We were told by your team that nobody would care if you don’t play, but we do and that’s why more than 60 international groups signed a letter calling on you to cancel: “The call to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights was first made in 2005, by over 170 (now over 200) Palestinian civil society groups. The boycott is a non-violent tactic against oppressive state power. It would be extremely disappointing if artists of your stature chose to break this call for solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly at a time when Israel is escalating its daily attacks on them.”
Dear Blixa Bargeld and Teho Teardo,
We write you this second letter, as a follow-up to our previous appeal . It is commendable of Blixa to make a TV film on the ex-Israeli musician and Boycott from Within member, Dror Feiler, due to air 11 September on Arte TV channel. It is especially important as the film also shines a light on Israel's savage siege of Gaza.
However, we can't ignore Blixa's team implying that somehow Blixa and Dror discussing cultural boycott in the film would mitigate your planned concert in Tel Aviv four days after the Arte TV broadcast. In reality the effect is the opposite. We understand that you consider making a film about Dror and playing Tel Aviv as your artistic statement, but that would reduce the Palestinians to a mere background for your artistic expression and work.
Blixa's choice to ignore Dror's and others' efforts to dissuade him from breaking the boycott would be at the expense of the Palestinian people, who request artists to refuse to perform in Israel as once South Africans asked international artists to boycott Sun City. We know today that Israel uses culture as a political tool to whitewash its regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Your boycott will send a strong message to Israel that there is no business as usual with a state implementing apartheid and committing grave crimes with impunity. With the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable, it is up to us, including conscientious artists, to take a stand. Thousands of artists around the world have already signed pledges to respect the boycott of Israel, from Ireland, to the UK, to the USA and other countries including Norway . This sends Israel a strong message that there are costs for its violations of international law and that the world stands with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and rights.
If Blixa goes ahead with this performance, the Israeli government will be able to instrumentalise Blixa, just as he would be instrumentalising the people of Gaza and Dror, who has been campaigning for Gaza, taking part in four flotillas to Gaza. Your team seems to be unaware that it is Dror's solidarity actions that resulted in Israel prohibiting him from visiting, but on the other hand you would be welcome in apartheid, because your performance is in fact an act against the Palestinians’ will.
As the Israeli government view “culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank”, you performing in Israel amounts to complicity with this explicit goal of diverting attention from Israel's daily and systemic war crimes. Brian Eno was extensively quoted in the media yesterday, 7 September: “As artists we should be free to choose to respond to the injustices of governments, yours or mine.” We urge you to choose to respect the Palestinian boycott call.
A collaboration with Dror would not absolve at all any responsibility for entertaining Tel Aviv, where the burning of children with phosphorous in Gaza was planned and sanctioned.
As the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel have written directly to Blixa and Teho: "We are asking you to not side with the oppressor by performing in Tel Aviv 15th September. Don’t let your music normalize the racist brutality and the ethnic cleansing Palestinians suffer from day in day out under the control of the Israeli Apartheid regime. Instead, let your music stand on the right side of history. If you do so, you will look back with a clean conscience when the day arrives that we Palestinians are granted the same human rights as anyone else."
To entice musicians to breach the boycott they are often promised that they would be able to speak out from the stage against the occupation. But is speaking to Israelis - the beneficiaries of apartheid - more important than listening to Palestinians - apartheid's victims - and their call to you to cancel? One of the few musicians who actually managed to speak out from stage was Roger Waters: “I made a short political speech, and suddenly it was as if I was from Mars when I suggested this was the generation of young Israelis that should make peace with their neighbors. They went very, very quiet.” Waters has since refused to cross the boycott picket line and is calling on musicians to respect the boycott.
We know your concern for human rights and your opposition to Israel's policies and we hope you can live up to your own beliefs. We therefore ask that you show your support, without ambiguity, to justice and international law and human rights. Please respect the Palestinian call for cultural boycott and refrain from breaching it and refusing to cross this picket line.
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian Call for BDS from Within