May 9, 2019
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine
We are Palestinians representing Gaza cultural centres and musicians and singers from Gazavision and we call for a global boycott of the Eurovision song contest held in Apartheid Israel on 18th May. In the midst of twelve years of Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and decades of military occupation we will host our own Gazavision, a festival of Palestinian songs and music held while surrounded by the most brutal and well-equipped army in the Middle East. Even when Israel bombs us, imprisons our men, women and children, kills and maims thousands of Palestinian protesters on the Great Return March and does everything to silence our voices, we will continue to sing. We ask for people of conscience around the world to heed our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Apartheid Israel just as they did to help bring down Apartheid in South Africa.
To the artists invited to perform in Israel, would you have performed for the white regime in South Africa? Would you have defied the call from blacks in South Africa suffering horrific and violent racism and subjugation, while Nelson Mandela and so many others were caged for years in Robben Island prison? Musicians stood on the right side of history then and were proved right. Ask yourself what your legacy will be if you perform in Israel, when South African Anti-Apartheid heroes like Ronnie Kasrils, Desmond Tutu and even Mzewelivelile Mandla Mandela, the Grandson of Nelson Mandela, have all called for a boycott, describing what they saw in Palestine as in places worse than what they suffered. If you don’t listen to us, screaming from beneath Israel’s bombs and in front of their bullets, will you listen to them?
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 270 Palestinian protesters have been killed and 17,021 injured over the last year, with over 6,000 shot in the legs. These included medics in lab coats, clearly marked press, disabled in wheelchairs and many children. We should not have to go through any more to hope for your solidarity with us. In the last two days alone, Israeli Occupation Forces killed by 27, including 2 toddlers, 2 pregnant women with heir, and 156 wounded. According to Palestinian Ministry of Public Works, 130 residential units were completely destroyed, and 700 others partially damaged due to Israeli airstrikes, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of Palestinian families. One sad incident was the complete destruction of the al Hourani Cultural Centre, which was reduced to rubble.
Most of us in Gaza are refugees, ethnically cleansed by Israel from hundreds of villages and towns. The Eurovision song contest in Israel is set to take place at Tel Aviv Expo centre, built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of al-Shaykh Muwannis, whose inhabitants were either forced out or killed by the nascent Israeli army. Another 530 Palestinian villages were emptied or destroyed for Israel to be created in 1948. We are stranded in Gaza and most of us have never been able to return home.
To hide all this, Israel needs events like Eurovision to beautify its image abroad using its Brand Israel campaign. We ask you to see through the shameless way Israel uses musicians and artists to whitewash its crimes, providing a veil of normalcy to a state that for decades has dispossessed and imprisoned our entire population. We love music and have wonderful artists, but if our musicians have not been killed or injured, we are denied travel to perform and learn music abroad by Israel’s siege. For years musical instruments were one of the items banned from entering Gaza by the blockade, and it can take years to bring large instruments inside. The only grand piano in Gaza narrowly survived a missile attack that blew up its theatre home during Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza in 2014, that left over 2,200 people dead.
Many international musicians have recently heeded our call and can hold their heads high, such as Shakira, Lorde and Lana Del Rey. They join Roger Waters and Pink Floyd, Annie Lennox, Massive Attack, Lauryn Hill, Elvis Costello, U2, Marianah, Vanessa Paradis, Zakir Hussain, Jean Luc Godard, Bjork, Snoop Dogg, Bjork, Faithless, Gorillaz and the late Gil Scott Heron who have all cancelled or declined a performance there. Many more artists have called for a boycott of Eurovision.
We in Gaza will join an alliance of international arts and culture professionals to stage an alternative Globalvision to say “no” to normalization and “yes” to Eurovision values, the right of all refugees to return to their ancestral homeland, and their demand to live free from military dictatorship.
We reiterate the call by so many Palestinian artists and broadcast journalists. We are asking the world to support our basic demands for liberty, to boycott the Eurovision song contest in Israel, and heed our plea for solidarity. When for so long the world has turned its back on us, we are still standing, and we ask you to stand with us.
General Union of Cultural Centres (GUCC)
Abna’ona Association for Development
Al Rowad Society for Youth Development
Al Bayader Theatre Group
Al Manal Association for WomenRural Development
Youth and Environment Association
Palestinian Al Najada Association
Association for Culture, Art and Popular Heritage
Al Sununu Society for Culture and Arts
Basma Institute of culture and arts
Bureij Cultural Forum
Culture Association for Protection Heritage
Dar elShabab for Culture & Development
Al Fordaws Association for Development
Milad Centre for Youth Abilities Development
Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development
Amwaj Association for Social Development and Improvement
Theatre for everybody
The Palestinian Association for Heritage’s Development and Protection
Al Taghreed Association for Culture, Development
Culture, Arts and Heritage Association
Gaza Center for Culture and Arts
Cultural Forum for Youth
Cultural Al Maghazi Center
Cultural and Social Deir Al Balah Center
Al Karama Complex for Culture and Arts
Cultural Unity Association
Tawasul for Youth and Culture
Asalah Commission for Palestinian Popular Heritage
We Are Not Numbers