Israeli citizens respond to Henry Rollins

January 19, 2016

Dear Henry Rollins,

We are Israeli citizens active against our government's policies of ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid. We write to you in relation to your statement of 18 January 2016 [1], concerning your performance in Israel. We support the Palestinian civil society call for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) [2].

We are disappointed to read your statement condemning the boycott of Israel as "silence", when in fact the cultural boycott is a communicative act par excellence. As Israelis we witness unprecedented engagement by Israeli society in discussion about Palestinian rights and Israeli oppression, as a direct result of BDS and especially as a result of the cultural boycott cancellations. In particular, the Nakba can no longer be buried and references to it silenced, as had been before BDS victories.

The cultural boycott also traverses countries and continents in its unification of activists and fans, breaking the silence on the Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and occupation and, significantly, bringing to the forefront the Palestinian right of return.

For decades, under the disguise of the so-called failed "peace process", Israel was able to dictate the spectrum of "ideas, discussion ... perspectives". BDS has changed this and has been the catalyst for a wider public discourse. 

You state you "disagree with Israel's dealings with Palestine... very much", therefore, you should embrace the boycott as a tool to challenge the Israeli hasbara (propaganda), which exploits international gigs in Tel Aviv to fend off any attempt to hold Israel to account for its crimes.

When you state, "I don't think a cultural boycott is a good way to go", did you intend to reject the right of oppressed people to choose how to resist?  Don't you appreciate that Palestinians are best placed to judge whether boycott is, for example, effective? As the cultural embargo is critical to the Palestinian-led tactic of holding Israel to account do you understand that your statement is entirely contradictory to Palestinians' right to resist their oppression?

Please bear in mind that a concert in Tel Aviv entertains the privileged Israeli citizens who profit from the apartheid status quo, while millions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are not even allowed to go to Tel Aviv. Far worse and as you would know, 45 minutes away from the Havana Club Palestinian youths, who cannot attend your performance, are detained, tortured, sometimes murdered by Israel, which needs performers like you to whitewash these crimes. 

We hope you will reconsider and as any person of conscience you would choose to respect the Palestinians call for boycott by refraining from rebooking your performance in Israel. 



Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within