Dear Bryan Adams,
We are writing to you about your scheduled performance in Israel. The reason we are writing is that as we were recently reminded by Radiohead’s controversial performance (1) that a performance in Israel is unlike a normal gig.
We remember well your condemnation of Israeli actions in the strongest possible terms during the Israeli assault on Gaza. If there is any doubt about the severity and consistency of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, one can pick at random among the reports of any of the main international human rights organizations. Such assaults on Gaza and other crimes are carried out regularly with overwhelming Israeli public support including from the 'left'/'pro-peace' Zionist parties.
Given that, and given your decision to perform here in December, we must conclude that you feel your performance here will be a chance to deliver a positive message of resistance, or at least to interject some humanity into a tragic situation. We are sure that this decision is based on a wish to contribute to a positive change and to human liberation. In our view, such a commitment compels us to consider the wishes of those with the most at stake in the situation.
In this context it is the Palestinian people who are exiled or living under occupation, or in a discriminatory political system. Practically every single Palestinian political and social organization is united in a call for international artists not to perform in Israel.
We are an Israeli group, so we cannot presume to speak for Palestinians, but the latter have made their views very clear. A good place to start is a statement (2) by the Palestinian campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel.
What we can tell you as Israelis is that protestations or messages of peace do not go very far in Israeli politics. After decades of condemnation by every international body and human rights organization, when Israeli military and Political leaders are fearing prosecution for war crimes (3), Israelis are not likely to be persuaded by a great song. As Elvis Costello said in this exact context:
"... There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than any- thing that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent" (4)
Like him, Lauryn Hill, Gil Scott Heron, Roger Waters, Sinead O’Connor, Talib Kweli, Naomi Klein and many others have refused to cross the Palestinian picket line.
We can also tell you that the Israeli government is very happy to claim a moral victory for itself whenever a well known artist performs in Israel or a distinguished academic visits an Israeli institution. For example, when American radical philosopher Judith Butler spoke at Tel Aviv university a few years ago, her plan was to use the opportunity to deliver an important critical message. The Dean of Tel Aviv university used the opportunity to make a speech about the wonderful democracy that Israel is and then had to leave for an important meeting. At the end of the experience Butler felt used by the university, and more importantly - Palestinians felt ignored by the word yet again.
Lastly, we suppose you feel an obligation to your fans who could love to see you perform in Israel. We too are Israeli fans of yours and as much as we would enjoy your concert, we would hate to see you perform here. To us and surely to many fans around the world, seeing one of our favorite artists cross a picket line would be far more disappointing than missing out on his concert.
Please reconsider your plan to perform here and please let us know if you have any questions.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/sep/12/israelandthepalestinians.warc... and see also ”In Unprecedented Move, British Police Summoned Tzipi Livni Over Suspected Gaza War Crimes: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.728619