An Open Letter from Gaza to Mireille Mathieu: Boycott Apartheid in the Name of Love!

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

The following call was issued by artists and musicians in Gaza, calling upon Mireille Mathieu to respect the boycott and cancel her performance in Tel Aviv:

Dear Mireille Mathieu,

We are a group of artists, musicians and singers from Gaza. It has come to our knowledge that you have plans to perform in Apartheid Israel! This has come to us as a surprise, given your anti-war positions, and music dedicated to confronting the kind of aggression that we Palestinians live day in day out under the military occupation of the 4thmost powerful military in the world. You once sang about your lament of soldiers going to war, ‘In line, soldiers of love” calling on them to, ‘leave in the name of love”. Yet you plan to entertain the Israeli armed forces that control, limit and demean our very existence, many of whom will be in the crowd for whom you intend to perform. Right now Israeli soldiers are committing with impunity all manner of well documented war crimes against us, the indigenous population of Palestine.

We are calling on you now to heed our call to boycott the only apartheid regime in the world that maintains our imprisonment. [1] In what main-stream Human Rights Organizations have called the largest open air prison in modern history we tell you that Israel”s five-year blockade, 63 years of dispossession and ethnic cleansing must come to an end. Until then we rely on people of conscience, including artists and musicians, to take a stand and refuse to perform there.
You are known as a compassionate person who came through poverty and hardship; your own mother was a refugee. Imagine then life for us in Gaza! Over two thirds of us are UN registered refugees, ethnically cleansed from our homes by the nascent Israeli army in 1948 to live the rest of our life in the Gaza concentration camp. Millions more refugees, living in exile, remain denied their right to return home to see their loved ones thanks to Israel”s policy of restriction of our movement and its refusal to abide by international law.

The four-year long ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, where we live, has made our existence even more intolerable, cutting off the main life-line of goods and people coming into Gaza, resulting in severe shortages of food supplies, basic goods and importantly items like cement which is vital to rebuild the 17000+ homes that have been destroyed by Israeli attacks. Injured and ill people are not allowed to travel abroad to receive all manner of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza: consequently over 600 sick patients have died because they had no solution but to stay in the besieged Gaza Strip where they spent their dying days, to the despair of their families. For us musicians, with our heritage of music and dance that we love to play, the Israeli siege denies us instruments, the possibility of receiving international performances and taking our music abroad. Israel”s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant that for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza [2]
In addition to this barbaric siege, in the winter of 2008-9, Israel attacked Gaza, committing war crimes and human rights violations against a population of which over half, an estimated 800.000, are children. During this merciless 23-day assault, 1,417 people were killed including hundreds of children, with over 5500 injured. These heinous crimes have been recounted in detail in the United Nations Goldstone report. [3]

In the face of an international conspiracy of silence, Palestinian Civil Society, almost unanimously, called for international artists to refuse to perform in Israel as part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign which is a non-violent method of holding Israel accountable to standards of equality and human rights that modern nations are accustomed to. Your performance in Israel would be a rejection of that appeal endorsed by the Global BDS movement. This includes hundreds of your fans who are fighting for justice for the Palestinian people through the BDS campaign. The BDS call is also endorsed by many South African anti-apartheid heroes such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who described as ‘unconscionable” [4] the prospect of the South African ‘Cape Town Opera” performing in Israel earlier this year.

A host of internationally renowned musicians have already joined this call by refusing to perform in Israel including Carlos Santana, Annie Lennox, Faithless, Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Gil Scott Heron, Massive Attack, Leftfield, Gorillaz Sound System, Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Devendra Banhart, Faithless, the Pixies and Devendra Bernhart. Roger Waters of Pink Foyd, another 60s icon dedicated to opposing war and oppression wrote a letter announcing his support of a cultural boycott of Israel. He said that in his view,
“..the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance.” [5]
We ask you to join their fight, our fight for basic human rights, equality and justice. It is time for the world to take real action to stop Israel’s war crimes against children, women and men; it is time for conscientious individuals to stand on the right side of history by refusing to condone the war crimes of the Israeli state.
We Palestinian musicians, singers and artists here in the Gaza ghetto dearly hope that one day we will have all the rights denied to us that any musician would expect, that is all we ask for. We will not be amongst the audience that will attend your concert in Tel Aviv!
We urge you to heed the Palestinian call for a boycott of apartheid Israel until it abides by International law; we call on you to stand on the right side of history and refrain from entertaining a regime that has committed and continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Will you reconsider?!
Signed by:

Mohammed Musa (Singer)
Mohammed Shahwan (Violinist)
Yousuf Fares (Oud player)
Saadullah El Banna (Singer)
Khamis Wafi (Musician)
Wael Wafi (Musician)
Isam Banna (oud player)
Said Wafi (Musician)
Khaled Faraj (Singer)
Mohammed Shaath (Violinist)
Mohammed Assaf (singer)
Fahmy Saqqa (Conductor)
Mounir Hallaq (Violinist)
Jammal Abu Shammala (Singer)
Mohammed Ahmed (Singer)
Fedaa Jerjawi (Singer)
Amjad Masri (Drums)
Jaber El Hajj (Guitarist)
Mahmoud Nawajha (Oud player)
Belal Shaaer (Musician)
Issa Abu Oudeh (Drums
Jamal Abu Oudeh (singer)
Khaled Salim (Singer)
Ahmed Musran (Musician)
Mohammed Najjar (Flute)
Mohammed Abu Ghalioun (Musician)
Fawqi Jawadeh (Qanoun Player)
Shadi El Aqqad (Musician)
Basem El Haj (Drums)
Emad Masoud (Singer)
Bassam Abu Jiab (Singer)
Fadl Lelli (Composer)
Samir Shataly (Chorographer)
Ismail El-Agha (Musician)
Naim Nasr (Composer)
Samir Mousa (Singer)
Ibrahim Zinaty (Musician)
Ibrahim Lulu (Oud Player)
Mohammed Abu Eisha (Musician)
Basem Shakhsa (Conductor)
Salah Abu Hamad (Composer)
Akram Ubaid (Director)
Soud Mohanna (Director)
Wael Yazji (Composer)
Mohammed El Masri (Composer)
Hassan Kharoubi (Musician)
Akram Hassan (Singer)
Mohammed Bardawil (Oud player)
Rami Okasha (Singer)
Samir Shatali (Choreographer)
Ali Abu Yasin (Director)
Zuhair Balbisi (Actor)
Sami Sattoum (Actor)
Hassan Khatib (Actor)
Inas Saqqa (Actress)
Majeda Taleb (Actress)
Hazem Abu Humaid (Director)
Wael Hajjou (Actor)
Jawad Harrouda (Actor)
Said Eid (Director, Actor)
Rami Abu Shawish (actor)
Mervat Hafez (Actress)
Hassan Aydi (Director)
Abdulnaser Eid (Actor)
Mohammed Lelli (Actor)
Fadi Ledawi (Actor)
Daoud El Haj Ahmed (Oud player)
Mohammed Abu Sido (Director)
Ahmed Abu Nasr (Dramatist)
Mohammed Abu Nasr (Dramatist)

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