February 16 2016
To: The members of the Conseil de Paris
We are a group of Israeli citizens.
For almost 68 years, successive Israeli governments have implemented policies based on ethnic discrimination and supremacism. The State of Israel has stolen most land belonging to Palestinians citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948. The Israeli government has built a brutal apartheid system throughout the land. Most notably in the West Bank, where privileged Israeli citizens are living in illegal Israeli settlements under one set of laws, while millions of Palestinians are denied the most basic human rights under another set of laws which is enforced by the same Israeli regime.
We are opposed to our government's policies of racism, occupation and apartheid. We have come to the conclusion that international pressure must be applied in order to end these policies. Therefore, we support Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel. (1)
The BDS call includes a boycott of Israeli propaganda in the field of academy, culture and art (2). The government of apartheid South Africa invested a lot of money in whitewashing the country's atrocious crimes of apartheid by sending artists abroad. The Israeli government is doing the same, with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs paying
for the artists trips abroad. Such performances are not pure artistic events, but propaganda events for an oppressive regime. Thus for example, when French citizens protest against a performance by Israeli ensemble Batsheva, funded by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they are exercising their right to free speech, they are speaking out against Israeli government propaganda, and they have our full support!
In a landmark report last month, Human Rights Watch called on all corporations to completely end their business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem (3). In an important decision this week,a South African institution cancelled an academic conference on water issues in cooperation with the Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (4).
French political institutions claim they support justice and peace for the Palestinian people. However, in reality, several of these institutions have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, and more and more people across the world are taking note of this. For example, this month, we were surprised to learn that the French government is giving high-profile backing to an Israeli company,Shufersal, that profits from settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law. (5)
Now we are witnessing a hypocritical attempt by "pro-peace" French institutions in Paris to silence courageous and conscientious French citizens, who are speaking up for Palestinian human rights, and promoting sanctions to end Israeli crimes. We are following the political developments in France,and we stand in full solidarity with our French friends!
We denounce today's resolution by the City Council of Paris to impose draconian, anti-democratic measures to silence activists in Paris, against peace, in the service of Israeli Apartheid! We will continue to support BDS, and we call on you to reverse this shameful resolution!
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israeli
citizens for BDS)