Dear Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Philip Selway, Thom Yorke,
We are a group of Israeli citizens, writing in support of the public appeal to you to cancel your show in Israel. We support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and ceases its systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.
BDS is a rapidly growing non-violent, human-rights based Palestinian-led movement. It was launched in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, and amongst its many worldwide supporters – including directors Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, scientist Stephen Hawking, musicians Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, KOOL A.D., Devendra Banhart, Talib Kweli, the international alliance Artists against Apartheid – are Jews and citizens of Israel who object to Israel's attempts to construct a facade of normalcy over Israel's systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.
We would like to share with you our concerns regarding your scheduled performance in Israel and urge you to cancel it:
The people who are calling for this boycott are Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land governed by Israel. We, and many around the world, are standing in solidarity with them because millions of Palestinians have been suffering under Israeli occupation for decades.
International artists, from mainstream to underground, have been coming to Israel for decades, singing to Israelis about ending the Occupation, singing to Israeli youth about “building bridges” through music, and singing about political change. But in those decades things have only gotten worse for Palestinians. That's because only pressure on Israel from the outside can force Israel to give Palestinians their basic human rights. And that's why the boycott movement was formed, to create this kind of pressure on Israel.
It's exactly like the boycott on South-Africa: when artists started canceling their performances it created an atmosphere where companies felt that they need to divest from South-Africa, and eventually that led to the South-African government ending apartheid.
The boycott the Palestinian people called for in 2005 is their means of non-violent struggle. Musicians and artists are not asked to cancel their performance as politicians, they are asked to do so as visible citizens, privileged with the power to help the severely oppressed, or, at least, not cross the picket line of their struggle.
Your performance in Israel will be a deliberate act of ignoring the boycott that Palestinians are calling for in order to liberate themselves. The problem Palestinians are facing is not that Israeli youth aren't inspired enough -- it's that an Israeli regime has been systematically oppressing them for decades.
In his report to the United Nations General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk notes that the tendency of the international community to overlook Israel's encroachment on the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military control in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has resulted in the apartheid features of Israel's current day de facto occupation. Mr. Falk points out that Palestinians are, for instance, barred from using the same roads as the residents of their neighboring Jewish-only settlements; their mobility is restricted even between their own villages, and sometimes within them, by military checkpoints, fences and a 26 ft. high cement wall, resulting in denied access to adequate medical services and work; their private agricultural lands are illegally confiscated and annexed to expanding Jewish settlements, and violent settlers attacks on their olive groves and mosques are systematically overlooked.
As early as 2010, Oxfam released a report in which it highlighted the need for steady substantial pressure on Israel “to ensure an immediate, unconditional, and complete lifting of the blockade” of Gaza. As Mr. Falk notes, “the BDS campaign seeks to respond to the failure of Israel to uphold its obligations under international law with respect to the Palestinian people”.
Israel's apartheid policies also mean that in addition to everything else, a Palestinian fan of yours living under Israeli occupation is not allowed by law – and denied by walls, fences and checkpoints – the chance to come hear you perform in Tel-Aviv.
The decision of Palestinian organizations to call for boycott, as well as that of Israelis to support it, was not taken lightly. Civil society placed this call because Israel has managed to sustain its system of oppressing Palestinians by utilizing cultural events to whitewash its crimes and render its system of oppression invisible. We urge you to cancel your performances in Israel and not grant your seal of approval to Israel's ongoing crimes and human rights violations.
Boycott from Within