From Israeli citizens to the organizers of the One Day Jazz Festival - "In the name of humanism and tolerance", Please do not whitewash the Israeli government's crimes


From Israeli citizens to the organizers of the One Day Jazz Festival -  "In the name of humanism and tolerance", Please do not whitewash the Israeli government's crimes

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December 2019
Dear Organizers of the One Day Jazz Festival,
We are a group of Israeli citizens, who are active against our government's severe violations of human rights and international law [1]. We are writing to you with regard to the One Day Jazz Festival. which has just come to an end, according to our information. We understand that the Israeli embassy in Slovakia is a co-sponsor of the festival. Many of us are fans of jazz, and admire its power as a tradition of empowerment through expression by the marginalized and downtrodden. While we value the sharing of arts and culture, we are afraid that your acceptance of Israeli embassy sponsorship serves the propaganda purposes of the non-democratic Israeli government. We strongly believe that this contradicts your chosen motto - "In the name of humanism and tolerance"
The Israeli government practices what notable international experts, including Desmond Tutu and human rights defenders, have recognized as 'apartheid' [2] or an even worse form of human rights violation [3]. These Israeli policies deprive millions of Palestinians of their basic human rights. Moreover, severe discrimination to the extent of apartheid also exists within Israel's recognized borders, against its Palestinian citizens, with over 65 discriminatory laws [4]. This should be all the more evident from Israel's recent legislation of the so-called Nation State Law, which grants a constitutional stamp of approval to discrimination against millions of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories [5].
In addition to apartheid policies, Israel uses extreme violence to enforce siege and occupation on Gaza and the West bank. Please note that the Israeli army has killed more than 200 people, including 46 children [6], in the past 18 months in Gaza, as part of a lethal violent clampdown on Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are marching for their right to freedom and their right to return to their homeland. Meanwhile in the West Bank, Israeli forces kidnap and detain children [7], and allow Israeli settlers to go on violent rampages against the local Palestinian population [8].
Within Israel's recognized borders, a form of ethnic cleansing is being implemented against Palestinian Bedouin citizens of the State. For example, the Bedouin village of Araqeeb, which had existed before the establishment of Israel, has been violently demolished 165 times [9] by the Israeli government, as part of the racist Prawer Plan [10], to Judaize the area.
After decades of systematic oppression, there is now near unanimous global condemnation of Israel's occupation, discrimination and expulsion of Palestinians. This is due to a long, persistent struggle, including a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), initiated by Palestinian civil society [11]. This campaign is based on the global campaign to end apartheid in South Africa in the late 20th century. Unfortunately, Palestinians have to deal not only with Israel and its military power but also with a Europe which was more interested in according Israel special status than objecting to its crimes [12].
One of the main tactics used by the Israeli foreign ministry is to divert attention from its crimes to other aspects of Israeli society. This has been stated clearly by Israeli officials, one of whom says: "We are seeing culture as a hasbara [advocacy] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture" [13].
The Israeli government is counting on festivals such as yours to help its propaganda efforts. In doing so, the Israeli government subverts artistic work, to serve the perpetuation of a racist oppressive system. By co-sponsoring a festival with the Israeli embassy in Slovakia, you are lending legitimacy to the Israeli government and help it in its most important foreign policy objective of diverting attention from its ongoing crimes and allowing them to continue. In the name of humanism and tolerance, as Israeli citizens, we urge you to refuse co-sponsorship of the One Day Jazz Festival with the Israeli embassy!
We will gladly address any comments or questions you may have.
Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)