We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people. We write in support of musician Hiro Kone, who has been rejected by German performance venue Pracht in the city of Leipzig because of her support for the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS).
The Palestinian call for boycott is a non-violent strategy for liberation from decades of systematic oppression by Israel's occupation. By rejecting Hiro Kone and other conscientious performers over their support for human rights, venues such as Pracht and ://about blank penalize artists for merely expressing solidarity with the oppressed.
Artists worldwide are not spontaneously boycotting Israel, they are responding to a call by Palestinians: an indigenous people of this land living under a government that systematically oppresses them. While venues are of course free to reject artists, rejection based on their support for human rights, equality and justice should be questioned. So we ask, would the venues have rejected an artist for supporting movements such as Black Lives Matter or #MeToo?
Hiro Kone is not the only performer rejected and ejected from venues in Germany in the past few months over support for the rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. Other artists suffered similar McCarthyist action, notably the highly publicised scandal around the Scottish band Young Fathers and the Ruhrtriennale Music Festival. Subsequent to the global media attention, Ruhrtriennale had re-invited Young Fathers and facilitated a panel on the subject of BDS.
As Jews, descendants of Holocaust survivors, we find it especially shameful that German performance spaces that pride themselves on principles of anti-racist activism use the memory of our murdered loved ones to justify both the ongoing systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and the blacklisting of artists that speak against it.
We urge German venues to reevaluate what they consider a stance of neutrality in the face of controversy, to be brave, and to allow artists a space to speak their minds for the promotion of protection of human rights. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within