Letter to Arch Enemy from a Fan: Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

 

The following letter was written to Arch Enemy by fan and Palestine solidarity activist Mike Krebs. To join the Facebook group calling on Arch Enemy to cancel its show in Apartheid Israel, visit this page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Arch.Enemy.Resist.Apartheid.Israel

Dear Arch Enemy,

I am writing to you as a fan to ask that you please cancel your scheduled show in Israel for January 24th 2012.

I am a longtime fan of Arch Enemy (as well as Carcass I should mention, Heartwork was one of the first records I bought after getting into death/grind back in the early 90s). I was at your last show in Vancouver, Canada just a couple of months ago in September, and it was seriously the best show I attended all year.

Aside from of course being a fan of your music, I have also always enjoyed the messages in your lyrics, drawing attention to oppression, injustice, religious hypocrisy, and people struggling for their rights. It was very nice to see the Amnesty International table as well, thus providing an avenue for your fans that have been inspired by your music and want to know what they can do to help make the change that this world so badly needs.

I have to say though, given the messaging in your songs and your work supporting Amnesty International, I was saddened to see that you have scheduled a show in Israel. This show is taking place at a time when musicians and artists of conscience all around the world are beginning to heed the call for a cultural boycott of Israel until it complies with international law, a call originally made in 2004 (http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869). This call was further affirmed by a 2005 statement that was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, and was modeled on the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions that targeted the apartheid regime of South Africa. The call can be accessed online at http://www.bdsmovement.net/call.

Since this call was made many musicians and artists of conscience have refused to play in Israel and/or canceled their scheduled performances. This includes, among others:

o The Pixies
o Roger Waters
o Gorillaz
o Carlos Santana
o Annie Lennox
o The Klaxons
o Elvis Costello
o Gil Scott-Heron
o Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
o August Burns Red

There is also a call specifically to metal acts from an Israeli organization called ‘Boycott From Within, which is (as their name suggests) a group of jewish Israelis that supports the boycott call. You can access the statement at http://boycottisrael.info/content/letter-all-metal-bands, I’m also including it at the bottom of this email for your convenience.

The human rights violations that Israel has committed, and continues to commit on a daily basis, are two vast to list here, but it’s worth mentioning at least a few so you are aware of why the call for a boycott was made (many of which have been condemned by Amnesty International over the years):

o The unlawful military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel restricts Palestinian’ freedom of movement and of speech, and their right to an education.  Access to their own property, to health care, to their schools, are blocked.  Leaders and human rights activists are imprisoned without a charge or a trial.  Over 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks divide and strangle the West Bank.  The atrocious “Wall” that Roger Waters has condemned continues to be built, even though it has been declared illegal  by the International Court of Justice at the Hague.  The “Wall” supports the huge network of illegal, exclusively Jewish settlements that separate the West Bank into isolated ghettos.

o Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject to a two-tiered system of segregation within Israel’s borders.  They are denied rights that their Jewish neighbors are guaranteed.  Inequalities are most striking in issues such as education, land ownership, housing, employment, and marriage.  The Israeli system has been compared to former South African apartheid, and to the former “Jim Crow” laws of the American South.

o Palestinians in Gaza are subjected to a criminal and immoral siege that began in 2006.  Over 1.5 million people live in the open-air prison camp that is the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth.  As part of the siege, Israel has prevented many items from reaching Gaza.  Examples of items refused entry include various types of medicines, candles, light bulbs, books, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, and musical instruments.

o In 1948, Israel dispossessed over 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form a nation that was intended to be exclusively for Jews. These refugees and their children have an internationally recognized right to return to their homes and lands, yet Israel continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and in the Negev.  As a result, today Palestinians comprise the largest group of refugees on earth today, at over 6 million. Like all refugees, they still struggle for the right to return to their homes, and leave the squalor and poverty of the refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and especially Gaza.

I am appealing to all of you in Arch Enemy, as a fan and supporter of Palestinian human rights, to ask that you do the right thing and respect the ‘picket line’ put forth by the Palestinians who are asking the world to make a stand in solidarity with the oppression that they have been forced to endure, day in and day out for decades, at the hands of Israel. In this regard I think musicians and other artists have a responsibility to take a stand, and to not contribute to the efforts of the Israeli government and its supporters to normalize its apartheid nature.

I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this, and I urge you to check out the following links if you desire more information about the situation that Palestinians are facing and what can be done about it:

http://palestinagrupperna.se
http://pacbi.org
http://bdsmovement.net
http://www.electronicintifada.org

In Solidarity,

Mike Krebs
Metal fan
Activist with Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver)

>>>

Statement from “Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within”

A letter to All Metal Bands

Dear Metal Bands,

We are a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). We oppose our government’s policies of racism, apartheid and occupation, and we strongly believe that without international pressure, it will be almost impossible to reverse these policies.

Israel’s attempts to mask systematic human-rights abuses and decades-long oppression against the Palestinians, largely rely on its ability to maintain a progressive and democratic image in the eyes of the international community. It often promotes itself as “the only Democracy in the Middle East”. However, Israel’s apartheid policies are inherent even in something as seemingly light-hearted and joyous as a music show: Palestinian fans of your music living in the West Bank, in a land governed by Israel, are under martial-law and will not be permitted to come to Tel Aviv and enjoy your performance.

The Palestinian people are denied some of the most elementary freedoms: the freedom of movement, the freedom to access their stolen agricultural land and the freedom to protest without facing life threatening violence: When they demonstrate against the Israeli government, they face brutal treatment .[1] Their relatives in the Gaza strip (44% of which are children under the age of 14) live under siege restricting the needed amount of food, medical supplies, and materials for construction . [2] In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, kids are abducted from their houses, in violation of international law, and taken to violent police interrogations. [3]

You may have heard that during the past month, tent cities have sprung up all over the State of Israel. Israeli citizens are protesting against their government’s unfair policies: tax benefits to the rich, lack of public housing, underinvestment in infrastructure, privatization of social services and more. However, although there may seem to be a revolutionary uprising in the Israeli public, modeled after the Arab Spring revolutions, one subject is taboo in the tents: there is no public call for the government to change its policies against Palestinians. Under the call for “revolutionary unification” in Israeli society, social justice does not extend to Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation. [4]

The Palestinian call for boycott was placed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations of diaspora refugees, citizens of Israel and Palestinian under occupation and siege. It is not a boycott of individuals, but rather of institutions. Musicians and artists who decided to comply with the call of the oppressed, are responding to an indigenous call from the oppressed people living in the land governed by Israel.

As such, when you come to perform in Israel, you are not only crossing the picket line of a non-violent struggle for human-rights and liberation, you are also actively contributing to the normalization of a situation of quotidian apartheid policies.

In particular, the Pic.Nic festival is produced by Shuki Weiss, who has a special relationship with the Israeli establishment. Mr. Weiss attended Knesset meetings [5] which have led to draconian anti-democratic legislation to outlaw boycotts [6]. Under this law, promoted by Mr. Weiss, advocating for boycott is a criminal offense for Israeli citizens.

You have an opportunity to stand with the oppressed. Please don’t play in apartheid Israel, until it complies with international law, ends its brutal occupation, recognizes full equality for its Palestinian citizens and respects and protects the Palestinian refugee’s right of return to their homes and properties.

Sincerely,

Assaf Kintzer
Dorothy Naor
Edo Medicks
Iris Hefets
Jonathan Pollak
Leiser Peles
Liad Kantorowicz
Neta Golan
Yael Kahn
Ofer Neiman
Oshra Bar
Renen Raz
Ronni Barkan
Leehee Rothschild
Shir Hever
Tal Shapira

[1] Let’s stand with Shireen Al-Araj and the courageous people of
Al-Walaja http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/lets-stand-with-shireen-al-araj-and-the-co...
[2] Guardian reporters experience first-hand Israeli efforts to
intimidate Gaza fishermen and keep their fishing trips ever closer to
shore http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jul/24/gaza-fishermen-israel-...
[3] Child Arrest in Silwan
http://www.btselem.org/video/2011/05/child-arrest-silwan
[4] Tahrir Envy: An Anti-Occupation Activist’s First Thoughts on the
Tent Protests in Israel,
http://pulsemedia.org/2011/08/05/tahrir-envy-an-anti-occupation-activist...
[5] News from Chelm: Knesset discusses ways to pressure performers not
to cancel concerts in Israel,
http://maxblumenthal.com/tag/shuki-weiss/ (more from that meeting at
http://pulsemedia.org/2011/02/14/the-macy-gray-effect/)
[6] European Union expresses concern over Israel’s boycott law
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/european-union-expresses-c...

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