Israel, Tuba Skinny and Injustice: Open Letter

Israel, Tuba Skinny and Injustice: Open Letter

Tubaskinny
8/14/11
Jazz festivals take place every summer all over the world, and New Orleans jazz bands are in high demand.  Jazz music is loved the world over, so why would it be considered inhumane to play at a Jazz festival?
In the case of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, music takes on a very political role, because of the well-known global BDS movement.  The PACBI, (Palestinian Call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) has, since 2005, asked musicians to refrain from playing in Israel, and their call, representing Palestinian Civil Society, has become a global movement.
Thus, when a band, like Tuba Skinny, agrees to play in Israel, and break the picket line, it becomes very political.  Tuba Skinny members, Erika Lewis, Todd Burdick, Kiowa Wells, Shaye Cohn, Barnabus Jones and Robin Rupuzzi, should cancel their planned concert for Sunday, August 21, 2011 at the “88FM” Club in Eilat, Israel.  Their brief performance at 8 pm, though financially lucrative for the band, can never be worth their effort if they have to stand on the side of injustice and oppression in order to play.
Other musicians have made very clear stands on the side of human rights, and one of the most notable is Roger Waters, founder of the UK Pink Floyd sensation.
The PACBI asks all artists, including Tuba Skinny, to refrain from playing in Israel.
Dear Tuba Skinny members, Erika Lewis, Todd Burdick, Kiowa Wells, Shaye Cohn, Barnabus Jones and Robin Rupuzzi,
 The Palestinian arts community is deeply saddened, when artists such as yourself agree to perform in Israel.  We strongly urge you to cancel your plans to perform in Israel until the time comes when Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories and respects the relevant precepts of international law concerning Palestinian rights to freedom, self-determination and equality.

How can Tuba Skinny’s band members  be apathetic to the monstrosity of Israel’s current war crimes in Gaza, its Apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, or its continued violation of fundamental Palestinian rights? Just as conscientious artists the world over boycotted South African apartheid in the past we expect and urge Tuba Skinny to boycott Israel’s own system of colonization and racial discrimination, compared to apartheid by former US President Jimmy Carter, as well as many leading figures in South Africa, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and current minister, Ronnie Kasrils.

Do Your Duty” and do not come to Israel. Help promote “peace in the valley,” and dedicate your cancellation to all the mothers who lost their children; 24 Palestinian children were killed in April 2008 alone by the Israeli occupation army; 34 were killed in the Gaza Strip in March in what the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Villnai threatened to become a “bigger Holocaust.” And 327 Palestinian children are still in prison. So far, more than 180 terminally ill people and premature babies have died within four months in Gaza as a result of the heinous, medieval siege imposed by the country you are planning to visit.  In December 2008 and January 2009 Israel waged a deadly war against the besieged people of occupied Gaza.  Almost all of the 1,400 deaths were of civilians, and hundreds of children were left dead.  This led to the United Nation’s “Goldstone Report” in which it was declared that Israel had committed war-crimes.  

It is also worth reminding you that Palestinian musicians in the occupied Palestinian territory, like all Palestinians under Israeli occupation, are denied their basic rights, including the “privilege” of freedom of expression which you — and all of us — so highly value. They are often denied their right to travel, sometimes even within the Occupied Palestinian Territory; many are denied access to festivals; and some are imprisoned, injured or killed by the occupation forces. Try to find out, for instance, how many Palestinian jazz fans, particularly those in besieged Gaza, will be allowed to attend your concert? By performing at the Red Sea Jazz festival you are helping to perpetuate this unjust form of apartheid that denies Palestinians their basic rights.Palestinian civil society has almost unanimously called upon international civil society to engage in acts and campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes the fundamental human rights of the people of Palestine. The Church of England, the US Presbyterian Church, a group of top British architects, major unions in Britain, South Africa, Ireland and Canada, among many other groups and institutions in the West, have all heeded the Palestinian distress call and considered applying effective pressure on Israel to promote peace and justice in our troubled land.

We sincerely hope that you shall cancel your announced performance in Israel.

~The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) Community Worldwide
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