To Luke, Hugh, Alexis and Peter - The Kooks,
We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people . Many of us are veteran human rights activists who have long worked against these policies. Our long years of activism have have brought us to the understanding that the most effective way to stop the apartheid system is to deny it economic fuel and political legitimacy. Therefore, we strongly support the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), aimed at ending these actions . We write to you to ask that you respect this call and cancel your concert in Israel, in solidarity with millions of oppressed people who are also asking for your support.
We would like to start off by saying that much like Sun City in South Africa under the apartheid regime, the city of Tel Aviv, where you are about to perform, is used as a tool for marketing the State of Israel as a "cool" and "cultured" democracy , while hiding a brutal history of colonization, even that of the city itself. Tel Aviv sits atop the ruins of the Palestinian villages Al Mas’udyia, al-Jammasin al-Gharbi, al-Shaykh Muwannis, Salama, and what was known as The Fisherman's Village . The inhabitants of these communities had been killed or expelled during the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing that Zionist militias (later to become Israel's army) committed in 1948 .
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the “Tel Aviv-Jaffa” story , in itself an emblem of the rest of Israel's apartheid regime. While Tel Aviv flourishes as Israel’s “beautiful face”, Jaffa suffers double the infant mortality rate , gentrification, with over 500 families facing forced eviction, discriminatory building permit and social funding policies, heightened policing based on the racial profiling of Palestinians, and an erasure of Palestinian culture .
In general, Israeli governance treats Palestinians as second class citizens, and even third class human beings. Over 65 laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel .
In the Gaza and the West Bank, Israel is employing no less than a belligerent military regime, applying daily, systematic lethal force .
Gaza is also under Israeli military occupation. It has been under an Israeli siege, with periodical vicious bombing campaigns. The worst of which, in 2014, resulted in over 2000 Palestinians massacred, over 550 of them children. Over 11,000 people were wounded, and civilian infrastructure was devastated .
In the West Bank, in the past 2 years, over 400 Palestinian children, women, and men have been killed by Israel's armed forces and armed civilians, raising well-founded allegations of extrajudicial executions, by NGOs such as Amnesty International as well as global political figures . A fourth of those killed have been children and youth under the age of 18. In addition, Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes en-masse (this also applies to the Palestinian Bedouin communities inside Israel). Military raids for the mass arrests of Palestinians are a daily routine, as well as the strangulating reality of checkpoints, closures, and curfews.
In 2007 The Kooks, alongside other artists, took part in a charity concert for Oxfam . All that we mention above, and much much more, was stated last year in a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, summing up Israel’s 50-year military regime over the West Bank and Gaza . The report calls it “five decades of de-development, suppressed human potential and denial of the right to development,” with an unemployment rate that is persistently among the highest in the world, West Bank poverty rate at around 33% and Gaza poverty rate at 50%, with Gaza’s economic performance over the past two decades being “the worst in the world”.
Luke, Hugh, Alexis, Peter - Palestinians are some of the most impoverished and oppressed people in the world. They are facing an ongoing catastrophe that Israel has every resource to solve, mostly by ceasing its theft and colonization of Palestinian land, its brutal military regime and its discriminative policies. Palestinian civil society has asked that artists support these demands by refraining from performing in Israel, as part of a broader, comprehensive boycott. As Israeli citizens and fans, we ask you to respect the Palestinian picket line, refrain from entertaining apartheid, and cancel your show in Israel.
Let us end by quoting Elvis Costello, who, upon cancelling his concert in Israel in 2010, stated: "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 ..." .
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within