Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Call for Elvis Costello to withdraw from Israeli concert date

Dear Elvis Costello,

We were shocked to see from your website that you are planning on performing in Israel this June. The Palestinian people have lived under military occupation for decades. The siege by the Israeli army and the economic blockade have devastated their daily lives so that ‘normal' life is impossible.

You will remember how artists who played at Sun City during South Africa's apartheid era were used by the apartheid regime to justify its policies. But the principled refusal from many artists to perform whilst apartheid existed in South Africa helped bring an end to that injustice. Now, decades later, a similar system of apartheid exists in Palestine.

Israel operates an entrenched system of racial Apartheid against its own non-Jewish inhabitants and has been illegally occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967. It has sought to further annex these lands and has systematically transferred its own civilian population into these occupied territories in contravention of international law. Israel continues to build the illegal Apartheid wall, annexing vast swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank and creating Palestinian ghettos, despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice that it is illegal.

Israel is subjecting 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza to a brutal and inhumane blockade - preventing those needing essential medical help from leaving, and blocking food, medicines and construction materials to rebuild Gaza's shattered infrastructure following Israel's war on Gaza last year. And recently, Israel introduced a new military order, which enables Israel to carry out mass deportations of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, categorising them as ‘infiltrators'.

Desmond Tutu, following his visit to the West Bank, said he was ‘very deeply distressed' and that ‘it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa'. He saw ‘the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about'. Ex-US president Jimmy Carter has added his voice to those calling for an end to Israel's apartheid policies.

We are urging you to support the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it abides by international law and respects Palestinian rights. Please cancel your performance in Tel Aviv. This would send a clear signal that you stand with those struggling against racism and apartheid. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,
Betty Hunter

General Secretary
Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Settlers burn village mosque as Israel-Palestinian 'proximity talks' loom

Talk about proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians via a third-party may begin as early as next week - US envoy George Mitchell is now in the region. But what guarantees has the US given to the Palestinian side on the question of the continued building of settlements? It is extremely unlikely that Israel has given any meaningful guarantees. When is Abbas going to stop crawling on his knees at the beck and call of the US?

A better indication of Israeli intentions on the so-called peace process is unfortunately to be seen in the West Bank village of Luban Al Sharqiya where a mosque was attacked and burned, probably by settlers who have attacked the village on a number of occasions.

In addition, the bad faith of the Israelis is on display through the foreign ministry who say that the recent - overdue - call by the PA to boycott all Israeli goods produced on the occupied West Bank, threatens the talks. Israel is increasingly concerned by the international impact of the boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the settler state.

Police are investigating a fire which seriously damaged a mosque in the West Bank village of Luban Al Sharqiya and which local residents say was an act of arson carried out by Jewish settlers.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera they found the mosque burned at dawn on Tuesday, when they arrived for morning prayers.

They reportedly heard a group of cars approach the mosque around 3am local time.

"The mosque has been completely burned," Majed Daraghmeh, a mosque official, told the Reuters news agency.

"I didn't see the settlers but I am certain that they did it because of their previous attacks on the village." more