Apologize for sending more, but this letter below flowed in just as I was to send my message to you.
If by any chance any of you know Pete Seeger, please try to convince him not to participate in the event.
I respect the man very much, but his intention to participate in the “With Earth and Each
Other”: Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East is in error. Am sure that he thinks that it will help bring peace, whereas in truth it is all for the sake of a better image of Israel, as if its leaders really want peace. First justice, my friends. Then peace. Do you see Netanyahu offering the Palestinians justice? No? Neither do I.
An Open Letter from Besieged Gaza to Pete Seeger: Don’t Legitimize Apartheid
Dear Mr. Seeger,
We, the isolated and evidently still forgotten Palestinians from the Gaza Bantustan, are
astonished and upset to learn that someone who in the past has shown solidarity with our millions
who lost their houses to Israeli ethnic cleansing, now plans to join an initiative from a
group that has facilitated these enormous injustices against us.
You plan to perform at the “With Earth and Each Other”: Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,
‘Doublespeak’ for an initiative whose only outcome will be to compound the misery of so many
Palestinian mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who are the direct victims of the
organizations with which you will be involved.
You have worked to ban nuclear weapons, been a tireless civil rights campaigner, an advocate for
environmental responsibility, and a steadfast opponent of South African Apartheid. You used
your music, unique and inspiring, to give hope to those who were worse off than you. It is for this
that we ask you not to turn your back on us, the besieged and grieving Palestinians of the Gaza
Strip, the cantonized and colonized Palestinians of the West Bank and the millions more made
refugees around the world, still violently deprived of their right to return home.
You might be unaware of the harm committed by the very groups you plan to perform for, but as
Palestinians we have to be aware, because it is only by looking at the root causes that we can
see from where originate the decades of injustice and imprisonment.
This ‘Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East’ is backed by the ‘Jewish National Fund’ (JNF), which
more accurately would be called the ‘Expel the Local Palestinian Population to Expand Israel
Fund’. The principal activity of the Jewish National Fund has been the illegal and racist
cleansing of an undesirable ethnic group (i.e. us) from their land.
In the 1948 Nakba, the Jewish National Fund provided political, financial and intelligence
support for the Zionist forces as they massacred and expropriated Palestinian village after
village. They actively participated in the physical destruction of many of the erased 531
Palestinian villages, the ruins of which are still in the hearts and minds of the vast
majority of the Gazan population, most of us registered refugees from these areas. The United
Nations Resolution 194 calling for our right to return does not seem to count when these enormous
crimes that made us refugees were carried out by Israel.
Erasing our heritage and ties to the land continued thereafter. The Jewish National Fund’s
Canada Park, for example, was built over the ruins of the Palestinian villages Imwas, Yalu,
and Beit Nuba, from whence the Israeli army forcibly removed the inhabitants and bulldozed
the houses during the 1967 war.
Today the JNF controls over 2500 sq. km of Palestinian land which it leases to Jews only,
covering vast properties belonging to millions of Palestinians. It has created over 100 parks on
Palestinian land. The Arava Institute, its partner organization involved in the virtual
rally you plan to attend, has said nothing about these atrocious actions and discriminatory
policies. Most recently you will have been informed of its expulsions of entire villages in
the Negev, obscured under the guise of ‘forestation’.
As part of the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
(BDS), and inspired by the boycott of apartheid South Africa, we have asked and been responded to
by international artists like Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Carlos Santana, many
writers, universities and companies to join the BDS movement. Just as the global BDS movement
made way for the collapse of apartheid in South Africa, we demand boycotts of Israel until it
complies Participation in “With Earth and Each Other” occurs in violation of BDS guidelines and
the Palestinian civil society consensus behind them.
Pete, we are writing to you from under the 4 year long brutal and medieval siege imposed on us, a
unique savagery the Israeli academic Ilan Pappé described as, “slow motion genocide”. We lost
over 430 of our children in Israel’s 3 week air and ground attack over the New Year of 2009 that
killed over 1430 of our citizens already living in the world’s largest open-air prison. When
valiant defenders of human rights tried to reach us and break the siege by sea, 9 of them were
According to the Geneva Conventions, United Nations Resolutions and the UN Goldstone report,
all of these acts constitute crimes against humanity, as does the continuous and violent
expelling of Palestinians from their homes and land. Anti-Apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela,
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kassrils have all described Israel’s system of racial
oppression as Apartheid. There was no negotiating with such race-based oppression – there was only
one word, BOYCOTT.
We now urge you to join the countless other artists and musicians making the
biggest statement about the Israeli regime’s brutal and racist policies here in Gaza, the West
Bank and against the Palestinian Israeli citizens. Many times you have taken a stand with
the colonized, the imprisoned and the racially discriminated throughout your long life of noble
and worthy endeavours. Please do not turn your back on us now by agreeing to perform at the
“With Earth and Each Other”: Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East”.
Besieged Gaza,Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP) Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) The Union Os Palestinian Women’s’ Committees Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information General Union of Public Service and Commercial Workers General Union of Health Service Workers General Union of Agriculture Workers General Union of
Food Production Workers General Union of Petrochemical and Gas Workers Progressive Trade
Union Front in Palestine General Union of Municipality and Local Councils Workers General
Union of Tourism Workers Arab Cultural Forum One Democratic State Group (ODSG)
Society Friends for Rehabilitation of Visually Impaired