February 08, 2010

UK academics write to Elton John: please don't play Israel

From the British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP), Feb. 2010:


Like much of the world, we think you’re a good bloke. You came out when it was difficult; you admitted your addictions were stronger than you were; you’ve poured money into AIDS research. Oh, and then there’s the music – not bad at all.

But we’re struggling to understand why you’re playing in Israel on June 17. You may say you’re not a political person, but does an army dropping white phosphorus on a school building full of children demand a political response? Does walling a million and a half people up in a ghetto and then pounding that ghetto to rubble require a political response from us, or a human one?

We think it needs a human response, and we think that by choosing to play in Tel Aviv you’re denying this. You’re behaving as if playing in Israel is morally neutral – but how can it be? How can the cruelties Israel practises against the Palestinians – fundamentally because the Palestinians are there, on Palestinian land, and Israel wants them to go – be morally neutral?

Okay, you turn up in Ramat Gan, and it gets to that ‘Candle in the Wind’ moment, and thousands of lighters flicker – but there won’t be any Palestinians from the Occupied Territories swaying along with the Israelis – the army won’t let them leave their ghettoes. Please read what Judge Goldstone said about the onslaught on Gaza; what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been saying for decades about the crimes committed against the Palestinians. Of course the Israeli state denies it has a case to answer, though it’s knee-deep in ethnic cleansing and land-theft and the endless daily suffocating of Palestinian lives and hopes.

Political or not political, when you stand up on that stage in Tel Aviv, you line yourself up with a racist state. Do you want to give them the satisfaction? Please don’t go.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Haim Bresheeth
Mike Cushman
Professor Steven Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead

London, February 2010

Please reply to: BRICUP, BM BRICUP, London WC1N 3XX email: bricup[@]bricup.org.uk

If you want to write John your own letter, which I highly encourage, try: Editor [@] eltonjohn.com

That's the editor of the site of Elton's official fan club. Another useful measure would be joining the club, & post BRICUP's letter in the forums, raise conscioussness amongst his fans. Interestingly, a private fan club, http://www.eltonfan.net/, has posted BRICUP's letter on the news section of their site: The editors put in bold themselves, the part where BRICUP says:
"but there won’t be any Palestinians from the Occupied Territories swaying along with the Israelis – the army won’t let them leave their ghettoes."

Another hopeful info nugget: I tweeted BRICUP's letter earlier on mini-JSF, with instructions to click if you want to send a letter. It's gotten 1,272 clicks in 24 hours, a good deal more hits than my average tweet, so I hope lots of concerned citizens are writing Elton, politely, urging him not to entertain apartheid.

Israel bookers have been v. busy this season. But one of their early big catches, Santana, canceled due to ""anti-Israel pressure", or so sayeth Yediot, Feb. 2:
Guitarist Carlos Santana reportedly received messages that "it's better" that he not perform in Israel, according to what a senior official in the Israeli music production market involved in producing Santana's show told Yedioth Ahronoth on Saturday.

In light of the healthy rate of ticket sales, the Israeli production company was considering adding another show, but was surprised to receive news over the weekend from Santana's team that the show would be delayed to an unknown date. According to the artist's official site, he will give a concert in Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, a week before the show planned in Israel.

"Our clarifications revealed that he received messages from anti-Israel figures who pressured him to cancel the performance. Of course, no one there claimed that any connection between these pressures and the show's cancellation, but we are certain there is a very close connection," said the production figure.

Sources in Israel's music industry hope that Santana's cancellation does not create a chain reaction. As published in Yedioth Ahronoth, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Rihanna, and The Pixies are all slated to perform in Israel over the summer.

Here's to chain reactions!

UPDATE: There's now a Facebook page urging John to cancel.