From Israeli citizens to Santana - Please do not play in apartheid Israel

May 2016

To Carlos Santana,

We are citizens of Israel who oppose our government's military occupation and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people, and support the Palestinian-led, worldwide civil rights movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel (BDS). We write to you now in order to urge you to stand firm in solidarity with the oppressed, and say NO to the whitewashing of apartheid through music. We urge you to cancel your concert in Israel. An explanation follows.

Back in 2010 you were one of the first world-renowned artists to publicly refuse to cross the BDS picket line, along with the late Gil Scott Heron and Roger Waters. 

Since 2010, nothing has improved for Palestinians languishing under Israel's discriminatory, repressive regime. In Gaza, Israel has conducted two more concentrated onslaughts. The larger-scale of the two, in 2014, which resulted in over 2000 Palestinians massacred under Israel's use of enormous fire-power, over 500 of them children. 89 families were completely wiped out. 2000 children were orphaned. 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged. In between massacres, Israel continues firing at Palestinian farmers and fishermen on a daily basis and tanks make regular incursions into farming fields. Just last week, Israel bombed Gaza four days in a row, resulting in the death of a woman, and the injuries of an elderly man, a young woman, and several children.

In the West Bank, just in the past half year, over 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's armed forces and armed civilians, raising allegations of extrajudicial executions, by NGOs such as Amnesty International, and global political figures. A fourth of the killed were children and minors. In addition, Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes en-masse, including the uprooting of Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab (southern Israel). Military raids for the mass arrests of Palestinians are a daily routine, as well as the strangulating reality of checkpoints, closures and curfews.

Palestinians within Israel have experienced an upsurge in arrests and police brutality. Racist gangs roaming the streets, chanting "Death to the Arabs", have become a common phenomenon. Indigenous Palestinians citizens of Israel are dehumanized by Israeli lawmakers and, public figures, including the leader of the so-called opposition, Isaac Herzog, who takes pride in the fact that his party is not a party of "Arab lovers".  

As citizens of Israel who are deeply concerned about the current situation and the future, we ask you to heed the call of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israel, similarly to the call "I ain't gonna play Sun City", issued several decades ago in the campaign against apartheid South Africa.

Israel has made the BDS call illegal in 2011. We choose to defy the law, knowing that the punishment meted to us, by our government, is by far lesser than that which is meted out to our Palestinian counterparts. As we speak, Israel has enacted a travel ban on Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement. Barghouti's only "crime" is to act as a human rights defender, traveling the world and appealing to people's conscience and sense of moral duty.

Dear Carlos Santana, please stand with the disenfranchised indigenous Palestinian people, do not lend your art and name to Israeli apartheid and violations of human rights. Please don't play apartheid Israel!

BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within