An Open Letter to Mira Awad: Do not help Israel whitewash its atrocities in the Gaza Strip!

PACBI | 8 March 2009

PACBI — Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, March 8, 2009

Palestinian artists and intellectuals in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are disappointed by the news of your intention to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is writing to urge you not to participate on behalf of Israel in this contest.

To represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest will serve to polish the international image of an aggressive occupying state that has long been engaged in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It will communicate to the rest of the world that Israel”s war crimes and violations of international law are acceptable to us as Palestinians! May we remind you of some of the actions of the state you will be representing: the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians in 1948; the subjugation of 3.6 million Palestinians to a system of occupation and apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967; the long history of extra-judicial killing of Palestinian leaders and activists; the imprisonment of tens of thousands of Palestinians since 1948; the building of the apartheid wall; the recent vicious attack on occupied Gaza and the murder of more than 1,440 people (of whom at least 400 were children).

Your performance in this contest will be telling Palestinians that their suffering – the product of colonialism and racism – doesn”t matter. You will be giving a slap in the face to each and every Palestinian singer, musician, artist, filmmaker, writer, poet, as well as regular Palestinians, who have to struggle to overcome Israel”s deliberate efforts to silence their voice.

You may feel that it is important for you to represent Israel to demonstrate the full spectrum of Israeli society, which includes Palestinians living in Israel. This is utterly misguided. Until Palestinians living within Israel have full rights and do not suffer systemic discrimination and violation of their human and political rights, Israel has no right to portray itself as a healthy, multicultural society. And until it ends its occupation of Palestinian lands and complies with international law, it should be boycotted by all artists. You must realise that if you participate in such a high-profile event you will be seen not only as an individual singer, but as the representative of other Palestinian artists as well as Palestinians at large. Can you not see that by representing both occupier and occupied you will shatter the Palestinian message to the rest of the world?

It is also particularly appalling to us that you plan to perform alongside the singer Achinoam Nini, who has issued a letter blaming Israel”s brutal attack on the Gaza Strip on Hamas. She wrote: “I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas.” These words demonstrate that Nini expresses the colonial attitude of the occupier; she blames the victims for trying to defend themselves and she thinks she knows what is better for the victims than they do themselves – even if this means killing 1,440 and injuring more than 5,300 people.

The small Israeli minority who truly understands the colonial nature of Israel and its actions could not remain silent. Udi Aloni, Israeli film director replied to her: “You use your loving words in the service of your conquering people and call upon the Palestinians to surrender in a tender voice. You bestow upon Israel the role of liberator. Upon Israel – that for over 60 years has been occupying and humiliating them.”

Your singing partner has justified the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, actions which led the UN agencies and human rights organizations to call for war crimes investigations. What is worse, now you will be a partner in this justification, in front of the entire world. Whether you like it or not, your performance will be used to help Israel whitewash its atrocities in the Gaza Strip.

As you may know, virtually all Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural figures have called on their colleagues worldwide to boycott Israeli cultural and arts institutions due to their complicity in perpetuating Israel”s occupation and other forms of oppression against the Palestinian people. In response, in the past months, throughout the world, groups of artists, singers, film-makers, students and academics, have consolidated their efforts to show solidarity with the occupied Palestinians, to condemn Israel”s war crimes and its apartheid regime, and to call for effective political action such as boycotts, divestment drives, and sanctions (BDS).
We call upon you, as a Palestinian, to at least emulate the actions of artists, including Bono, Snoop Dogg, Bjork and Jean-Luc Godard, who have taken action to ensure they are not perceived to support Israel”s actions until it fulfils its obligations under international law and fully recognizes Palestinian rights.

Palestinian artists have also written to you urging you not to participate in this event. They note: “Israel”s image as a “democratic”, “enlightened” and “peace loving” state is what allows the international community to support it. Your participation in the Eurovision is participation in the Israeli propaganda machine. Every brick in the wall of this phony image allows the Israeli army to throw 10 more tons of explosives and more phosphorus bombs. We are sure that you also see these images and cry…. Please Mira, for the children of Gaza and for the future of every child in this land – Arabs and Jews – don”t be an accomplice to the killing machine.”

We add our voice to theirs and are hopeful that you will decide not to take part in this contest. We trust you are able to understand that your contribution will be used to endorse and justify the actions of the colonial Israeli government and army in the Gaza Strip. We hope that a decision based on principles will override professional advancement and career considerations.

Yours truly,


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Posted on 08-03-2009

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