Letter to Josep Carreras

L’AURDIP est co-signataire de cette lettre
adressée à Josep Carreras.

PACBI | 16/02/2011 |

Dear Mr Carreras,

We were saddened to hear that you will be giving a concert in Israel in March.

You may not be aware of the serious violations of International Law and Human Rights that have been carried out against the Palestinian population by Israel over the last 60-odd years. One of the most recent violations was the brutal attack made on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, during which Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity as detailed in the report that the South African judge Richard Goldstone drew up for the United Nations in 2009.

In 1948-1949 the budding Jewish State implemented a policy of ethnic cleansing that converted more than 750,000 Palestinians into refugees. From then on, the Israeli regime has denied basic rights and freedoms to the whole of the Palestinian population, whether resident in Israel, in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 or in other countries as refugees. Since then the indigenous population of Palestine –made up of Christian, Druze and Moslem Arabs– has suffered occupation, colonisation of their lands and apartheid measures. Since 2002, the Jewish State has been building a separation Wall in the occupied territories (East Jerusalem and the West Bank). This was declared illegal on 9 July 2004 in a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Another of the tragedies affecting the Palestinian people is the economic blockade imposed by Israel on the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, especially since 2007. The NGO Amnesty International has declared on innumerable occasions that the blockade on Gaza is illegal and that it has « pushed its population into unemployment, poverty and dependency on aid agencies for survival ». According to a study published in 2010 by various international NGOs 80% of the population of Gaza depends on international aid and 61% suffers from food insecurity. According to the same report at least 33 sick people have died since 2009 on being denied the permits needed for receiving medical treatment in Israel by the occupying authorities. It is estimated that since the start of the blockade hundreds of sick people have died in Gaza while waiting for a permit that never arrived. As someone who has suffered and recovered from a serious illness like leukaemia, you know better than anyone that receiving medical treatment in time can make the difference between life and death; Israel denies the sick men and women of Gaza access to such medical treatment.

After the criminal offensive against Gaza in 2008-2009 and the attack on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, in which 9 Turkish citizens were assassinated by the Israeli army in international waters, Israel has redoubled its efforts to present itself to the world as a liberal and open democracy. Art, sport and culture play a key role in this image campaign. The real cultural ambassadors of the Jewish State –be they the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Maccabi Tel Aviv sports club– cannot be thought of as « innocent » entities separate from what they represent; they sustain the apartheid regime just as much as the army does. In the same way artists and musicians who are « invited » to perform in Israel –as could be your case in March– help to « normalise » relations with the offending state.

In 2004, inspired by the cultural boycott of South Africa during the apartheid regime, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called for a boycott on all the institutions that participate in and sustain the Israeli apartheid regime. We would like to stress the importance of this call, made by Palestinian artists, musicians and academics, and to underline the increasingly favourable response it is obtaining in the world of culture at an international level, especially from musicians and film-makers. The boycott campaign is supported by universities, institutions, churches, writers, artists and musicians from countries all over the world, including Israel.

In 1985, a group of musicians including Steve Van Zand, Ruben Blades, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr, Gil Scott Heron and Miles Davis refused to perform at the Sun City festival in South Africa because to do so would have meant endorsing the South African apartheid regime and its institutionalised form of racism. Similarly, in recent years various internationally well-known personalities have expressed their support for the boycott on Israel. They include Roger Waters, Desmond Tutu, John Berger, Ken Loach, Eduardo Galeano, Ilan Pappe, Antoni Muntadas, John Greyson, Cornelia Parker, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Jean-Luc Godard and Brian Eno.

The following artists have recently cancelled their performances in Israel: Devendra Banhart, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott Heron, the Pixies, Vanessa Paradis and La Carrau. In February 2011, the German baritone and bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff also announced the cancellation of his tour round Israel, after being asked to join the boycott by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists.

The Academic and Cultural Boycott is an effective way of putting pressure on Israel and has a real chance of obtaining a change in the policies that contravene International Law; this was made clear in the case of South Africa. Israel clearly needs political legitimacy and moral recognition and the world of culture should not satisfy this need.

For all of the reasons given in this letter we urge you to cancel your concert in Israel. As an outstanding and respected international figure in the world of music you can contribute to obtaining freedom, justice and a just peace in Palestine.

Please, do not go to Israel.

Best regards,

This letter is endorsed by the following groups:

Grup pel BDS – Catalonia

Aturem la Guerra – Catalonia

Comunitat Palestina de Catalunya – Catalonia

Amb Palestina al Cor – Catalonia

Xarxa d’enllaç amb Palestina – Catalonia

Comissió Universitària Catalana per Palestina (CUNCAP) – Catalonia

BDS – Madrid

RESCOP (Red Solidaria Contra la Ocupación de Palestina) – Spain

Rumbo a Gaza – Spain

Berlin Academic Boycott (BAB) – Germany

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP) – France

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) – Ireland

European Platform for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (EPACBI) – Europe

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) – Palestine

BOYCOTT! – Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (BFW) – Israel

U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) – United States of America

Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)-India

You can find more information about the International BDS movement for Palestine at:

www.pacbi.org and www.bdsmovement.net