brutal military regime which practices policies of apartheid in what is known as Israel and the Occupied Territories. The army that controls everyday Palestinian life, at the barrel of a gun, is Israel's army. This means that Palestinians depend on the mercy of this army, controlled by the Israeli government, which for over 60 years, has been murdering, maiming, arresting civilians, all the while stealing their lands by extreme and brutal force. While illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories flourish, under the guise of "natural growth" (http://www.jewcy.com/uncategorized/unnatural_growth), Palestinian land is being robbed, homes are being demolished, whole communities left homeless, in the occupied territories as well as inside Israel. (background: http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=42702).
The system of the Israeli occupation is far too complex for such a short letter to cover (we will gladly answer any question that arises, as a result of its complexity), but it is important for us to convey to you the second half of the story:
In 2005, Palestinian civil society (students, worker's unions, women's groups, children's rights advocacy groups and many others) united in one voice, asking that people, institutions, states and corporations stop cooperating with Israel. Thus the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was born (http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52). We stress: If Palestinians had equal rights in Israel and in the occupied territories, under the law of Israel, they would have no reason to appeal to the international court and communities.
How is this relevant to you? Much like the appeal made to artists in the 80's, who considered performing in Sun City, South Africa (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjWENNe29qc), we are appealing to you now. In the asymmetry of relations between the growing state of Israel and the shrinking lands of Palestinians, performing in Tel Aviv and socializing with senior Israeli politicians is a deeply partisan act. The appeal to you, Ms. Paradis and Mr. Depp- as individuals, as artists-creators of culture, as influential celebrities- is this: Please do not entertain apartheid! Please do not legitimize the senior figures responsible for this apartheid at the expense of its victims. Please remember that a Palestinian girl who is a fan of your music and lives in the occupied West Bank village of Bil'in will not be allowed by Israel to come and see you in Tel Aviv.
Furthermore, in light of the eagerness you have expressed to meet Israeli President, Shimon Peres, (so reports our local media: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3976246,00.html) we feel we must address the issue specifically. Consider the following:
Shimon Peres is notorious for a long list of alleged war crimes, as well as being the architect of various Israeli policies founded in grave violation of international law and in blatant disrespect of universally recognized human rights. These include:
- Shimon Peres initiated or supported several wars of aggression in which civil infrastructure was targeted and numerous innocent civilians were either killed or maimed, including many children (notably "operation Grapes of Wrath" in 1996).
- Shimon Peres master-minded Israel's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program, making it the 4th largest nuclear superpower in the world today.
- Shimon Peres Ordered the kidnapping and mistreatment of Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear whistle-blower who was illegally drugged and kidnapped by Mossad in September 1986 and kept in absolute solitary confinement for 11.5 years. Even after completing his 18 year prison term, he is still being persecuted.
- Shimon Peres vehemently opposed the rule of International Law, as demonstrated in his refusal to let Spanish courts apply universal jurisdiction against Israeli war criminals, as well as his attack on the legitimacy and the findings of the UN report led by Judge Goldstone.
- Shimon Peres has dealt most of his life with the procurement and the manufacturing of weapons, including WMDs.
- Shimon Peres was a driving force in the illegal settlement development in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank.
This list is far from exhaustive, but we believe our point has been made in that respect. It is also important for us to make it clear that your meeting with Shimon Peres is already being used for propaganda purposes, as you can see from the article we brought forth. As one of the talkbackers on this article expresses: “I'm not a fan..but if they like Israel.. I will LOVE them and will be their biggest fans.”
There is no way your presence here can escape being interpreted as a political act. It will therefore not be about the sheer joy of your music and films. Instead, it will have the effect of contributing to Israel’s image of normality, to its government as well as to the rest of the world. We, therefore, ask you to reconsider.
Please do not allow the state of Israel to use your reputation to whitewash its crimes!
We encourage you to inquire further and follow your conscience,
Ofra Ben Artzi
On behalf of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within