Norwegian pop star Aurora is booked to play Tel Aviv on November 14th and 15th. Palestinian artists, and Israeli artists, have each launched appeals to the singer.
Artists for Palestine UK is pleased to host both letters below.
Palestinian artists to Aurora
It is with great regret we have become aware of your planned performance in Tel Aviv in November. You have quickly become one of the great new names in the international popular music scene, including among Palestinians and other Arabs. Regardless of your intentions, your decision to perform in Tel Aviv will be seen as endorsing Israel’s whitewash of its occupation and denial of human rights to Palestinians.
Israel is intensifying its decades-old regime of oppression against Palestinians, especially its theft of Palestinian land and resources to build more illegal settlements and apartheid walls. UN investigators have concluded that Israeli occupation forces’ intentional targeting of journalists, medics, children and disabled people with sniper fire in Gaza “may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”. Moreover, Israel’s 12-year-old siege of Gaza has reduced it into an “unliveable” territory, according to the UN. Israel’s military occupation counts per-capita calories allowed into Gaza to keep the two million Palestinians there on the verge of starvation.
Given this reality, many celebrities, including Lana del Rey, Lorde and Natalie Portman, have cancelled scheduled events or performances in Israel. As during the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, such expressions of solidarity by artists sends the right message that they will not lend their names to covering up Israel’s oppression and that they stand with the oppressed Palestinians, including artists, who are not allowed to travel freely to share our art and culture.
The people of Norway have been among the most supportive of Palestinian freedom. The LO Trade Unions Congress resolution of 2017 in support of our nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, for instance, was a very important international victory for us Palestinians. It mainstreamed boycott as a tool of Norwegian solidarity with the oppressed. And when more than 150 Norwegian artists endorsed the Palestinian, Israeli and international calls for boycott Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv in May this year, they demonstrated their moral commitment to do no harm to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
You describe yourself as a “down to earth” personality, uncompromising and not to be pushed around by producers and the like. This sounds like somebody who would be inclined to side with the oppressed and downtrodden, as did Lana del Rey and Lorde, rather than siding with the oppressors and perpetrators of war crimes.
You may be approached by a group called “Creative Community for Peace” (CCFP), an Israel lobby group that presents itself as an “independent” entertainment industry organization trying to convince you why crossing the Palestinian nonviolent picket line to perform in Tel Aviv is good for your career and the “right” thing to do. CCFP carefully hides from artists that it is actually a front group for StandWithUs (SWU), a long-established right-wing, anti-Palestinian, pro-Israeli settler lobby group with long-time ties to Israel’s far-right government.
We Palestinian artists appeal to you to stand with the thousands of artists worldwide who refuse to allow their art to art-wash Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid and thus to contribute to our peaceful struggle for freedom and rights.
Shahd Abusalama, dancer
Raed Andoni, filmmaker
Nai Barghouti, singer
Nabil Bey, musician, songwriter
Samir Eskanda, musician
Adnan Joubran, musician, composer
Remi Kanazi, poet
Hannah Khalil, playwright
Ramzi Maqdisi, actor
Ahmed Masoud, author, playwright
Kareem Samara, musician
Israeli artists to Aurora
We are Israeli artists, musicians, filmmakers, and authors, active for a just society here and for a better world. We respect and empathise deeply with your commitment to artistic independence and an artistic voice on pressing global issues. We would like to share our perspective on your planned concert in Israel.
We, as Jewish Israelis who yearn to live in a peaceful, democratic society, recognise that there is no way to achieve that without ending our government’s oppression of millions of Palestinians. A society can’t be considered democratic, if millions have no vote and no say in the regime that rules them. Such is the situation in Israel, where millions of Palestinians are under military siege and occupation.
Playing in Israel at this moment necessarily means making a political statement. On one hand, it would be wonderful to hear your message calling to action around pressing global issues. On the other, this message will be delivered in Tel Aviv, which Israel uses as means of public relations, to distract from its military occupation, apartheid policies, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people.
In Tel-Aviv itself Israel displaces the Palestinians of Jafa, vis-a-vis the Tel-Aviv-Jafa municipality, using economic and legalistic means, evicting families, demolishing homes, and neglecting and defunding whole neighbourhoods, in a process of gentrification that favours Jewish-Israelis over Palestinians.
We, as artists, can’t sit silent as our Palestinian counterparts suffer silencing, dehumanisation and violence, and we ask you to join us in speaking out. Palestinian artists have asked you to cancel your concert, and we strengthen their call.
Meira Asher, sound and radio artist, educator
Avi Hershkovitz, filmmaker
Jonathan Ofir, conductor
David Oppenheim, artist, musician
Timna Perets, filmmaker
Danielle Ravitzki, artist
Ben Ronen, visual artist
Itamar Shapira, musician
Yonatan Shapira, musician
Professor Eyal Sivan, filmmaker, Amsterdam University of the Arts (AhK)
Hamutal Song, author, artist, journalist
Karen Zack, photographer