James Blake: Limit Your Love of Israeli Apartheid

 The following letter to James Blake was issued by Boycott from Within:

Dear James Blake,

We are a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. We oppose our government’s policies of ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid, we strongly believe that international pressure is essential in bringing these crimes to an end and creating an equal and just society in this region. We are, therefore, asking you to cancel your planned show in Tel-Aviv on January the 27th.

The state of Israel denies Palestinians their rights and their freedom. To note but a few examples, Palestinians living in the West Bank suffer limitations on their freedom of movement and in many cases are denied the right to access their agricultural land. When they try to protest against the Israeli policies, they face brutal treatment [1]. Their relatives in the Gaza strip (56% of whom are children) live under an ongoing siege placing strict limitations on their access to food, clean water, medical supplies and construction materials [2]. This state of barbarism takes place only an hour away from your scheduled performance. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, 40 minutes away from the scheduled venue, kids are regularly being abducted from their beds in the dead of night and taken into violent police interrogations with no access to their parents or a lawyer [3,4].

The call for BDS was issued and signed by over 170 civil society organizations, representing all sectors of the Palestinian people: exiled refugees, those under a harsh military occupation, and those who remained in what later became the State of Israel. This non-violent initiative was inspired by a similar campaign of the indigenous people of South Africa against the former case of apartheid back there. Unlike its predecessor, however, the Palestinian BDS movement does not target Israeli individuals. It chooses instead to focus on public events that promote a facade of normalcy as well as targeting complicit institutions.

By performing in Israel, you will be lending your voice to the promotion and legitimization of a brutal military occupation as well as the siege of Gaza, a regime based on ethnic-supremacy and systematic discrimination, and the continued expulsion of Palestinian refugees. Many artists and public figures are now publicly supporting the cultural boycott of Israel which is backed by almost the entire community[5] of Palestinian cultural workers. Notable amongst those who chose to speak in support of BDS are Roger Waters [6], David R. Randall [7] and Maxi Jazz of Faithless[8], Elvis Costello, filmmakers Ken Loach and Mike Leigh [9], Author Alice Walker, prominent activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu[10] and many more. Others, who have already preformed here, declared that they shall not do so again and even expressed their regret for their choice to perform here. Macy Gray stated that: “I had a reality check and I stated that I definitely would not have played there if I had known even the little that I know now.”

In the past month, many fans and activists have addressed you on this matter and many comments have been made on your facebook and twitter accounts. These fans wrote many comments, which you have refrained from addressing and your representatives have chosen to delete or ignore. Sending a green light to apartheid is a stain that will not be erased by hitting the delete button. Dear James, the picket line has been clearly marked and we now ask you to decide: Which side are you on?

Please stand by the oppressed and refuse to play in apartheid Israel, until it complies with international law and respects the three fundamental rights of the Palestinians – equality, freedom and return.

On behalf of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

[1] Let”s stand with Shireen Al-Araj and the courageous people of Al-Walaja
[2] Guardian reporters experience first-hand Israeli efforts to intimidate Gaza fishermen and keep their fishing trips ever closer to shore
[3] Child Arrest in Silwan
[4] Israel”s war against Palestinian children continues
[5] Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
[6] Tear Down this Israeli Wall
[7] A Pebble in the Mainstream
[8] Faithless in South Africa
[9] PACBI Salutes Mike Leigh’s Moral Courage
[10] Israeli Ties: A Chance To Do The Right Thing

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