Erik Truffaz: Please Refrain Playing Your Saxophone in Eilat!

Erik_Truffaz_120609 The following statement from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel calls on Erik Truffaz to cancel his performance at the Red Sea Festival in Eilat.

Occupied Palestine
Dear Erik Truffaz,

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urge you to cancel your participation in the Red Sea Festival. We hope that this urgent appeal from us, a campaign that enjoys overwhelming consensus amongst Palestinian civil society, will convince you to cancel your participation in this festival.

Since you have visited the occupied Palestinian territories before, you must know that Palestinian jazz fans, in the occupied West Bank and particularly those in besieged Gaza, will not be allowed to attend your concert. As you may have seen, in the West Bank, Israel restricts Palestinians” freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks.  All the while, Israel continues to build its illegal wall on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans. In Gaza, Palestinians have been subjected to a criminal and immoral siege since 2006 and repeated vicious attacks, the latest of which was less than two months ago.  As part of Israel”s siege, not only various types of medicines, candles, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee and chocolate are prevented from entering Gaza, but also musical instruments from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians incarcerated in the world”s largest open-air prison [1].

The Red Sea Jazz Festival’s top sponsors are the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport as well as the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. The policy of using culture to whitewash Israeli violations of international law was openly confirmed by the Israeli government with the launch of a global ‘Brand Israel” campaign. According to an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the objective of this rebranding campaign, which “could include organizing film festivals,” is to convey the message that “a better image for Israel and a better performance of that image is part and parcel [of] Israel”s national security. Contrary to popular belief, national security is not just based on military power, it”s also a strong economy and a strong image” [2]. This language reveals – as did similar endeavours by the South African Apartheid regime – a cynical and systematic attempt at manipulating world opinion. It aims to obfuscate the real nature of Israel”s military occupation and apartheid and to divert attention from its ongoing war crimes by portraying it as a vibrant, cultural and artistic hub. Your performance will hence be interpreted, especially by supporters of Israel, as an endorsement.

It is not unusual for jazz artists to refuse to play in front of the segregated audiences at the Red Sea Jazz Festival.  Stanley Jordan has just cancelled his participation in this festival.[3]   Furthermore, In 2011, Eddie Palmieri [4] and Jason Moran [5] both quietly cancelled their gigs.

With Israel’s continued disregard for international law and the basic rights of the Palestinian people, the kind of solidarity we expect from people of conscience around the world is to heed the Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions, as they did in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Roger Waters recently wrote:

Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against 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 white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel.[6]

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has this view:

“International Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Apartheid regime, combined with the mass struggle inside South Africa, led to our victory … Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong … to perform in Israel”.[7]

The boycott is about turning away from the policy of appeasement of the oppressor and instead,  standing in solidarity with the oppressed.  By cancelling your planned performance at the Red Sea Jazz festival, you would be helping greatly to stop this unjust form of apartheid which denies Palestinians their basic rights. Boycotts were effective in stopping South African apartheid, and they can also work to stop Israeli apartheid.



In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel”s occupation and apartheid [8].  The 2004 Palestinian call appealed to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied [9] and thus contribute to the continuation of injustice.  Following this, in 2005, an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing BDS campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality[10].  The BDS movement adopts a nonviolent, morally consistent strategy to hold Israel accountable to the same human rights standards as other nations. It is asking artists to heed the boycott call until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid.” [11]

[1] BBC Guide: Gaza Under Blockage
[4]Latin Jazz Great Eddie Palmieri: Thank You for Cancelling Israel Performance
[5]Jazz Musician Jason Moran Cancels Concert in Apartheid Israel

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