Open letter from Lebanon to Diana Krall: Don’t entertain an apartheid state!

17 July 2010

Dear Ms. Krall,

We learned, with great enthusiasm, that you would be performing in Lebanon on August 2nd. Many of us were excited about finally getting the opportunity to hear you live, since we had enjoyed your music for years. However, when we later learned that you are planning to perform in Israel on August 4th after your performance in Lebanon, we no longer are willing to attend your Lebanon performance.

As you know, music cannot be isolated from politics. A visit to Israel, particularly now, is viewed by Israel, and internationally, as implicit support for Israeli policies and indifference to the victims of Israeli crimes. A performance in Israel, regardless of intentions, helps Israel cover up its violations of international law, particularly its criminal siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and its recent bloodbath aboard a humanitarian relief ship carrying hundreds of international human rights activists.

Several bands and artists have responded to the Palestinian Civil Society 2005 Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a reaction to its occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian refugees their fundamental right to return to their homes, as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Please follow in the steps of the Pixies, Gorillaz Sound System, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Bono/U2, Devandra Banhart, among others, who have refrained from performing in Israel.

When Elvis Costello cancelled two events in Israel, he explained, “One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.”

He cancelled his 30 June and 1 July events mid-May; the criminal activities of the Israeli government since have not diminished. Rather, their criminality has only intensified. We all saw the Israeli attack on the aid workers – the Freedom Flotilla – and the continued blockade against the Palestinians in Gaza. 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.”1 We urge you not to allow your music and talent to be used to whitewash the crimes of this outlaw state.

It comes as an additional grievance to us that you plan to go to Israel after coming to Lebanon. It is not only the Palestinians who have been victimized by Israel. We, in Lebanon, have suffered a great deal. We deeply appreciate your talent, as millions around the world do, but we cannot enjoy it while you ignore the suffering caused by the recurring Israeli aggressions on Lebanon.

Israeli aggressions against Lebanon began in 1948, with the occupation and annexation of 30 Lebanese villages, and have continued quite regularly since then. In 1967, Israel occupied additional Lebanese villages. From 1970 to 1978, Israel repeatedly attacked Lebanese civilians by air, sea, and land. In 1978, the Israeli army invaded South Lebanon, killing more than one thousand civilians. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon further, besieged our capital, and oversaw the murder of thousands of women and children in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps. Israel continued to occupy approximately 20 per cent of Lebanon until 2000. Yet, the aggressions did not end with the liberation of Lebanese lands. In 1996 and in 1999, Israel attacked Lebanese civilians again. And, as you know, in 2006, Israel conducted its most aggressive onslaught against Lebanon. During that war, Israel twice bombed an electrical power plant and thus caused an oil spill of 15,000 tons of fuel, and Israel dropped more than one million cluster bombs in more than 40 towns and villages. Since 2006, many of our famers and children continue to be injured or killed by the Israeli cluster bombs and land mines. And all of us in Lebanon continue to face the regular threat of another Israeli invasion, another Israeli war.

When American indie rocker Devendra Banhart cancelled his performance in Israel, he said, “it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own.” Likewise, your performance in Israel will be seen as a form of badly needed support for its system of repression in the face of increasing international isolation. Please do not allow your music to be used to whitewash repression and apartheid.

Signatures:

Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth
Syrian Social Nationalist Party – Students
The Youth and Student Sector of the People’s Movement (Haraket el-Sha’b)
Aidoun-Center for Refugees Rights
Lebanese Campaign for the Boycott of Zionism (https://boycottzionism.wordpress.com/)
Al-Adab Magazine
Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel

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