This is an open letter asking Shakira not to perform in Israel
-Besieged Gaza, Palestine-
We are the imprisoned in Gaza. We are cultural workers, academics, students in the Gaza Strip, limited by Israel to 3 hours of electricity a day, most of us unable to leave, surrounded by Israel’s navy, army and drones and F16s in our skies. We have called for international solidarity, for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Israeli regime that has just murdered over a hundred protesters over the last week here in Gaza, the largest open-air prison in the world.
We address you as a singer and musician of Arab descent, to stand with us and heed our call to not entertain the soldiers out of uniform in a Tel Aviv concert, while we in Gaza continue to be massacred, continue to be shot, standing on our land, demanding our freedom, demanding our right to walk to our own homeland without Israeli bullets meeting us as we protest peacefully.
As we marched last month with our flags, they shot over 500 of us in the head or neck. They used “dumdum” expanding bullets that blew apart our limbs causing 27 amputations. We were standing alone against the most powerful army in the Middle East, who for decades have inflicted on us the longest running military occupation in modern history. Will you now sing for them?
We are not asking for much. We are asking you to say no; no to incessant bombing of our houses, schools, hospitals, mosques; no to the trauma and suffocation of Israel’s 11-year-long medieval siege of Gaza that has been condemned by all main-stream Human Rights organizations as a form of collective punishment; no to Israel’s endless humiliation of our men, women and children trying to get to work or school or family through the hundreds of Israeli checkpoints across the West Bank and Jerusalem, our capital that Donald Trump and America are trying to hand over to Israel, in violation of International Law, while they deny us even the chance to visit and pray there.
We, the Palestinians of Gaza, are facing tyranny every day of our lives.
Would you have sung for the Apartheid regime in South Africa as the oppressed blacks there also called for boycotts of their Tyranny, while Mandela was imprisoned and native South Africans were confined to their prisons in the infamous Bantustans? Bantustans in which we are also now imprisoned? Are you aware of the fact that we will not be allowed to attend your Tel Aviv concert? Would you have agreed to sing for white-only audiences in Sun City?
You are of Lebanese descent. Do you know how Israel treats Arabs who don’t happen to be superstar musicians? How much would they use your performance to improve “brand Israel,” the propaganda that attempts to disguise Israel’s ongoing racist policies of ethnic cleansing because we were born Palestinian? What will it take?
The fact that during the siege Israel denied us musical instruments from entering Gaza? The fact that they murdered 2200 of us in 50 days in 2014 including 500 children? Or 180 of us in a week in 2012? Or 1400 of us in 3 weeks over the new year of 2009? 330 children killed then who could sing and play and dream just like you did as a child?
You sang for the World Cup in South Africa and so you will have been acquainted with the history of their fight against racist oppression and nationalistic bigotry. We believe you know our situation in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. We know that if you don’t perform in Israel it would send a very big message to the world that as the anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu says, “it can no longer be business as usual” with Israel’s Apartheid regime, in the same way, people did not sing in South Africa when he and others were denied their freedom.
You can offer something for the people of Palestine in general, and Palestinians in Gaza in particular, something small they can hope for when they have been massacred, turned out of their homes, villages and communities, bombed, shelled, tortured and imprisoned, denied their history and culture and most recently shot and maimed in their thousands during the last 6 weeks of protests at the Great March of Return.
We hope that you don’t forget us and heed our calls from Gaza and the rest of Palestine to not perform for Apartheid Israel’s brutal regime and to stand with us until we have our freedom.
This letter was signed by:
Great March of Return—Steering Committee
The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
University Teachers’ Association
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
The One Democratic State Group
Voices Against Israeli Apartheid