Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boycott of Saltimbanco in Jordan Highlights Palestinian Rights

PHOTO by Fares Khalifeh, Amman
Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco opened on 26 June at the Prince Hamza Arena in Amman, Jordan. The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement activists were there to raise awareness about the unfortunate complicity of Cirque du Soleil in whitewashing the apartheid state of Israel.  
"We protested in front of the CDS venue yesterday. We were 40-50 people and made quite a stir. Some cars turned around and left, probably 6-8 cars in all. One man and his daughter even joined our protest. It was quite amazing! We got a lot of support from passers-by. This said, I know that many people changed their minds about going in the first place" said Majd Muhsen in Amman. 
Signs in both English and Arabic read:

48+67= 1 Palestine 
Cirque du Soleil DON'T CARTWHEEL OVER HUMAN RIGHTS Boycott Resist, 
Palestine is an arab country -Divest -Resist , 
In this week one child age 2 was murdered in Gaza

Cirque du Soleil travels to Doha, Qatar's Aspire Dome from July 4-7.  Qatar Youth Against Normalization wrote to Renée-Claude Ménard of CDS stating:

Doha has a rich history in welcoming and advocating arts and cultural exchange, but the choice by Cirque du Soleil to perform in Israel is tantamount to condoning the policies of an apartheid state. As people of conscience we are writing to ask you to respect the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement wrote to Cirque du Soleil in May:

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral”―Paulo Freire
PHOTO by Fares Khalifeh, Amman  

As Jordanians and as conscientious citizens of the world, we are appalled to learn that Cirque du Soleil is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv this August. We are strong advocates of the arts and of cultural exchange, but the choice of Cirque du Soleil to entertain those who commit crimes of war and against humanity is shameful.
As often neglected by mainstream media, Zionist militias (such as the Haganah) started arriving in Palestine back in 1917. Through land-theft, ethnic cleansing, displacement of native people, terrorizing innocent civilians, and the distortion of natural terrain, what is referred to today as the “State of Israel” was created. At present, this so-called State grew to become more brutal, and continues to rob our land, massacre our people, appropriate our cultural heritage, and commit what is now known as the crime of apartheid. This is not a matter of opinion or perspective; it is an issue of historical events and documented facts.
Since the establishment of this colonial entity and until this day, our people have resorted to various forms of resistance, be it armed or non-violent, organized or popular. For us, to resist is to exist. Boycott strategies are but one form of peaceful resistance that we choose to implement. We believe that artists have a responsibility towards what is righteous, as art should not stand neutral and indifferent towards injustice; this is why more than 500 artists in Montreal alone have decided to boycott. We ask you to join them.
Under what you call the Global Citizenship section of your website, you state that “Ever since Cirque du Soleil had the resources to pursue its dreams and perform around the world, it chose to become involved in communities… Concerned with the future, Cirque du Soleil turned its attention and resources to global issues… Cirque du Soleil wants above all to take its place in society as a good citizen, with all the duties and responsibilities that go with citizenship”.
A “good citizen” does not side with those who commit genocides. Your participation there will help them in promoting themselves as peace lovers; this so-called State has mastered the game of “criminal-record laundry” using the arts and culture, and you will be contributing to that.
We urge you as humans and as artists to take a stand against entertaining those who have and continue to commit various forms of atrocities. This is not a political position that we are asking you to take, but one of justice and human dignity. Take the stand that so many freedom fighters have taken before, cancel your show in Tel Aviv.
Should Cirque du Soleil decide to boycott, we will be your strongest promoters in Jordan and the region, but if you choose to go ahead as planned, then we will be obliged to launch a boycott campaign against the event in Jordan, and we will urge other boycott movements around the world to do the same.
Finally, and despite your decision, we ask that you share this letter amongst members and artists in your group, for it is their right to be aware of what they are taking part in.
The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement
Additional photos of the protest in Amman can be seen on facebook at this link.

Friday, June 22, 2012

University SJPs: Getting it Right with Palestinian Students in Gaza

Now SJPs from all over can connect directly with Palestinian Students in Gaza. 

PSCABI thanks Students Confronting Apartheid @ Colombia U.  
SJPs exist at universities all over the country.  Twitter has long been used by many SJPs, indicating their willingness to connect with international solidarity activists.

What better way for university students to show solidarity and organize than connecting with students in Gaza, who are now seeking to expand their collaboration and participation in events and activities with students at universities around the world.

The collective of students that form the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) can be reached at and on facebook at  They are available to SJPs to share ideas, organize and strategize (via Skype or other technology) in remote events as well as in joint events.  They'd like to hear about SJP activities and provide information and narratives as Palestinian university students for SJPs to distribute.  They can provide access to voices speaking directly from besieged Gaza.  

A few of the many SJPs listed on twitter are here (many others are on facebook), showing the trend towards SJPs reaching out using social media:





As the siege on Gaza continues, many reports out of Gaza indicate that life is becoming more and more unbearable there.  Its a situation where international aid acts as only a loose band-aid over a bleeding wound.  The source of the problem had to be addressed, because the answer is not more aid, it is achieving freedom for the over 1.5 million people who must live in the open-air prison that is "Gaza."  For two years, students in Gaza forming the PSACBI (Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel ) have been writing letters asking for both the cultural and academic boycott of Israel.  Some examples:

For more information see

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Charity Returns Free Tickets to Cirque du Soleil, Honors Boycott

A growing campaign asking Cirque du Soleil to boycott Israel is spanning the globe, from Montreal to Amman to Qatar. Cirque du Soleil’s plans to entertain apartheid Israel have not gone unnoticed in Amman, Jordan, which has a majority population of Palestinians who have been displaced by the zionist state and often live in refugee camps.

The Jordan Times announced in May that Cirque du Soleil would be performing in Amman.  Friends of Jordan Festivals (FJF) approached charity societies, inviting them to buy tickets and provide them to underprivileged children for free, and one organization in Jordan has decided to reject an offer of 30 free tickets to the upcoming show in Amman.  

Dr. Momen Hadidi (Director of the National Center for Forensic Medicine) and  Head of the Jordanian team for Family Protection Project, a society for the protection of victims of domestic violence,  became aware of Cirque du Soleil's intention to entertain apartheid Israel, and the ongoing campaign to ask Cirque du Soleil to cancel their shows in Israel.  The 30 free tickets his organization had been given were then returned.

The Jordan campaign to ask Cirque du Soleil to respect the boycott said:

We thank Dr. Hadidi for this wonderful position on this and we call on all societies and institutions that were given the free tickets to go back and take a clear position against the normalization of apartheid.

Other businesses who do not wish to go public have also returned tickets. Many individuals are also reportedly cancelling their bookings, according to Majd Muhsen in Amman.

To see the PACBI's letter, Cirque Du Soleil: Performing in Tel Aviv is a baroque ode to apartheid, colonialism and oppression
For more information on campaign in Amman, see

Friday, June 15, 2012

Barrington Levy: Boycott Israel, No Place for Racism and Apartheid in our World

22 June 2012 UPDATE:  Barrington Levy has changed his Israel concert date to 28 August.

Dear Barrington Levy,

We have discovered you are scheduled to play in Israel on 22 June.

The fact that there is a cultural boycott of Israel is not something of which all musical artists are aware when they schedule to play Israel.  After becoming aware, many cancel.  (See

We are writing to let you know more about this global movement, and we hope you will decide to be a part of it.

Israel has claimed authority over the lives and land of millions of Palestinian people.  What began in 1948 in Palestine has now escalated into what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others call apartheid.  Racism runs deep in the streets of Tel Aviv,  Africans seeking asylum and living as refugees are filled with fear as Israelis demonstrate on the streets against their presence.  Last May brought fear to Africans in Israel as a series of fire bombings of apartments and a day nursery were set off in an area where African migrants live. Shops run by or serving migrants were smashed up and looted in violent demonstrations in which several Africans were attacked.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated

"We'll start by ejecting the infiltrators from South Sudan...and then move on to other groups."

Israel’s Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai said chillingly:

"The infiltrators [African immigrants] along with the Palestinians will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream…we don't need to import more problems from Africa…[they] think the country doesn't belong to us, the white man".

A heinous series of walls, checkpoints, and sniper towers dot the landscape for millions of Palestinians.  Brutal military might is flaunted daily and children in Gaza are regularly targeted to demonstrate the “effectiveness” of new weapons.  Armed soldiers raid homes, fire into schoolyards, maiming and killing children.

While some liberal “peacenik” Israelis will tell you they want you to play because they will be your audience,  please know that the most effective tool to end the oppression is an unequivocal stand against the injustice by saying no.  Instead listen to the brave Israelis from “Boycott From Within” who have asked many artists to stay away from the failing Zionist state.  (See )

Artists who do play for apartheid are being used to promote Israel as a false democracy.  The Israeli government has an official twitter and uses its position to let the world know which artists lend their name to promote Israel’s false image.  Just three of many examples are Bobby McFerrin, Gun N Roses and Sister Bliss.

Please don’t allow your name to be used to whitewash racism, apartheid, and the horrible illegal annexation wall (pictured here in this recent video).
Join the boycott for justice, equality, freedom and human rights.

Yours truly,

Don't Play Apartheid Israel (DPAI) seeks to inform musicians of the Palestinian call to boycott Israel, and the extent to which their decision to play in the apartheid state will be instrumentalized - against their will - as propaganda for the maintenance of a horrifying status quo in Israel/Palestine: that is a brutal, decades-long occupation, ongoing ethnic cleansing, continual land theft, passing of over 20 racist laws within Israel/'48, and the crackdown on human rights groups. We represent over 900 members from around the globe who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel.  

For more information:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Zakir Hussain Boycotts Israel in Courageous Move to Cancel Gig

Zakir Hussain joins other artists who have cancelled this shows in Israel this year, including tUnEyArDs, Cat Power, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Cassandra Wilson, Fullset and Dervish.  In addition, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, U2, and Coldplay have been invited to play Israel and refused to book this year.  

Zakir Hussain, the world renowned hand drum player from India, who is decidedly one of the world most influential Indian musicians, has cancelled his planned performance in Tel Aviv, Israel.  The 61 year old artist received a letter from over 90 Indian artists who form INCACBI (The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel).  The letter was written on 31 May from New Delhi, India.  

Dear Zakir Hussain,
We, a group of artists, academics and activists in India, came together in June 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (see
We understand that you are scheduled to perform in Israel in July this year. We appeal to you, as an artist of conscience, to cancel your scheduled performance in Israel.
Doing otherwise would inadvertently lend a stamp of approval to Israeli policies of colonialism, apartheid and occupation. Should Israel be admitted into the global cultural arena when it does not respect international law and recognize the Palestinian people s right to freedom, equality and justice? At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel’s colonial and racist policies, we urge you to reflect upon the ethical implications of your accepting an invitation to perform in Israel. Your performance in Israel would help whitewash Israel’s practices, making it appear as though business with Israel should go on as usual.
We are aware that in February 2012, the Palestinian Al Mada Association for Arts Based Community Development, in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and UNICEF, hosted you together with the group Remember Shakti in Ramallah. You played free of charge in the knowledge that the event was a solidarity concert and a fundraising event to develop music therapy programs for Palestinian refugee children.  In addition to your music, this is what we admire you for.  So please don’t let your wonderful music be used to legitimize home demolitions, illegal raids, the use of white phosphorous, political and child imprisonments, racist marriage bans, piracy and execution in international waters, collective punishment, Occupation, checkpoints, roadblocks, and the bombing and closing of educational institutions. If you cancel your performance in Israel, you will also be encouraging other artists to follow your lead. And your fans all over the world will know you stand for justice and an end to apartheid.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tenth Letter to Red Hot Chili Peppers: PUNKS AGAINST APARTHEID

Punks Against Apartheid say to Red Hot Chili Peppers:  Can't Stop Playing for Apartheid?  Yes, you can!


The Red Hot Chili Peppers converge for "Dani California" - from left, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer.

Red Hot Chili Peppers in Pittsburgh

Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers,

We, Punks Against Apartheid, are writing you to urge that you cancel your show in Tel Aviv in September. We do so as artists, activists, musicians, and people who place themselves in the strong anti-racist tradition that formed punk and which keeps it relevant today.
This is a legacy you yourselves should be completely aware of. When you first formed in Los Angeles in the ’80s, it was the experimental, fluid moment that the punk scene was going through at the time that gave you the space you needed to take on a new sound, mixing elements of funk and other styles into your music. This was a scene noted for being uniquely multiracial, the scene that gave rise to Fishbone and Suicidal Tendencies; not to mention Fear, so important to the early formation of hardcore punk, a band that you, Flea, played the bass for! You even had Gang of Four’s Andy Gill produce one of your albums, and DH Peligro–originally of Dead Kennedys fame–ended up replacing Jack Irons on the drums.
So what’s the rub? Well, while some in the mainstream may have forgotten this history–scratching their heads at why a bunch of no-good punks would  bother with a band as commercial as RHCP–we have not, and we intend to remind you and your fans of these roots. Because your proximity to punk as a band should have put you in touch with the best tendencies of rebel music, of music as a form of resistant community–and that is something to be cherished, not to be rejected by playing in Israel. By doing so, you would be, in the words of the Israeli group Boycott from Withinserving “the government’s agenda of whitewashing its war crimes and creating an image of Israel as a “modern state”.
It is for this reason that we were saddened and disappointed to hear of your announced show in Israel. We would have thought that RHCP would be aware of the pressing issues of racism and war in today’s world, something no one–especially punks–could miss. We would have thought that your experience in the scene that catapulted you to fame, a scene known for its strong principles and solidarity with struggles worldwide, would have been aware that Israel’s intention in making such a big deal about your gig is part of a cool, calculating game to cover up its crimes against Palestinians.1
We would have thought that you would have done your homework, and found out that, after their forced removal from the majority of Palestine in 1948, Palestinians have been living under occupation by the Israeli military for over 40 years now. We would have thought that you would have wanted to learn, before playing right into the Israeli state’s hands, that Palestinians live in segregated spaces all across the West Bank and in the open-air prison of the Gaza Strip, and that the apartheid-like laws of the Israeli state make it so that even a Palestinian fan who *wanted* to come to your show would be almost guaranteed to be turned down, as some were very recently on their way to Madonna’s concert in Ramat Gan. We would have expected you to be appalled and disgusted, as artists but more importantly as human beings, by the shallow exploitation of art and entertainment such as yours to somehow justify some of the most despicable acts of inhumanity against a people in resistance for their basic civil rights and for liberation.
Maybe you never had the same political leanings as your fellow punks–but make no mistake, your decision to play is political, just as much as your decision not to play would be. We are asking you to honor the global boycott launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 as a non-violent means to achieve their basic human rights.Refuse to play in Israel, like many other musicians from Roger Waters, to Devendra Banhart, Macy Gray, and Elvis Costello (to name a few), and join a growing movement of artists who, like in the era of South African apartheid, say “I Ain’t Gonna Play!”. It will show whether you wish to stand on the right side of history and refuse to be used to put a “good face” on ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and occupation, or if you wish to be shills for a political circus much larger than any one of us.
It will remain to be seen whether or not the fame and commercialization RHCP has goten over the years has completely wiped out any integrity you ever had, or if there are still punks beneath the flashy lacquer.
We ask you this as fellow punks, from a scene that, rather than being dead, is becoming a threat again! Maybe not on the national scene, but in our small communities we are building–and what is more true to punk’s origins than local, vibrant DIY-scenes, everywhere from Chicago to Indonesia? Take a second to honor these scenes and the grassroots, political resistance they represent and say no to playing in September.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: join us!
No support for criminal occupation, ethnic cleansing, and racial apartheid!
Vive le Palestina! Vive le punk!
Up the punx,
Punks Against Apartheid
  1. Indeed, as BfW has pointed out in the same letter, the production company hosting your performance, Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production LTD., has close ties to the Israeli government and absolutely intends to use your act as a shallow political theater to distract from the oppression of Palestinians. []

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Madonna in Israel: The Censored Video (USA)

This video was blocked in the USA, but viewable in all other countries.  We have uploaded a personal copy here, as this kind of censorship is typical in the USA.
The Amira family peace activists from Ni'lin village try to get to Madonna's "Peace Concert".
They hold the proper concert tickets yet the road is long.  They are determined they try to get through the apartheid wall, through the checkpoints,  and they request assistance from the DCO office, but will they make it?  

(Moments after this video was released, this message appeared on youtube :