Israeli Citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Athens Jazz Festival


May 2023




To: The Athens Municipality and the Technopolis Venue

Israeli Citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Athens Jazz Festival

We are hundreds of Israeli citizens, who are active against our government's severe violations of human rights and international law [1]. 

Many of us are the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Our lesson from the terrible history of the 20th century is one of upholding universal principles of human rights and standing up to repressive regimes.

We are writing to you with regard to the 22nd Jazz festival in Athens, organized by, and taking place at the Technopolis, a venue of the Athens Municipality. The Israeli embassy in Greece is a co-sponsor of the festival. We urge the municipality of Athens and cultural venues in Greece to follow the moral lead of Barcelona MAyor Ada Colau, who has recently severed institutional ties with Israel due to its severe violations of Palestinian human rights. [2] 

While we value musical and cultural exchange, we strongly believe your acceptance of Israeli embassy sponsorship serves the propaganda purposes of an Israeli government which commits war crimes. We strongly believe that this contradicts the spirit of global solidarity underlying your festival.

The Israeli government practices what notable international experts, including notable human rights defenders and organizations, such as Amnesty International [3], Human Rights Watch [4]and Israeli group B’tselem [5], have recognized as 'apartheid'. These Israeli policies deprive millions of Palestinians of their basic human rights. Moreover, severe discrimination to the extent of apartheid also exists within Israel's recognized borders, against its Palestinian citizens, with over 65 discriminatory laws [6]. This should be all the more evident from Israel's recent legislation of the so-called Nation State Law, which grants a constitutional stamp of approval to discrimination against millions of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories [7]. 

In addition to apartheid policies, Israel uses extreme violence to enforce siege and occupation on Gaza and the West bank. Please note Israel's ongoing attacks on the besieged Gaza strip, an open air prison [8]. IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman admitted recently that Israel’s actions in Gaza are “as far from pinpoint accuracy as you can get. They’re making Gaza City shake.” [9]. Meanwhile in the West Bank, Israeli forces kidnap and detain children [10], and Israeli soldiers escort Israeli settlers on pogroms in which the skulls of 3 year-old Palestinian children are fractured [11]. 

After decades of systematic oppression, there is now near unanimous global condemnation of Israel's occupation, discrimination and expulsion of Palestinians. This is due to a long, persistent struggle, including a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), initiated by Palestinian civil society [12]. This campaign is based on the global campaign to end apartheid in South Africa in the late 20th century.  

One of the main tactics used by the Israeli foreign ministry is to divert attention from its crimes through cultural whitewashing. This has been stated clearly by Israeli officials: "We see culture as a hasbara [advocacy] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture" [13]. 

The Israeli government is counting on festivals such as yours to help its propaganda efforts. In doing so, the Israeli government subverts artistic work, to serve the perpetuation of a racist oppressive system. By co-sponsoring a festival with the Israeli embassy in Greece, you are lending legitimacy to the Israeli government's apartheid policies and allowing these to continue. In the name of humanism and tolerance, as Israeli citizens, we urge you to refuse co-sponsorship of the festival by the Israeli embassy, this year and in the future! 

We will gladly address any comments or questions you may have. 


Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)