No Room for Jello!

Jello BiafraAnarchist 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:

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CulturEscapes and the Moral Duty of BDS Today


The neutral Switzerland is about to host a yearly Culturescapes festival. Every year the festival focuses on a different country. This year- the most successful for cultural boycott, yet- it just had to play into Desmond Tutu’s hands and focus on Israel.

A Word about Culture

Culture is a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Israel’s Brand Israel campaign is focusing on PR apartheid; Hiding it’s atrocities as best it can, and highlighting it’s “advantages”:

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 niches were identified in which Israel has a relative advantage… The 6 niches through which it is planned to promote Israel, in the world, are environment (with an emphases on desert agriculture); Science and technology (medicine, internet and hi-tech); Culture and art; Human variety and tradition; lifestyle and leisure culture; Tikun Olam [=Fixing the world] (support of populations of special needs).

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Macy Gray, I Don’t Want a 4 Minute Peace!

Dear Macy Gray,

Macy Gray visits with Consul General of Israel, Jacob Dayan in Los Angeles, as BDS activists around the world plea with her not to entertain apartheid.
Macy Gray visits with Consul General of Israel, Jacob Dayan in Los Angeles, as BDS activists around the world plea with her not to entertain apartheid.

I’ve publicly declared that I won’t give up on you and I intend to keep to my resolution. You keep on asking how not playing in Israel will help the situation. You seem to believe that you are nothing but a 4 minute escape for people (the majority of which, as I explained in my last letter, are soldiers). I believe in each of our endless ability to change the reality around us. But in order to do so, we need to see the reality for what it is. This is what my letters to you are about. This is what the 20 Days to Macy Gray Facebook Project is about. It’s an opportunity for people to empower each other. I hope you’ll allow us to bring back your faith in yourself, that your voice matters, and that you can change this harsh world for the better, for the long run, and not only for the 4 minute duration of a song.

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An Eyewitness’ Letter to Macy Gray

Dear Macy,

Border Police officers arresting Ouday Tamimi. Picture credit: Bilal Tamimi from Joseph Dana's blog
Border Police officers arresting Ouday Tamimi. Picture credit: Bilal Tamimi from Joseph Dana's blog

I’ll say it again, I truly appreciate that you took your contemplations public. I can tell by what you write that you’ve been thrown into a world that its intensity is unknown to you. I write to you consistently because your heart is on your sleeve, and even though you seem to have made up your mind, I feel the doubt in every public utterance you make.

I’ll introduce myself; My name is Tali Shapiro. I’m an Israeli citizen and I just came back from the village of Nabi Salleh in the West Bank and read your latest blog post. I’m an activist that joins the weekly demonstrations in the village. There are weekly demonstrations in many villages. Though it’s a part of a movement for Palestinian human rights, each village wakes to dissent for individual reasons. Nabi Sallah has had its land annexed by the near by Halamish settlement and its water spring closed off from them by military force. Ever since then, they’ve been demonstrating.

Demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories come with a heavy price. Whether its the wounded and dead, or the constant harassment. Nabi Saleh has been subject to military closure, houses sprayed with putrid water (another method of “crowd dispersal”), night raids, arrests of activists (regardless of age), and torture which includes threats, beatings and contorted body positioning.

I write to you as I come back from one of these night raids. I live in Tel Aviv by choice. I choose to come to a war zone at night, to witness exactly what is being done in the name of my security:

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Not Playing Anymore – Israeli Theatre Actors Rise Up

“Ariel’s Center for the Performing Arts – Ariel’s residents have always benefited from a rich variety of local facilities and services. These services have traditionally rendered Ariel the focal point of life in the region, and earned it the title of Capital of the Shomron. The city’s Center for the Performing Arts is yet another addition to life, culture and excellence in the heart of Israel.” (from the Ariel website)

It’s no news by now that Israel is constructing a culture center in the illegal Ariel settlement. It’s not surprising that Habima, Israel’s national theater company, was scheduled to preform there. It is, however, refreshing that actresses and actors from Habima and other leading theater companies, the likes of the Cameri, signed a letter to Culture Minister, Limor Livnat, refusing to preform in the Occupied Territories.

Of Boycotts and Green Bans

Sixty/Thirty-six is a big number for any one sector in Israel, not to mention for any dissent in Israel, at all. I can’t say the actor’s letter doesn’t spark hope in me as to a growth in dissent in Israel (they’ve been joined by non-theatre people of the arts), but one mustn’t get carried away. The Guardian reported:

“Dozens of Israeli actors, playwrights and directors have signed a letter refusing to take part in productions by leading theater companies at a new cultural center in a West Bank settlement, prompting renewed debate over the legitimacy of artistic boycott.”

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USACBI Statement on 1 Year Anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’

December 27, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Israel’s 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5300.  During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities.  It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities. 

While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza’s help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide.

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Supporting the Academic Boycott from Within

The israeli group, BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, have circulated a call to action, asking Israeli citizens to contact officials at the University of Trondheim, and express their support for a decision in favor of an institutional boycott against Israeli universities. The letter sent by the group itself follows.

8/11/09

Boycott the Israeli Academy Now! – Open Letter from Israeli Citizens to the Board of Governors of Trondheim University

Dear Trondheim University Officials,

We, Israeli citizens, activists and supporters of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, an Israeli group in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, applaud faculty members at the University of Trondheim and University College of Sør-Trøndelag in Norway for their principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by proposing a motion to boycott Israeli universities. We support this historic step in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its occupation and apartheid policies, which violate international law and fundamental human rights.

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