The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been urged to abandon a planned gig in Israel, after it emerged that they performed at a pro-Palestinian gig that raised over US$500,000.
The superstar band, who have won seven Grammy Awards and sold over 65 million albums worldwide, are due to perform in Tel Aviv on September 10, days after gigs in Beirut and Istanbul.
Activists are urging them to cancel the show in the Jewish state, pointing out that the group has previously claimed to support the Palestinian cause.
In November last year the band performed at a variety show for the Hoping Foundation in London, raising £392,000 (US$630,000).
The Foundation supports projects for the children of Palestinian refugees who were displaced when Israel was violently created in 1948.
In an open letter to the band, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel (CBSI) in Lebanon urged the band to cancel the concert.
“Your decision to support Palestinian refugees must have come from an understanding that for 64 years Palestinians have been denied the right to return to their land and to be compensated for loss incurred by the Zionist colonization of their land…As a result, we find it strange that less than a month after your benefit concert you announced your decision to play in Israel,” the letter says.
The “Californication” stars have never played in Israel before and Asad Ghsoub, a CBSI spokesperson, called on the band to continue its support of the Palestinians.
“The fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have recently done a fundraiser for Palestine in London means they are aware of what is happening and are attuned to the Palestinian question. We expect more from them,” he said.
Supporters of Palestinian human rights have long urged international musicians to boycott Israel, which they accuse of being an apartheid state for its harsh occupation of the West Bank and belligerent policies towards native Palestinians.
Among those who have declared that they will not play in the country until abuses of Palestinians end are U2, Roger Waters and Gorillaz.
Ghsoub said the concert would provide legitimacy to the oppression of Palestinians and said if they were to cancel it would make a “huge” difference.
“The Israelis are using this to say everything is fine and to whitewash whatever they are doing [to the Palestinians].”
“(If they canceled) it would be a huge event. If artists saw that the Red Hot Chili Peppers did not go it could encourage others not to go.”
In January Belgian singer Lara Fabian cancelled a gig in Lebanon after it emerged that she had sung at a Zionist campaign celebrating the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel, known by Palestinians as the Nakba– the catastrophe.
French-Moroccan comedian Gad Elmaleh also pulled out of a planned trip to Lebanon in 2008 after allegations that he had been supportive of the Israeli army.
The full text of the letter can be read below.
Open letter from Lebanon to the Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Come to Lebanon, but not to Israel: Until All Palestinians Have the Right of Return”
25 April 2012
Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers,
Last November you played at a benefit for Palestinian refugee children at Cafe de Paris in London. Your decision to support Palestinian refugees must have come from an understanding that for 64 years Palestinians have been denied the right to return to their land and to be compensated for loss incurred by the Zionist colonization of their land. Fighting for the implementation of this right is the central tenet of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). As a result, we find it strange that less than a month after your benefit concert you announced your decision to play in Israel.
Come to Lebanon on September 6th, but honor the 2005call from Palestinian Civil Society, and do not go to Israel on September 10th. Come to Lebanon and learn of the oppression we have also endured at the hands of the Israeli army and its collaborators; unlearn the myths Israel propagates. The soil that Arabs have cultivated for centuries, in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, has been militarily occupied for decades by Israel. The Palestinians have been denied their right to return to their land solely because they are not Jewish. The essence of Israeli colonialism in the region is about control over the land using military mechanisms that also prevent refugees from returning. Your participation in last year’s event supporting Palestinian refugees suggests you sympathize with Palestinian refugees’ struggle for the right of return.
Numerous bands and artists have already heeded Palestinian Civil Society”s 2005 Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a reaction to its occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian refugees inalienable right to return to their homes, as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Music cannot be isolated from politics. A visit to Israel is viewed by Israel, and internationally, as implicit support for Israeli policies and indifference to the victims of Israeli crimes. Ilan Pappe, an anti-Zionist Israeli historian and strong supporter of the BDS, recently wrote: “The cultural image in Israel feeds the political decision in the west to support unconditionally the Israeli destruction of Palestine and the Palestinians.”
We ask you to follow in the steps of Cat Power, the Pixies, Gorillaz Sound System, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Bono/U2, Devendra Banhart, among others, who did not perform in Israel, and to support the call for boycott that was recently embraced by Roger Waters and Pete Seeger. In the letter Roger Waters wrote announcing his support of a cultural boycott of Israel, he said:
My conviction is born in the idea that all people deserve basic human rights. My position is not anti-Semitic. This is not an attack on the people of Israel.
This is, however, a plea to my colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines, to join this cultural boycott.
Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa”s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and whites and blacks enjoyed equal rights.
And we are right to refuse to play in Israel until the day comes – and it surely will come – when “The Wall” of occupation falls…
It is not only the Palestinians who have been victimized by Israel. We, in Lebanon, have suffered a great deal. Israeli aggressions against Lebanon began in 1948, with the occupation and annexation of 30 Lebanese villages, and have continued regularly since then. Most recently:
1. 2006: More than 1000 Lebanese civilians were killed by Israel in the 33-day most aggressive onslaught by Israel. The July 2006 war was regarded as a crime against humanity and a war crime by a tribunal of international judges.
2. 2006 to present: Millions of Israeli cluster bombs (from the July 2006 war) and land mines (from the 22-year occupation) still contaminate Lebanese agricultural land. These bombs continue to kill and injure people.
3. May 15, 2011: Israeli soldiers shot and killed 11 civilians and injured more than 100. These unarmed civilians were on the Lebanese border with Israel, and had been calling for their legal and legitimate right to return to their homes in Palestine.
4. 1948 to present: Israel continues to deprive 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from their right of return to their homes and land and villages from which they were forced to leave at gun point in 1948. The refugees are not allowed to return only because they are not Jewish!
In response to Israel’s Freedom Flotilla massacre, the prominent Scottish writer, Iain Banks, wrote in the Guardian that the best way for international artists, writers and academics to “convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation” is “simply by having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.”
We urge you not to allow your music and talent to be used to whitewash the crimes of this outlaw state.
We urge you to stand with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and globally by supporting our people’s struggle for equality in our land and on our terms.
Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon