Israeli citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Trnavský jazzyk Jazz Festival in Slovakia



July 2018


Israeli citizens Call for Rejection of Israeli Sponsorship of the Trnavský jazzyk Jazz Festival in Slovakia


Dear organizers and participants of Trnavský jazzyk Jazz Festival,

We are a group of Israeli citizens active against our government's policies of racism, occupation and apartheid [1]. After decades of campaigning for democracy and equality here, we have come to the conclusion that the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, led by Palestinian civil society, is the only means of bringing about such democracy and equality in Israel/Palestine. We have learned that the Slovak city of Trnava is to host a jazz festival - Trnavský jazzyk - at the end of July 2018, that Israeli musician Avishai Cohen will be performing and that the Israeli Embassy is a partner to this event. We are asking you to refuse the Israeli government’s sponsorship of this event.

As we write this letter, Israel is committing a systematic massacre of unarmed civilian protesters on the besieged Gaza Strip border. These protesters are claiming their basic human rights and dignity, as well as an end to the siege and their right to return to their homeland [2]. Israel murdered nearly 140 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the past three months, including minors and children. Furthermore, in the West Bank, as well as within Israel itself, Palestinians are subjected to a growing system of apartheid, with over 60 laws denying them basic equality and civil rights [3]. Persecution of Palestinian political parties is also escalating [4], and blood libels by Israeli public officials against the Palestinian population are common [5]. Similarly to the situation in the West Bank, the State of Israel is committing systematic house demolitions and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin communities [6], including the ongoing attempt to ethnically cleanse the Bedouin village Khal Al Ahmar in the West Bank [7].


One of the main strategies used by the Israeli foreign ministry is known as 'whitewashing': Israel diverts attention from its crimes to music and art, with a clear propaganda purpose [8]. The Israeli government counts on events such as yours to support this propaganda campaign. The Israeli government subverts artistic work for the perpetuation of a racist oppressive system.


A jazz festival can be the highest expression of the values and qualities of humanity. However, by accepting Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs funding, the Trnavský jazzyk festival would lend legitimacy to our government's war crimes and violations of international law, and would whitewash an oppressive system of occupation and apartheid. We urge you again to refuse Israeli government sponsorship.

We note that the BDS campaign does not target individual Israeli artists who perform privately abroad (for example, when the local festival pays for their flight and accommodation). However, if the Israeli company is endorsed in this event, Avishai Cohen's performance at the Trnavský jazzyk festival should be cancelled, since it would be used to whitewash apartheid and severe human rights violations, as we have already mentioned above.


As Israeli citizens, it is our responsibility to resist the criminal policies of our government – the legalized discrimination against non-Jewish citizens, the occupation, the apartheid system, and the expulsion of the great majority of the native Palestinian population. We urge you to refuse the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy, and stand on the right side of history.


We would be interested in any question or comment you may have.


Boycott from within (Israeli citizens for BDS)