As a BDS activist, whose main focus is cultural boycott, I’ve come up against a very common Israeli claim (individuals, small business, and government officials) that “culture has nothing to do with politics”. Most commonly it comes in the form of a puzzled “rhetorical” question: “What does culture have to do with politics?!” As if asking this question closes the discussion, because it’s so obvious that art, music, books, films, theater and dance are a pure form of entertainment that has no intellectual, political, anthropological value. As if cultural products aren’t bought and sold as commodities and status indicators.
Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production Ltd. in the Service of the State of Israel
You book some tour, receive some award, get an event invitation. “They love me! They really love me!” you think. Or maybe “Woah, cool! I always wanted to go to Murmansk!” All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you start getting letters from Arizona: “Dude, we’re trying to have a picket line here, you’re seriously treading on our turf! Boycott racism!” Panicked, you call your agent: “But I just wanted to make music!” Your agent, being payed to be in contact with the corporeal world tells you how it is: “We’ll have to loose some revenue, but let’s donate this concert’s proceeds to these people’s organizations!”, better yet “let’s buy activists off with free tickets!” Without much debate, you happily pack your bags and head off in your private airplane to the Congo. After all, what do you know about politics?
2 a: a sudden, radical, or complete change b: a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed c: activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm <the Copernican revolution> e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution> <the foreign car revolution>
Almost a year ago a wave of massive popular protests began within the state of Israel. Though my initial criticisms still stands, I’d like to add that over the past year, at least in the south of Tel Aviv, there’s a constant learning about egalitarian politics, co-ops and community projects. People are changing and that can’t be a bad thing. Still, on the Palestinian liberation front there’s little change. The protests have remained Jewish-centered and protesters are still hostile to the mere mention of Arabs (Palestinians are people from another country, of course).
It’s me again. After 11 letters from all around the world, a petition with over 6400 signatories that just keeps growing, and a couple groups on Facebook [1,2], it seems like you’re determined to go through the motions of a performance in apartheid Israel. Sure enough, after a long silence from you, we’re seeing the standard Shuki Weiss promotional video, reassuring fans that past cancellations won’t repeat, and that the world still in fact loves Israel. I can reiterate what was written in other letters and statements, but I much rather just respond to one thing you said in the video, which burns with irony: “We love playing for people. Children, middle aged, and old people. So come one come all.”
I’ve been a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan since I was 14 years old. The prospect of a live show in Israel has always been slim-to-non. I saved up some serious cash for their last slated show, way back when, needless to say I was heartbroken when they cancelled. Over a decade later things are quite different. It seems ridiculous to me that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would even consider crossing the picket line of the global Palestinian liberation movement, that’s been forming since the last time they cancelled. One thing remains the same though : It’s very hard to reach a band of their stature. I want to make sure that no artist can say they didn’t know. Not about the atrocities of the apartheid state and its brutal occupation, and not about the movement to boycott, divest and sanction it. Below is the letter I’ve sent the band via snail mail.
Anarchist and punker Jello Biafra and his band, The Guantanamo School of Medicine, are coming to perform in Israel. I’m not going to get into how is it that an anarchist tries to get elected for president of the American empire, I’ll just focus on the issue at hand.
Ironically enough, about a week before Jello made a really bad public statement (we’ll get to that in a moment), PACBI issued a clear cut statement to address all kinds of excuses that we’ve been hearing since the inception of the movement, seven years ago: