Czech public figures call on Václav Havel: “Do not use your name to whitewash Israeli war crimes, human rights violations
[ISM Czech Republic] – In response to news about Václav Havel’s support for an international campaign to fight so-called ’delegitimisation’ of Israel and to fight against the worldwide boycott movement against Israel initiated by the former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, ISM Czech Republic and Friends of Palestine Czech Republic issued an open letter signed by a dozen public, political and cultural figures.
Václav Havel, the first democratically elected president of the Czech Republic after the fall of the
Berlin Wall, former Czech dissident and political prisoner, is internationally renowned for his struggle
for freedom, democracy, freedom of speech and human rights, criticizing the abuse of power by the
powerful and writing as a dissident in support of the ‘power of the powerless’, as he entitled one
of his most influential essays of that time. He has received several prestigious awards, including a
nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Czech personalities and public figures such as Petr Uhl (journalist), Jan Kavan (former President of
the UN General Assembly), Milan Daniel (journalist), Milan Kozelka (performer and author), Milan
Kohout (performer and university lecturer) and others joined the appeal:
”The worldwide boycott movement (BDS), opposed by the former Spanish Prime Minister José
María Aznar and his initiative, came out of the unified call of Palestinian civil society and is in a direct
response to the failure of Israeli and world governments to honour their commitments to international
(…) Therefore, we appeal to you in the spirit of your humanism to stand on the side of human rights,
which we believe are indivisible and not to provide the prestige of your name to a regime which will
use it to justify its war crimes and to strengthen its system of apartheid. By supporting the Palestinian
civil society initiative, you will send out a message of hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in
this area and give a voice to a nation which has for several decades been completely silenced.”
You can add your name to the appeal to Václav Havel by signing the open letter here.
The full letter and its signatories follows:
Dear Mr. Havel,
As most citizens of the Czech Republic, we value your achievements in the field of upholding human
rights as well as your tireless fight against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by a foreign army and its
totalitarian and authoritarian regime.
It is for this reason that we were surprised by the news of your support of an initiative which stands
uncritically on the side of Israel, a state which, for over 60 years, has failed to respect international
law and UN resolutions, has illegally occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank (including East
Jerusalem) since 1967, and until today continues to violate the human rights of Palestinians.
The worldwide boycott movement (BDS), opposed by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria
Aznar and his initiative, came out of the unified call of the civil society and is in a direct response
to the failure of Israeli and world governments to honour their commitments to international law.
The boycott movement appeals to people of conscience around the world who feel it their duty not to
stay silent towards evil in the form of war crimes and human rights violations. As such it constitutes
a constructive effort by Palestinian civil society to achieve peace. It has become the only hope of a
nation that is forced to live under a brutal military occupation, in an ever-widening system of apartheid
or in the exile of refugee camps.
Over 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners remain in Israeli jails, unnoticed by the international
community, while Israel continues with the colonization of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the
confiscation of Palestinian land and the brutal suppression of any form of civil protests. It is time that
the international community meet its obligations towards Palestinian civil society and its legitimate fight
When in the past the Palestinians resorted to violence, the whole world condemned their actions and
appealed to them to put down their weapons. Peaceful initiatives, however, have been marginalized
by the world’s political elites and media. Non-violent grassroots resistance has a long tradition in
Palestinian civil society and it has many forms – from regular demonstrations against the illegal
apartheid wall and Israeli colonies, strikes, through non-violent direct action (blocking bulldozers,
setting up protest tents, planting olive trees, etc.) to activities aimed at boycotting Israel and
companies that profit from the occupation.
Given the failure of other legal channels, the call for an international boycott, divestment and sanctions
until Israel complies with international law, proved the most effective and morally consistent form of
solidarity with the Palestinian people in their fight to end Israeli occupation, apartheid and constant
denial of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
As such, it was endorsed by a number of prominent figures and human rights defenders. In addition
to Archbishop Desmond Tutu is was joined by artists, writers and politicians around the world – from
Naomi Klein, Iain Banks, John Berger, Arundhati Roy or Henning Mankell to artists and musicians,
who refused to legitimize Israel’s behaviour by performing in Tel Aviv – The Pixies, Roger Waters, Gil
Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana or Elvis Costello.
Therefore, we appeal to you in the spirit of your humanism to stand on the side of human rights, which
we believe are indivisible, and not to provide the prestige of your name to a regime which will use it
to justify its war crimes and to strengthen the system of apartheid. By supporting the Palestinian civil
society initiative, you will send out a message of hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and give
a voice to a nation, which has, for several decades, been completely silenced. Endorsing the call of
the Palestinian civil society will contribute to the non-violent struggle against oppression and suffering,
and it can reduce violence stemming from the dire situation of millions of Palestinians. Do this for all
residents both of Israel and Palestine, who deserve to live their lives in justice, under the rule of law, in
peace and with dignity.
The open letter is supported by:
Petr Uhl, journalist
Jan Kavan, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former President of the UN General Assembly
Vladimír Laštůvka, the former head of the Foreign Committee of the Czech Parliament
Daniel Solis, analyst, candidate for the Senate
Miroslav Suja, candidate for the Senate
Vojtěch Filip, MP
Milan Daniel, journalist
Milan Kohout, performer and university lecturer
Milan Kozelka, author and performer
Zuzana Uhde, sociologist
Dr. Nidal Saleh, author and journalist
Daniel Veselý, translator and journalist
More info: http://ism-czech.org/?p=353