Artists for Palestine UK is dismayed that despite the unlawful and calculated* massacre of 21 people (to date) during the march by refugees in trapped inside Gaza only days ago – it appears that the duo that make up British trip-hop outfit Morcheeba, are set to entertain audiences in Tel Aviv next month. As we make our letter to Morcheeba public, we still hope that Skye Edwards and Ross Godfrey will connect with Palestinian artists or organisations, or indeed with ourselves, before proceeding with business-as-usual under this deeply racist and brutal Apartheid regime.
*According to NGOs Human Rights Watch and B’tselem
Dear Skye Edwards and Ross Godfrey,
We are a network of artists who support and promote Palestinian rights. We’ve noticed that you are listed to play in Tel Aviv on May 26th and we’d like to encourage you to reconsider your decision.
Some of us have followed your music since Morcheeba was formed. In ‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’, we heard you singing about freedom – and now we find that you’re playing in Israel, a land where freedom is suppressed. Israel denies Palestinians the right to live where they want to, travel as they please, sell their produce freely. In the occupied West Bank they are often turned back by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints whether travelling to work or for medical treatment. Children are detained by Israel and tried by military courts, and detained in prisons within Israel, making family visits impossible. Facebook users are under surveillance, with a censorship that can lead to arrest.
On your Skye & Ross album of 2016, ‘Head Home’ is a beautiful, enigmatic track with the poignant lines: ‘Let us know your way in the time you reach the border…’ and in the next verse: ‘In the silent night you’ll be drawn to the water / Then to be your guide in the land cruel and conquer’ with the chorus ‘Head Home’. For over five million Palestinian refugees heading home is not an option. This is because Israel, in contradiction to a UN ruling, has refused either to allow them back or compensate them for the houses and land they were forced to abandon in 1948 and 1967.
Your concert, set for May when Palestinians will mark 70 years of dispossession, means a lot to the Israeli government. They use the presence of artists, musicians and writers coming to Israel as a signal to the world, and to the citizens of Israel, that nothing too terrible is taking place there – nothing that would demand urgent attention to Palestinian rights. Willingly or unwillingly, musicians become complicit in obscuring the severity of the human rights violations, the land-grabbing and the settlement-building that are actually happening. For these reasons, Palestinians (including more than 170 civil society organisations) have asked international artists to end ‘business as usual’ with Israel until it dismantles its system of colonisation and apartheid, and ends its violations of international law. And many artists including Brian Eno, Lauren Hill, Robert del Naja, Elvis Costello, Young Fathers, Thurston Moore and David Gray have responded to that call for justice.
We know that you have supported human rights causes in the past, whether singing for Children in Need or on the Band Aid 20 album. We respect your talent and integrity, and because of this we ask you to think again about playing in a country that treats even those Palestinian citizens living within Israel as second-class. Please don’t give comfort to the oppressors. Listen instead to those who are oppressed and stay away, as musicians did from apartheid South Africa, until there is true justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
Artists for Palestine UK