OPEN LETTER TO DERVISH
Dear members of Dervish (Kathy Jordan, Brian McDonagh, Liam Kelly, Tom Morrow, Shane Mitchell and Michael Holmes):
Many lovers of Irish music have been deeply shocked and disappointed to learn of your plan to tour Israel next June, despite the 2006 Palestinian call for an international cultural and academic boycott of the Israeli state until it abides by international law.
On this tour you will be joined by the Irish band FullSet, which boasts that it has “already shared a stage with some of the hottest names in Celtic music, such as Moya Brennan, Lúnasa…, Andy Irvine and Dónal Lunny.”
This is deeply ironic, because Irvine and Lunny – together with Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Damien Dempsey, Ronan Browne, Jimmy McCarthy, and many other giants of Irish music (and over 200 other creative and performing artists) – have signed a pledge “not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel… until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
This means that if you perform in Israel you will be betraying both the Palestinian people and many of your most respected colleagues. You will be manipulated by the state of Israel to whitewash the utter criminality of its occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands.
In 2005 an Israeli spokesman asserted that “We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” [Ha’aretz, September 2005]
Here are some examples (among many) of the way that Israel represses the expression and dissemination of Palestinian culture:
* In 2002, Israel prevented the Palestinian poets Zakaria Mohammed and Ghassan Zaqtan from travelling to Ireland to read their work.
* In May 2010, the Israeli authorities deported Spain’s most famous clown, Ivan Prado, who was planning to establish a clown festival in Ramallah.
* In summer 2011, Israeli commandos assaulted the Freedom Theatre in occupied Jenin, arresting several of its members.
* Also last year, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suspended Israel’s financial contribution to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation which oversees the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. This was to “punish” the majority of the world’s states for having voted to admit Palestine to the UN agency. This constitutes an Israeli cultural boycott of most of the world. For the same reason, Israel larcenously suspended tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
If you cancel your trip to Israel, thus incidentally saving the members of FullSet from the infamy of breaching the Palestinian cultural boycott so early in their career, you will have joined the likes of Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson, and Carlos Santana who, having at first agreed to perform in that country, decided that it was of greater importance to support the just struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli oppression.
The governments of the EU see Israel as “a strategic partner” and offer it generous trading and diplomatic privileges. When governments refuse to take human rights violations seriously, then it is up to civil society to act. Please be on the side of justice: please cancel your tour of Israel!
Cultural Liaison Officer
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign