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Sunday, 6 March 2011

'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven'

Pete Seeger & Roger Waters Declare Support for the Cultural Boycott

There is no doubt that cultural boycott is achieving greater and greater significance and impact, as it did with the boycott of South Africa. Unlike an economic boycott, which can often be circumvented or resisted for years, a cultural boycott can have a very immediate impact on the psyche and self-image of the settlers.

The decision of Pete Seeger and Roger Waters to join the Boycott are very important achievements. Pete Seeger almost personifies the folk music revival in the United States and its association with the civil rights movement. He it was who introduced the anthem ‘we shall overcome.

Seeger and his group, The Weavers, who suffered under McCarthyism from being blacklisted testified with a guitar at a 1955 session of the House of UnAmerican Activities and unlike the others who appeared, refused to take the First Amendment or divulge information on who he knew or who he had contacts with.

Seeger, who had previously been swayed into ‘dialogue’ with the apologists for Israel’s continuing dispossession of its Arab citizens, has now added his voice to the growing clamour to boycott the Israeli Apartheid State.

Roger Waters was an original founder of the seminal 60’s group Pink Floyd and after the departure of the zany Syd Barrett became its principal song writer as well as a vocalist and bass guitarist. Despite appearing in Israel in 2005, before the current call for boycott, he has now signed up to BDS after seeing for himself the new ghetto wall – Israel’s Apartheid Wall which confiscates 12% of the West Bank and symbolises, in all its glory, the hideousness of the Zionist state.

Tony Greenstein

Folk Music Legend Pete Seeger Endorses Boycott of Israel

Monday, 28 February 2011 17:00 Adalah-NY, ICAHD

Folk music legend Pete Seeger has come out in support of the growing Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a program for justice for Palestinians and a route to peace in the Middle East .

Seeger, 92, participated in last November’s online virtual rally “With Earth and Each Other,” sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental organization, and by the Friends of the Arava Institute. The Arava Institute counts among its close partners and major funders the Jewish National Fund, responsible since 1901 for securing land in Palestine for the use of Jews only while dispossessing Palestinians. Although groups in the worldwide BDS movement had requested he quit the event, Seeger felt that he could make a strong statement for peace and justice during the event.

During a January meeting at his Beacon, NY home with representatives from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and Adalah-NY, Pete Seeger explained, “I appeared on that virtual rally because for many years I’ve felt that people should talk with people they disagree with. But it ended up looking like I supported the Jewish National Fund. I misunderstood the leaders of the Arava Institute because I didn't realize to what degree the Jewish National Fund was supporting Arava. Now that I know more, I support the BDS movement as much as I can.”

Jeff Halper, the Coordinator of ICAHD, added, “Pete did extensive research on this. He read historical and current material and spoke to neighbors, friends, and three rabbis before making his decision to support the boycott movement against Israel .” Seeger has for some time given some of the royalties from his famous Bible-based song from the 1960s, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” to ICAHD for their work in rebuilding demolished homes and exposing Israel ’s practice of pushing Palestinians in Israel off their land in favor of development of Jewish villages and cities.

The November virtual rally “With Earth and Each Other” was billed as an apolitical effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to work for the environment. Dave Lippman from Adalah-NY noted, “Arava’s online event obfuscated basic facts about Israel’s occupation and systematic seizure of land and water from Palestinians. Arava’s partner and funder, the JNF, is notorious for planting forests to hide Palestinian villages demolished by Israel in order to seize their land. Arava was revealed as a sterling practitioner of Israeli government efforts to 'Rebrand Israel ' through greenwashing and the arts.”

Currently, the JNF is supporting an Israeli government effort to demolish the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in order to plant trees from the JNF that were paid for by the international evangelical group GOD-TV. The Friends of the Arava Institute’s new board chair has recently published an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post that only cautiously questions some activities of the JNF, an organization whose very raison-d'etre is to take over land for Jews at the expense of the Palestinian Arab population.

Pete Seeger’s long-time colleague Theodore Bikel, an Israeli-American known for his life-long involvement with Israeli culture, recently supported the Israeli artists who have refused to perform in a new concert hall in Ariel, a large illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Seeger joins a growing roster of international performers who have declined to whitewash, greenwash, or in any way enable Israel’s colonial project, including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, Devendra Banhart, and the Pixies.

Former Pink Floyd frontman urges fellow artists to join ban until Israel to ends the occupation, grants full equality to Israeli Arabs, and allows all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Roger Waters, founding member, vocalist and bassist of the iconic rock band 'Pink Floyd' has voiced his support for a cultural boycott of Israel.

The British musician performed in Israel in 2005, ignoring calls from Palestinian rights advocates to cancel. While in Israel, Waters visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem. He was taken to the controversial separation fence in the West Bank, which he called "an appalling edifice to behold."

Waters said he was extremely affected by his tour of the West Bank, scrawling "We don’t need no thought control", lyrics from one of Pink Floyd's most popular songs, on the wall, and cancelling his performance in Tel Aviv. Instead, the British star held the concert in Neve Shalom, a cooperative village founded by Jews and Arabs.

In the letter Waters wrote announcing his support of a cultural boycott of Israel, he said that in his "view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance."

He concluded the letter, saying that he is joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it satisfies three basic human rights he claims are demanded by international law.

He called on Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and dismantle the separation fence, recognize the rights of Arab citizens of Israel and granting them full equality and allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Waters stressed in his letter that he is not anti-Semitic, and his solidarity with the Palestinians stems from his belief that all people deserve basic human rights.

Last week, American folk music legend Pete Seeger officially joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign - an international movement to pressure and sanction Israel through economic means.

Seeger, 92, one of the fathers of American folk music, is a veteran political and peace activist. In the 1950s he was interrogated by the McCarthyist House Unamerican Activities Committee and two years ago performed for U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration concert.

Artists, academics and celebrities throughout the world have supported and participated in the cultural boycotting of Israel.

Earlier this year, French pop star Vanessa Paradis cancelled her concert in Israel only a month before she was supposed to arrive in the country with her partner, Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, leaving fans and pundits speculating as to the reasons for the cancellation.

Although Paradis' agent David Stern claimed that the cancellation was due to professional reasons, insiders who organized the concert claim that the singer acceded to calls to cancel the show made by Palestinian solidarity groups.

According to the same sources, it was apparently the planned visit of Paradis' partner Johnny Depp that drew the attention of the groups that advocate BDS.

From BRICUP [British Committee for the Universities of Palestine] Newsletter 38
March 2011

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