From Israeli citizens to Paolo Fresu - please boycott the Israel Festival !

Dear Paolo Fresu, We are citizens of Israel who are critical of and active against our government’s policies of colonialism, occupation and apartheid towards the Palestinian people [1]

In particular, many of us are veteran activists in

the campaign against Israel’s illegal colonization and settlement and wall

construction policies in the occupied West Bank.


We write to you in support of the Palestinian call for BDS - boycott,

divestment and sanctions against Israeli institutions [2], specifically the

call for artists to refrain from playing in Israel [3]. We would like to

make sure that you are aware of all the moral implications of performing in

Israel at this time. With respect to the Palestinian call, we ask that you

postpone your concerts, to the time when Israel ends its military

occupation and apartheid policies.


The reality of Israel at present is that all government ministries and

institutions are in one way or another involved in the oppression of the

indigenous Palestinian population, fundamentally utilizing civilian aspects

of the government and civil society to uphold, sustain and perpetuate the

military occupation. Particularly relevant for you is the fact that

Israel's government openly uses cultural events in order to divert

attention from its war crimes [4]:


*"We see culture as a Hasbara [public relations] tool of the first rank,

and I do not differentiate between Hasbara and culture"* ~ Nissim

Ben-Sheetrit, former deputy director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry


The Israeli Ministry of Tourism, which sponsors the Israel Festival, which

you are scheduled to participate in, advertises and facilitates tourism in

occupied Palestinian territories [5], and facilitates tours for artists

such as you, as part of generating photo-ops : *"video and stills footage

of the singer and her entourage, both during the concerts and visits to

tourist sites in Israel, to be used in international marketing campaigns.*"



The Ministry of Culture supports the settlement construction in the West

Bank, and actively silences protestation of this war crime [7].


Due to all this, in past years, other jazz musicians have also cancelled

their participation in the Red Sea Jazz Festival, including Eddie Palmieri,

Cassandra Wilson,Jason Morana, Portico Quartet, Tuba Skinny, Andreas Öber

and Stanley Jordan. Since Jazz festivals have become one of Israel's most

commonly used forms of public relations, many jazz, blues and soul

musicians have cancelled their performances at similar state-initiated Jazz

festivals,. Others have expressed regret after after learning of the

political situation here. Some names which come to mind are Gil

Scott-Heron, Macy Gray and Meshell Ndegeocello. [8]


The Israel Festival could have been a festival to celebrate the free spirit

of Jazz music, and this beautiful tradition of oppressed minorities.

Instead, it uses music as a tool for whitewashing military occupation,

apartheid and oppression of the Palestinian people. In view of all this,

wem as Israeli citizens, are asking you: Please cancel your participation

in the festival. Please boycott apartheid.


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



Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within