Announcing ‘Gazavision’, Gaza Artists Call for Boycott of Eurovision 2019

Gaza artists urge Eurovision singers to boycott 2019 Eurovision. (Photo: via MEMO)

Palestinian artists and cultural centers called for a boycott of Eurovision 2019, to be held in Tel Aviv on May 18.

Several Gaza Strip artists and cultural centers signed this call to urge Eurovision participants to boycott an event that Israel needs to “beautify its image abroad”.

Alternatively, the artists will host a “Gazavision”, a “festival of Palestinian songs and music”.

Below is the full text of the letter, which was contributed to The Palestine Chronicle:

We are Palestinians representing Gaza cultural centers 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 the 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 17021 injured over the last year, with over 6000 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 27 Palestinians, including 2 toddlers, 2 pregnant women, and wounded other 156.

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 al Hourani Cultural Centre, were 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 center, 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 narrowly survived a missile attack that blew up its theatre home during Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza in 2014, that left over 2200 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 canceled 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.

Signed by:

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

CIVITAS INSTITUTE

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

Gazavision

WE ARE NOT NUMBERS

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