By PSCABI and PYAIA – Gaza
Dear Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway, Shane Embury, Danny Herrera, & Mitch Harris of Napalm Death:
We are Palestinian students and youth based in Gaza, among 1.5 million in a tiny Strip of land the size of Britain’s Isle of white, surrounded and kept captive in a medieval siege by the Israeli Occupation Forces, the fourth most powerful army in the world. Over a million of us in Gaza are United Nations refugees, expelled by the Israeli army to make way for the Israeli state to be built over the ruins of our 531 villages and 10 urban neighborhoods destroyed and emptied, in a process that fits the definition of ethnic cleansing.
Over half of us are children.
We are asking you to understand the Israeli Apartheid Regime’s complete subjugation of our lives and adhere to the 2005 call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations in Palestine to not perform in Apartheid Israel in Tel Aviv this Friday June 17th. Just as you adhered to the wishes of the African National Congress (ANC) during Apartheid South Africa, we hope you will remember us too.
We love music, we have our own big range of music and dance that we love to play. But we have few instruments. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza as the Israeli Apartheid regime decided that we as Palestinians should also be deprived of coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, donkeys, cattle, fishing rods, toys, workbooks and newspapers. Music reminds us of better times when Israeli attacks are killing our loved ones every week. Yet what we have is often drowned out by Israeli-US made F16s, F15s, F35s, surveillance planes, drones, naval gunboats, Merkava tanks and border fire.
When asked in an interview in 2007 about the band name ‘Napalm Death’ Barney Greenway said “we are anti war, and the Napalm is used to make munitions and bombs, you know.”
During Israel’s attacks on Gaza over the winter of 2009 over 1400 people were killed, the vast majority of whom were civilians including hundreds of our children. The United Nations Goldstone report into the attacks declared that the Israeli armed forces had been “systematically reckless” in using the flesh-burning white phosphorous – a modern-day Napalm in built-up areas. Evidence of depleted uranium and other metal toxins were also found and have contributed to a 30% increase in cancers and birth defects in Gaza since the attacks. The already decimated agricultural industries now face enormous land contamination and over 90% of water is not fit to drink.
The Goldstone report listed count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” One of these was a three-day assault which murdered 29 members of the Al-Samouni family, which is more than all of the 13 Israelis killed over the 3 weeks. Israel has violated more United Nations resolutions than any other state, and is in violation of the Geneva Conventions article 33 through its collective punishment of us, mostly children with the misfortune to be born Palestinian under Israeli’s illegal military occupation.
We respect any musicians who apply principles to where they perform and who they perform to, and note you have admirably stood up against fascism and against the apartheid regime of South Africa. You said of South African Apartheid in 2009:
“I’m not going to any places that are associated with that regime, I couldn’t live with myself. Naturally as anyone else sensible would do.”
Such a regime is exactly how anti-Apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils, and former American president Jimmy Carter, have all described Israel’s control and 63 year collective punishment of the Palestinians: Apartheid – a brutal, colonial system based on racial discrimination. Archbishop Tutu has called for all musicians to boycott the Israeli Apartheid Regime and said that a South African Opera group ‘Cape Town Opera’ performing in Israel would be ‘unconsciable’.
On a visit to the Israeli occupied West Bank, where life for Palestinians is made intolerable by racial segregation, gradual ethnic cleansing and over 600 checkpoints, the Archbishop said:
“I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, "Why are our memories so short?"
After the historic success of the boycott campaign that helped to end apartheid South Africa in 1994, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard described Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians as the only remaining case after South Africa, “of a Western-affiliated regime that denies self-determination and human rights to a developing people and that has done so for so long.”
If you perform in Israel, be aware that most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. Yet none of us will ever be able to get close to your music due to the straight jacket we are born into, namely, Israel’s permanent siege that restricts most of us from ever leaving Gaza. And why? Because we are Palestinian, the wrong ‘ethnic group’ for Israel’s expansive plans for the region.
We ask you now to respond to our call from inside the largest open air prison in the world and to not turn your back on us like the other brave musicians such as Massive Attack, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Pete Seeger, Gary Moore, the Gorillaz, Leftfield and Faithless.
You said in 2005, “At the end of the day, the idea is to make people aware…it really goes far beyond politics and into common sense, and the right of a human being to walk this earth without being oppressed.”
We Palestinians here in the Gaza ghetto dearly hope that one day we will have this right and all the rights denied to us that any people would expect. We urge you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against those denying us this right, to stand on the right side of history by cancelling your concert in Tel Aviv this Friday.
-Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
-Palestinian Youth Against Israeli Apartheid (PYAIA).
– To learn more, visit: www.pacbi.org. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com.