Israeli citizens call on Grace Kelly, Keyon Harrold, Nik West, and Stefano Bollani to cancel participation in the Tel-Aviv Jazz Festival

November 2018

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To Grace Kelly, Keyon Harrold, Nik West, Stefano Bollani,
We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. In the spirit of the BDS campaign to end apartheid in South Africa at the time, we write to ask you to respect the Palestinian civil society call [2], especially its cultural aspect [3], and cancel your participation in the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival. Please hear us out.
The festival is sponsored by the Tel Aviv municipality, which is a key means of public relations for the state of Israel [4]. We could discuss Israel's ongoing massacres in the besieged Gaza strip, which have claimed the lives of over 200 Palestinian children, women and men, and injured over 21,000, in just six months [5]; or Israel's brutal military regime and colonial expansion in the West Bank, which a recent report of The office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights has described as “pervasive and devastating [violation 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." [6]. However, we would like to stay focused on Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv is built on the ruins of indigenous Palestinian villages which Zionist militias- which later became Israel's army- ethnically cleansed in 1948, during what has come to be known in Arabic as "The Nakba"- The Catastrophe [7]. Within two years Tel Aviv annexed the Palestinian city of Yafa, ghettoising the surviving Palestinians residents under military rule in a single neighbourhood for over a decade, and settling Jewish immigrants in the rest of the city [8]
To this day, Israel continues displacing the indigenous Palestinians of Yafa (Jaffa), vis-a-vis the Tel-Aviv-Yafa municipality, using economic and legalistic means, evicting families, demolishing homes, and neglecting and defunding whole neighbourhoods, in a process of gentrification that favours Jewish-Israelis over Palestinians [8]The result of this systematic discrimination is one of extreme economic disparities that are embodied in an infant mortality rate 4 times higher among Palestinian citizens of Israel than that of Jewish citizens of Israel, in Yafa. This is the highest local disparity in all of Israel (the overall national disparity is 3 times higher mortality) [9].
The situation in Yafa is exacerbated by the fact that Palestinian citizens - 21% of Israel's population - are subjected to over 65 laws denying them basic civil and human rights [10]. Israel's most recent act of legislation: the 'Nation-State Law', actually enshrines apartheid into Israel's equivalent of a constitution [11].
While Israel uses international festivals in Tel Aviv to promote a false image of a 'cool, hip, vibrant democracy', it is for these constantly-deteriorating policies- both at the state and municipal level- that we ask artists scheduled to participate in the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival to refuse to lend their names to an event that serves to distract from Israel's crimes. Please do not legitimize Israel;'s apartheid. Please cancel your participation in the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within
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