From Israeli Citizens to Aerosmith: Don’t take part in the whitewashing of apartheid through music.

December 2016


From Israeli Citizens to Aerosmith: Don’t take part in the whitewashing of apartheid through music.


Dear Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford,


We are Israeli citizens, opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. Many of us are veteran human rights activists who have long worked against these policies. It's our long years of anti-racism advocacy that brought us to the understanding that the most effective way to stop the apartheid system enforced by Israel is to deny its economic fuel and political legitimacy. Therefore, we strongly support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), which is aimed at ending these Israeli violations [2]. We write to you to ask that you heed the Palestinian call for solidarity, and cancel your concert in Israel.


We are well aware that this is not your first concert in Israel, and that you had already performed there in 1994. Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, in which you are about to perform, sits atop the Palestinian village of Jarisha, from which the indigenous Palestinians were killed or expelled during the Nakba - the ethnic cleansing committed by Zionist militias in 1948. Eight other Palestinian villages also stood within the current municipal area of Tel Aviv, and were ethnically cleansed and demolished in 1948, along with Palestine's biggest city, Yaffa, which had been was swallowed by Tel-Aviv and over 95 percent of its residents had been ethnically cleansed and are refugees to this very day. The remaining indigenous Palestinians of the city became "enemy of the state", relocated and ghettoized, their land and property liquidated, re-purposed for Jewish immigrants, or demolished [3].


Today, the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa municipality continues discriminative practices, with over 500 Palestinian families under threat of eviction, further impoverishing the indigenous Palestinian population while heavily investing in Jewish-owned enterprises, and heavy, disproportionate and brutal policing [3]. The Israeli army command and control center is situated in the heart of Tel Aviv, and serves as the headquarters for Israel's military occupation, population control, and massacres of the indigenous Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.


In the past year's time, Israel executed over 260 Palestinians in the streets of the West Bank. Approximately 29% of them were children [4]. Mass arrests have risen to 7000 prisoners at any given time. Quadrupling the number of child prisoners to over 400, and doubling the number of prisoners held without charge, trial, or release date to an approximate 700. All Palestinian prisoners in Israel's prisons are subject to systemic ill-treatment, medical neglect, beatings, and torture [5]. House demolition has doubled since last year, including whole villages, leaving over a thousand people homeless, over half of them children [6].

Gaza is still under a debilitating siege. 2 million people, over 50% of them children, crammed into 365 square kilometres, with power outages of up to 18-22 hours a day, 95% of the water undrinkable, civilian infrastructure devastated, including hospitals, schools, places of worship, and other institutions. Over 40% are unemployed, 80% of the population rely on humanitarian aid to cover their very basic needs, including food, basic education, basic health care, shelter, blankets, mattress or cooking stoves. The UN has declared that by 2020 - within less than 4 years - Gaza will become 'unliveable' – meaning that there will effectively not be enough resources for people to survive. Israel's restrictions on movement trap the population inside, without recourse to search for better living conditions than it is providing. [7]


Within Israel itself, Palestinian citizens are subjected to a growing system of apartheid, with 50 laws denying them basic human rights, which their fellow Jewish citizens get to enjoy [8]. Persecution of Palestinian political parties is also escalating [9] and Israeli public officials' blood libels against the Palestinian population is spreading like wildfire [10].


Lastly, Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their right to return to their homeland, in accordance to international law and resolutions [11], while continuing to seize their land, and expel people from their homes up to this day.


Despite all this, Tel Aviv is used as a marketing tool, cast in the role of the “cool” and "diverse" capital of a "democratic" Israel [12], while hiding a history and present of ethnic cleansing, military occupation, discrimination, and apartheid, against the indigenous Palestinian people. Performing in Tel Aviv today is just like performing in South Africa’s Sun City at the time of the apartheid regime.


It is also instructive to look at BlueStone, the local production company who’s in charge of your concert in Israel. As can be seen on the official BlueStone Facebook page [13], the company regularly works with corporations that are heavily complicit in Israel's military occupation, such as Motorola [14], Hewlett-Packard (HP) [15], and Leumi Bank [16]. BlueStone also caters to many Israeli universities and colleges which are complicit in Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people [17]), including the notorious Ariel University which is situated in the illegal Ariel colony [18]. Finally, Bluestone has no qualms about making political statements in support of the Israeli army, including posting a YouTube video of soldiers goofing around to their own version of The Harlem Shake, in full uniform, next to a tank, near the besieged Gaza border [19].


Finally, we know that you care greatly for children, and do plenty of humanitarian work. Steven, you yourself even created a philanthropic initiative aimed at bringing hope to girls who suffered abuse. We won't repeat the above information about Palestinian child prisoners, but we will say that this crisis is so prevalent that the UN Special Representative for Children had recommended adding Israel to an official list of serious violators of children’s rights, including harassment, imprisonment, torture, sexual abuse, injury, and straight out murder [20]. Please also note that half of the Palestinian population are in fact minors [21], millions of whom live in conditions of abject poverty, without financial, or personal security [22].


It is for all this that we ask you to stand in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people, and say “no” to the whitewashing of apartheid, deliberate impoverishment, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing, through music. Please cancel your concert, and boycott apartheid Israel.



Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within