Israeli citizens to KlezMORE Festival Vienna: Jewish culture shouldn't be used as a shield for Israel's crimes


October 2018

Israeli citizens to KlezMORE Festival Vienna: Jewish culture shouldn't be used as a shield for Israel's crimes

Primary ta

To the organisers of the KlezMORE Festival Vienna,

We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. We write to ask you to respect the Palestinian call and cut your ties with the Israeli embassy. Please hear us out.

We understand the importance of celebrating Jewish culture, especially in a place like Austria with an antisemitic history. However, as Jewish-Israelis it is important for us to point out that Judaism, Jewish people, and the state of Israel are not one in the same. It's heart warming to see Jewish traditions celebrated wherever Jewish communities thrive, but it's heartbreaking that Jewish communities would partner themselves with the state of Israel as it commits crimes against the Palestinian people that are evocative of what the Jewish people once suffered.

As we speak, since late March, Israel is committing an ongoing massacre in Gaza, of unarmed protesters who are calling for an end to the 11-year-long siege that Israel has imposed on them. This siege renders them prisoners of the biggest open-air prison in the world. In the past half year, Israel killed over 200 Palestinians and injured over 21,000, including children, medics and journalists [2].

In the West Bank, Israel has been employing a brutal, belligerent military regime for the past 50 years, and expanding its colonial settlement project, which a recent report of The office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights has described as “pervasive and devastating [violations of human rights], reaching every facet of Palestinian life”, further listing numerous violations such as "restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and education; their rights to land and water; access to livelihoods and their right to an adequate standard of living; their rights to family life; and many other fundamental human rights." [3].


Within Israel itself, Palestinian citizens are subjected to over 65 laws denying them basic equality, civil, and human rights [4], culminating in its most recent act of legislation: the 'Nation-State Law', which enshrines Israel’s discrimination into its equivalent of a constitution [5].


Israel's government explicitly uses international artists' concerts to whitewash its war crimes against the indigenous Palestinian population. It was best summed up by the former deputy director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry who said: "We see culture as a Hasbara [public relations] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between Hasbara and culture" [6].


It unfortunately follows that despite your intent to merely celebrate Jewish culture, Israel has already enlisted you in its service; both to distract attention from its human rights violations against the indigenous Palestinian people, and also to inextricably tie Jewish tradition with criminal state policies that have nothing to do with Judaism.


We ask you not to allow KlezMORE to be used as a shield for Israel's crimes. Please sever your ties with the Israeli embassy. 



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