Tindersticks cancelled their Tel-Aviv shows
Dear Stuart Staples, David Boulter, and Neil Fraser of Tindersticks,
We are a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel, as a means of bringing to an end the decades-long systematic oppression of the Palestinian people, which occurs daily in our name. We were surprised to learn about your upcoming performances in Israel and urge you not to let your music become part of the Israeli facade of normalcy, enabling the ongoing and ruthless oppression of the Palestinian people.
On July 9th, 2005 over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations of Diaspora refugees, citizens of Israel - which are systematically discriminated against - and Palestinians under occupation and siege, have issued the BDS Call for an international boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. At this time, if you come to perform in Israel, you are not only crossing the picket lines of this struggle, you are also actively contributing to the normalization of a situation in which a Palestinian teenage kid, a fan of your music who has been living under Israeli martial law throughout her entire life, is not allowed by law to attend your concert in Tel-Aviv.
It goes without saying that the daily implications of Israeli martial law under which Palestinians live, go much farther than a teenage girl not being able to attend a show because of her ethnicity: for many decades, Palestinian farmers have been fighting against dispossession, being continuously denied access to their own agricultural lands, their most basic needs, seized by Israeli settlements and the separation wall. The Israeli government grants the military a free hand at arresting any Palestinian, for any and no reason, for any amount of time, and without charge or viable trial. Gazan Palestinians are put under a cruel and severe Israeli siege, not allowing any Palestinian to exit or go to the Strip, banning exports all-together, and making the economy completely dependent on Israeli imports. West Bank Palestinian water and resources are exploited by Israeli settlements and cities. West Bank Palestinians are also not allowed to travel on some of the roads connecting their villages and cutting through their own land because they are restricted to usage by Israelis only.
An international performance in Israel elicits a message of 'business as usual' -- that nothing has to be changed because things are fine the way they are. In the past few months, many artists have adhered to the BDS Call to shake off this facade of normalcy, and canceled their planned performances in Israel -- artists such as Gorillaz Sound System, The Pixies, Elvis Costello, Gill Scott-Herron, Klaxons, Leftfield, Devendra Banhart, as well as filmmaker Mike Leigh. Some artists who undermined the boycott and performed in Israel have asserted that they empathize with the suffering of the Palestinians but that they are "only coming to play music and not do politics"– that their message is a humane one, and that music dwells on a different realm from that of politics. However, when the time came for them to perform, regardless of their own opinions, regardless of the humane message they wished to bring with them, regardless of what they had said on stage, their performances were interpreted amongst the Israeli public opinion as an endorsement of Israel's policies and an approval of the situation. Placebo, for example, played to a huge crowd of Israelis waving Israeli flags, as the Israeli media was keen to expose. Elton John's performance was widely celebrated as a pro-Israeli act. Almost every performance – large as small - is announced in the Israeli media in relation to undermining the boycott and siding with Israel.
For decades on, people in Israel have been electing governments and joining an army that keep a population of about four million people in an open-air prison of sorts, with no rights, no citizenship, and with a structured prevention of basic control over their own lives. In the current social reality inside Israel, your performance will inevitably become embedded in this discourse: performing in Israel will actively contribute to the construction of a facade of normalcy to daily horrors which take place 45 minutes from the venue of your show in Tel-Aviv.
Boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts were proved successful against South-Africa apartheid, and music had a huge part in this success when Artists Against Apartheid raised awareness to the South-African issue with their Sun-City single. As Elvis Costello stated in his cancellation announcement, "there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung... sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it".
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within