Israeli Citizens to Artists Scheduled to Perform in the Red Sea Jazz Festival: Don't Let Israel Use the Free Spirit of Jazz to Whitewash Apartheid


November 2022

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Israeli Citizens to Artists Scheduled to Perform in the Red Sea Jazz Festival: Don't Let Israel Use the Free Spirit of Jazz to Whitewash Apartheid

Dear Jacob Collier, Emma Rawicz, Mulatu Astatke, Jesús Molina, Giveton Gelin, and Cory Henry,

We are hundreds of citizens of Israel who oppose our government’s continuing
displacement of the indigenous Palestinian people via settler colonialism, military occupation and apartheid [1]. We write to you in order to make sure you are aware of all the moral implications of performing in Israel at this time. We also appeal to you in support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)'s call for artists to boycott the red sea Jazz Festival [2]. We ask that you postpone your concerts, to the time when Israel ends its military occupation and apartheid policies.

It is impossible not to address the venue of the festival and its history. Between the year of 1947-1948 Israeli militias committed ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population of Palestine. Over 500 villages were destroyed, massacres of thousands, and the fleeing of half the surviving population [3].

We refuse to forget that Eilat stands on what was once a Palestinian village called Umm Rashrash [4], and the whole area was renamed after the military operation of ethnic cleansing; grotesquely named “Uvda”, which is Hebrew for “Fact”, as in “creating facts on the ground”. Israel’s Tourism Ministry, one of the initiators of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, you're about to take part in, has no qualms about using this name [5].

The Eilat Red Sea Jazz Festival is in no way separate from the government and its policies. It is “initiated by Eilat city hall aid by Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Eilat Hotel Association and various business sponsors” [6]. The reality of Israel at present is that all government ministries are in one way or another involved in the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population, fundamentally utilizing civilian aspects of the government and civil society to uphold, sustain and perpetuate settler colonialism, apartheid, and military occupation [7].

Particularly relevant for you is the fact that Israel's government openly uses cultural events in order to divert attention from its war crimes [8]: "We see culture as a Hasbara [public relations] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between Hasbara and culture" ~ Nissim Ben-Sheetrit,former deputy director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism advertises and facilitates tourism in occupied Palestinian territories [9], and facilitates tours for artists such as yourself, in order to generate photo-ops to be used in international marketing campaigns [10].

The Israeli Ministry of Culture supports the building of colonies in the West Bank, and actively silences protestation of this war crime [11]. Due to all this, in past years, other jazz musicians have also cancelled their participation in the Red Sea Jazz Festival, including Eddie Palmieri, Jason Moran, Portico Quartet, Tuba Skinny, Andreas Öber and Stanley Jordan. Since Jazz festivals have become one of Israel's most commonly used forms of public relations, many jazz, blues and soul musicians have cancelled their performances at similar state-initiated Jazz festivals. Others have expressed regret after learning of Israel's systematic human rights violations and the way their performances are exploited to whitewash them. Some names which come to mind are Gil Scott-Heron, Cassandra Wilson and Meshell Ndegeocello. [12]

An international campaign has also been launched, based on our petition several years ago, and has gained the support of more than 20,000 people from all around the world. [13]

The Red Sea Jazz Festival could have been a festival to celebrate the free spirit of Jazz music, and this beautiful tradition of liberation through expression of peoples fighting off the chains of oppression. Instead, it uses music as a tool for whitewashing settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people.

In view of all this, we are asking you: Please cancel your participation in the Red Sea Jazz Festival.

We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.

Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

[7] -Amnesty International
-Human Rights Watch
[10] -
Eddie Palmieri, Jason Moran, Tuba Skiny,7340,L-4109716,00.html
Portico Quartet,7340,L-4317601,00.html
Andreas Öber
Stanley Jordan
Gil Scott-Heron
Cassandra Wilson
Meshell Ndegeocello ; ;