From Israeli Citizens to Eddie Izzard: Please do not take part in apartheid, please boycott Israel!

March 2017


From Israeli Citizens to Eddie Izzard: Please do not take part in apartheid, please boycott Israel!


Dear Eddie Izzard,


We are Israeli citizens, opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid [1] and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people [2]. Many of us are veteran human rights activists who have long protested against these policies. Our years of activism have brought us to the understanding that the most effective way to stop Israel’s apartheid system is to deny it economic fuel and political legitimacy through a strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). We strongly support the Palestinian civil society call for BDS, aimed at ending Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians [3], and we write to you to ask that you heed the Palestinian, international and Israeli call (ours) and cancel your show in Tel Aviv.


The city of Tel Aviv, just like Sun City in South Africa under the apartheid regime, is used as a facade for marketing Israel as a “cool” and “cultured” democracy [4], while hiding a brutal history of occupation and ethnic cleansing:


Tel Aviv sits atop the ruins of several Palestinian villages, whose inhabitants had been killed or expelled during the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing that Zionist militias (later to become Israel's army) committed in 1948 [5]. In the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has employed a decades long military occupation, applying daily, systematic lethal force against Palestinians. In the past year and a half, over 270 Palestinian children, women, and men have been killed by Israel's armed forces and by armed Israeli civilians in the West Bank. Around 30%  of those killed were youth and children. [6]


Tel Aviv is but one example of Israel's violent policies towards the Palestinian people. Israel demolishes Palestinian homes en-masse [7] (this also applies to Palestinian communities inside Israel), and military raids for the mass arrests of Palestinians are a daily routine, as well as the strangulating reality of checkpoints, closures, and curfews.


In the besieged Gaza strip, Israel has conducted several vicious mass bombing campaigns in the past 7 years. The latest, in 2014, resulted in over 2200 Palestinians massacred, including more than 500 children, under Israel's use of enormous fire-power. Eighty-nine families were completely wiped out and 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged [8]. The fear of yet another onslaught is constant in the lives of the residents of the besieged strip, exacerbated by Israel's daily routines, firing at Palestinian farmers and fishermen, and tanks making regular incursions into farming fields. [9]


Within Israel itself, Palestinian citizens are subjected to a growing system of apartheid, with over 50 laws denying them basic human rights, which their fellow Jewish citizens get to enjoy [10]. Persecution of Palestinian political parties is also escalating [11] and Israeli public officials' blood libels against the Palestinian population are spreading like wildfire [12].


Over the years, you have expressed a great deal of solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle in south Africa, and its leaders, including Nelson Mandela. Prominent South African leaders have stressed again and again that Israel practices apartheid policies [13], which are in many ways even worse those practiced in apartheid South Africa [14].


International artists sometimes believe that they can change the situation here simply by communicating with their audience. Please allow us to challenge this assumption as a voice from within: For the Israeli government, and the majority of the Israeli public, the mere act of performing in Israel sends a message of “business as usual’, which outweighs any critique of Israeli policies. As long as international artists come to Tel Aviv (and as long as other sanctions are not strong enough), the Israeli government can use performances such as yours to market Tel Aviv as a hip place and co-opt any critique of its appalling conduct.


One could note the case of Roger Waters, who played in Israel more than 10 years ago, believing he would be able to make a significant contribution to opposition within Israel. However, as Waters himself told an Israeli journalist, he soon came to the conclusion that his words were mostly falling on deaf ears. Accordingly, he decided to support the BDS movement, and has been a vocal supporter of the anti-apartheid struggle, ever since [15].


This week, a groundbreaking report was submitted to the UN, detailing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people [16]. The Israeli and US governments acted swiftly to have the report removed. You are one of those who can help truth and justice prevail. We urge you to stand in solidarity with Palestinian artists and Palestinian civil society who are calling for a boycott on Israel. Please cancel your concert in Apartheid Israel, and stand against occupation and racism!



Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within