From Israeli Citizens to DGTL Tel Aviv participants: Please do not legitimize Israel’s apartheid



August 2018,

To: International artists

We are writing to you about your scheduled performance in the DGTL Tel Aviv festival.

We are Israeli citizens who oppose the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. Our long years of anti-racist activism have brought us to the understanding that the most effective way to stop the apartheid system here is to boycott Israel. Therefore, we strongly support Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), aimed at ending the apartheid regime by means of a nonviolent strategy [2].


Right now, Israel commits an ongoing massacre against unarmed civilian protesters in Gaza [3] and legislates apartheid laws [4]. We are writing to ask you to heed the Palestinian call and cancel your performance in the Festival. By doing so, you will join numerous conscientious artists who have chosen to support the oppressed [5].


The festival promoters state that “As one of the most sustainable festivals in the world, DGTL knows they have the responsibility… to help reduce waste, lower CO2 emissions and increase awareness and ignite action about sustainability amongst their visitors”. While these goals are of course laudable and important, it is a shame that by bringing the festival to Tel Aviv, which they call “one of the most progressive cities in the Middle East”, the organizers will in fact help to suppress awareness and action around another crucial issue: the sustainability of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom and basic rights.


Every international artist who plays in Israel serves the government’s agenda of whitewashing its war crimes against the Palestinian population, by creating a "business as usual" atmosphere, wherein the status-quo, a reality of colonization and military occupation for Palestinians, becomes normalized. Maintaining this atmosphere relies heavily on creating a facade of Israel as a hip, advanced, progressive state with a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, committed to environmental issues. The Israeli government issues celebratory press releases and social media postings, directly linking international artists who perform in Tel Aviv to the State of Israel. As summed up by an Israeli official:"We see culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture" [6].  


DGTL promises that there will be “a Revolution program in Tel Aviv, with tailored goals for the city.” Indeed, a radical revolution is necessary in the way Israeli people and their government think. This includes Tel Aviv, a city partly built on the ruins of Palestinian villages which were violently depopulated in 1948, during the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine [5][6]. In fact, the festival is to take place at the Yarkon Park venue, administered by the Municipality of Tel Aviv, an organ of the Israeli regime. This venue too has been set up on land taken from pre-1948 Palestinian villages [7].


Israel is becoming increasingly notorious as a place that forward-thinking artists who care about equality and freedom want nothing to do with. We are confident that this reality can also help convince companies to divest from Israel and contribute to moving the Israeli government to change its unjust policies, just as it did in apartheid South Africa. The matter is in your hands too.


As Israeli citizens, we call on you to take a stance for real justice and equality. Forty years ago, festival organizers all over the world stood with South Africans struggling against apartheid, and endorsed the BDS campaign at the time. Now, more than ever, international organizers of art and culture events are morally obligated to stand with the oppressed Palestinian people and help bring about an end to Israel’s policies of racism, occupation, and apartheid.


In view of the aforementioned facts, we ask you to cancel your participation in the DGTL Tel Aviv festival. We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.




Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within