April 23, 2010

Saturday UK Protest: Gil Scott-Heron: Don't Play apartheid Israel!

Protest: Gil Scott-Heron: Don't Play apartheid Israel!

Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Time: 6:15pm - 8:30pm
Location: outside Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London

Meet at 6.15pm outside Royal Festival Hall, London (to protest as people go into the concert that starts at 7.30pm) Bring banners. placards, flags, drums, etc

Gil Scott Heron was part of the United Artists Against Apartheid in the early 80’s. He sang against Apartheid and against artists playing at Sun City (he's the fellow in sunglasses, doing the spoken word part):
Shockingly he has a concert date booked in Tel Aviv on 25th May 2010.

We must get the concert cancelled!

By performing in Israel Gil Scott Heron would violate the almost unanimously endorsed Palestinian civil society call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel – a call is directed particularly towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience.

This links to the concert listing on his website, please write comments asking him not to break the boycott:

(As of right now, there are 18 comments urging Scott-Heron to cancel, only one chap wants him to play.) (Via PACBI)

A rapidly-growing Facebook group, Gil Scott Heron: Please Don't Go to Israel!, now has 1,010 members. PACBI has issued a call: Open Letter to Gil Scott-Heron: Don’t Play Apartheid Israel! EI: Gil Scott-Heron: don't go to the moon.

On Huffpo, April 21, David Love, the executive editor of BlackCommentator.com notes the hubbub:

As an aside, somehow, the legendary African-American poet Gil Scott-Heron is caught in the crosshairs of the Mideast conflict. He was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. And now he is being criticized for his plans to perform in Tel Aviv, which, critics say, would violate the unified call among Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, a call which is "directed particularly towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience."

Whether Gil Scott-Heron is compromising his ideals by performing in Israel is a question that goes far beyond the scope of this commentary...

Read a bit further & Love appears to be hedging his bets. If Scott-Heron is scratching his head over whether the apartheid label is accurate for Israel, he might consider this article, just published by the Palestinian paper Ma'an:

South Africa condemns 'infiltration order'
Published yesterday (updated) 23/04/2010 09:34

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel's Prevention of Infiltration Order 1650 caused the South African government to have "taken note, with the greatest concern," over a policy a statement called a "violation of an individual’s human rights."

Moreover, the statement said, the law is "reminiscent of past laws under apartheid South Africa," and called the situation "unacceptable."

"South Africa, because of its history, is particularly sensitive to the infringement of human rights that the carrying of a permit implies and should this “permit” not be the correct one, the unilateral punishments that can be brought to bear on an individual by the state, without the individual having recourse to an independent court of law," the statement read.

Israel's military order 1650, which went into effect on 13 April, expanded the definition of a 1960s order allowing the deportation of infiltrators. The new order declares all those who do not hold special permission from Israel infiltrators, making them vulnerable to expulsion and deportation.

Palestinians believe the order targets Gaza residents living in the West Bank, and foreign nationals married to Palestinians. While Palestinian officials have said the order will not see the mass expulsion of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, Israel's decision to deport a Tulkarem man to Gaza on Wednesday following the completion of his prison term only served to exacerbate tensions.

In its statement, the government of South Africa said it "adds its voice to a growing international condemnation of Israeli actions against Palestine," and, "in the strongest possible terms calls on Israel to create an environment that is conducive to negotiations and not one that intensifies the mistrusts between Israelis and Palestinians and to honour the commitments it signed up to in the Oslo Peace Accords."

If that's not enough, Scott-Heron should peruse "Why Israel is an apartheid state" by JSF's own Gabriel Ash.

You can contact Scott-Heron here:

Sonya Kolowrat
XL Recordings
304 Hudson Street, 7th
New York, NY 10013
sonyakolowrat AT beggars.com

or via his UK publishers:

I'll leave it with Gil from better days, 1976 to be exact, performing his song "Johannesberg"

Update: here's a video Scott-Heron's posted on his website in January. Starting April 14, when the news of his Tel Aviv gig broke, the next 42 comments, by my rough count, are all pleading with him to respect the boycott and cancel his gig.

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