From Israeli citizens to Baaba Maal - Please don’t legitimise Israel’s occupation and apartheid in Jerusalem and elsewhere
Dear Baaba Maal,
“I STAND AS ONE BECAUSE I BELIEVE WE ALL DESERVE TO LIVE IN SAFETY “ (Baaba Maal)
We are citizens of Israel who actively oppose our successive governments' policies of belligerent occupation, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid against the indigenous people of this land, the Palestinian people. We are active supporters of the Palestinian-led global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel.
Music is a unique experience which can elevate us and inspire the best in humanity. As one of the most respected African artists worldwide and a global ambassador for OXFAM, you have been playing music and writing songs for years, inspiring numerous people with your powerful political and social lyrics across the globe from Senegal to Syria, from Mauritania to Palestine…
You have spoken out and have requested the world to pay attention to the plea of women, you have raised awareness about HIV and you have asked world leaders to stand with more than 60 million people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and persecution.
These women and men, living under oppressive regimes, displaced and made refugees, have taken your music into their hearts, feeling that even in the most remote refugee camps, they are not alone, they have a voice.
Therefore, here we are, a group of Israelis, raising our voices and replying to your call. We are asking you not to perform in the "Jerusalem Sacred Music" festival that will take place in September 2016 in the old city of occupied East Jerusalem.
Under current conditions, performing in an Israeli festival is anything but sacred. The so-called Sacred Music festival has been going on for several years now in the heart of the old city of Jerusalem that has been occupied since 1967. For more than 20 years now, almost 4 million Palestinians from the west bank and the Gaza strip are prohibited from even entering Jerusalem and arriving in the venue of your performance performing. For more than 68 years, 5 million Palestinian refugees have been scattered around the world, living in refugee camps, and not allowed to return to their homes in Palestine, which they were forced to leave in 1948.
And with every moment, more and more Palestinians are being displaced from their homes and their lands due to the violence imposed upon them by Israeli settlers, military and government officials, including the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Jerusalem municipality, which sponsors the “Sacred Music festival!
Will you hear the voice of the millions whom Israel is working ceaselessly to drive off their lands ??
Israel keeps millions of Palestinians under military control, restricting them from access to water, education, freedom of movement and land. It has demolished over 40,000 homes in the past 48 years, 2000 of which were in Jerusalem.
More than 300,000 Palestinians who reside in Jerusalem do not have the right to vote for the Israeli parliament, or the possibility to build homes for their children. More than half of them are still living without proper connection to water and sewage. 75% of the Palestinians in Jerusalem are under the poverty line.
In this context and in light of unanimous demands by an overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations, more and more artists refuse to perform in Israel. Performing in Israel at this time would undermine any positive effect the music might have. Any positive message or inspiring music would be overshadowed by the association with the Israeli State, serving its “business as usual” propaganda purposes.
Many artists have realized this, and have decided to cancel their performance in Israel. Many more are refusing to book shows in Israel in the first place.
As a person and an artist who has seen the pain in refugee camps and conflict areas you visited, and after all the suffering you have witnessed in person, we ask you to remember and respect the Palestinian refugees in Gaza, The West Bank and in East Jerusalem and all the other Palestinian refugees worldwide, and cancel your show in Jerusalem, just as Salif Keita and Aziza Brahim cancelled their performance in the Sacred Music festival in previous years.
We urge you to do as many of your other colleagues have done and refuse to perform in Israel until occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing here come to an end!
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within