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[Boycott - Cultural]

MF Doom - Dont' Rap For Apartheid

19 November 2011

Outside the Concorde 2 club in Brighton where MF Doom was performing

Some of the earlier comments on Mf Doom's facebook page

On 29th October 2011 the British band Yardbirds were booked to perform at the Barby in Tel Aviv, in apartheid Israel, following a campaign by their fans urging them to respect the cultural boycott of Israel they cancelled their concert [1]. Days later, on 5th November the Moldavian punkers Zdob si Zdub were scheduled to play at the same Tel Aviv venue, the Barby. Again following a vigorous campaign asking them to boycott Israel, the concert was cancelled [2]. Now MF Doom is scheduled to perform in Israel on November 26 and we are campaigning to persuade MF Doom, a rap artist of African descent, to boycott apartheid.

MF Doom's facebook page has already become a battleground. His fans, despite being banned and posts being deleted, swamping the page with requests he side with the oppressed and respect their struggle against apartheid and not cross the picket line they have set. Every performance of MF Dooms's current tour of the UK has seen pickets - 3rd Nov Glasgow, 5th Nov London, 7th Nov Leeds, 10th Nov Oxford, 15th Nov Bristol, and now 18th Nov Brighton.

London, 5th Nov

Leeds, 7th Nov

Bristol, 15th Nov

Flyer used in Bristol, 15th Nov (zoom)

On 18th November MF Doom performed at the Concord 2 in Brighton, this is an account of the picket that greeted him.

The Concorde 2 club is located on the Brighton seafront. The building, originally a Victorian tea room, faces the beach on one side and is embedded into the cliff on the other. Around a dozen activists arrived early and were in place before the night club opened. The picket was organised by the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Talking to the club manager revealed that the club had already been warned by MF Doom's team to expect a demonstration. We explained why we were there, we were not demonstrating against his club and had nothing against MF Doom apart from his decision to entertain apartheid. We talked about the parallels between an artist touring Tel Aviv today and touring Sun City during apartheid South Africa and the manager seemed understanding and took one of our leaflets.

As the fans started arriving it gave us a great opportunity to engage with them about the issues. To our pleasant surprise most were already glued up about Palestine and all were very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. They however were shocked to learn that MF Doom was going to be playing in Tel Aviv. For one ardent fan this revelation was overwhelming, he said he "was embarrassed" that he had bought a ticket to watch a performer who would support apartheid and now didn't feel like going in.

Great opportunity to explain BDS

One young fan said having now understood the issues he felt embarrassed that he had bought a ticket to see someone supporting apartheid

Fan wanting to be photographed with the leaflet

MF Doom's fans all seemed very sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, many taking the time to engage in discussion of the issues and how they can help

One fan did question whether it was right to boycott Israel when there "musts be some Israeli Jews who oppose the apartheid system", we explained that there are Israelis who support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) one prominent group, Boycott From Within just a couple of days ago (16th Nov) held a demonstration in Tel Aviv against Hollywood actors who had broken the boycott call, their banners read "No Culture in Whitewashing Apartheid, Shame On You Hollywood".

Boycott From Within's message to performers coming to Israel:

We are a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). We oppose our government's policies of racism, apartheid and occupation, and we strongly believe that without international pressure, it will be almost impossible to reverse these policies..

You have an opportunity to stand with the oppressed. Please don’t play in apartheid Israel, until it complies with international law, ends its brutal occupation, recognizes full equality for its Palestinian citizens and respects and protects the Palestinian refugee’s right of return to their homes and properties.

src: http://boycottisrael.info/content/letter-all-metal-bands

Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity had printed hundreds of leaflets for the occasion. In large text one side read "MF DOOM Don't Support Apartheid, Dont't Play in Israel" with the other side giving details of the plight of the Palestinians. Without exception every fan took a leaflet, as did many of the staff and passers by.

Every picket needs preparation

Our understanding is that Brighton was the last stop in Mf Doom's UK tour. In a weeks time he is scheduled to perform for apartheid Israel. We as activists, through our protests, have tried to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinians and conveyed their message to MF Doom. His fans, through facebook, have conveyed their message of hurt and betrayal, if he decides to ignore the oppressed Palestinians. The decision is now with you Mf Doom. Remember every decision has consequences. Be on the right side of history and hold your head up high as one who rejected the lure of apartheid money and sided with the oppressed. Below is the original message to you from Palestine, read it again if you are still undecided.




Open Letter to MF Doom: Don't entertain a doomed apartheid regime!

PACBI 11 November 2011

It is with great disappointment that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has learned of your scheduled performance in Israel set for November 26, 2011. Given that Israel is involved in grave violations of international law and human rights we urge you to cancel this show until the time comes when Israel is in compliance with its obligations under international law and fully respects Palestinian rights.

As we will explain below, Israel practices ongoing occupation, colonialism and apartheid over Palestinians. As a prominent artist of African descent, we hope you can relate to the meaning of this racist, multi-tiered system of Israeli oppression, and its devastating impact on our lives and our culture. Refusing to entertain Israeli apartheid is a minimal expression of solidarity with our aspirations for freedom, justice and equality. If you play in Israel, you would be performing for the oppressor while undermining our peaceful struggle for justice.

Many of your fans have expressed their outrage over your coming performance in Tel Aviv. In fact, a local Palestinian contemporary of yours, Boikutt Kutt, has written on your Facebook page: “You're performing 30 minutes from where I live but I can't come to your show simply because I'm Palestinian. I live in a prison called the West Bank and I'm a big supporter of your music. Don't play for the oppressor, don't play for colonialism, don't play Apartheid 'Israel'… Stand on the right side of history and respect the Palestinian call for boycott." We join your fans in urging you to stand up for what is right.

Don’t be Complicit in Entertaining Apartheid

In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel’s occupation and apartheid [1]. We wish, in our letter to you, to stress the importance of this Palestinian call, and underscore the rationale for the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The 2004 Palestinian call appealed to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied [2] and thus contribute to the continuation of injustice. Following this, in 2005, an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing BDS campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality [3]. The BDS movement adopts a nonviolent, morally consistent strategy to hold Israel accountable to the same human rights standards as other nations. It is asking artists to heed the boycott call until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid." [4]

Your performance in Israel would constitute a rejection of the appeal from over 170 civil society organizations that comprise the Palestinian BDS movement.

Boycott Israel

Israel subjects Palestinians to a cruel system of dispossession and racial discrimination

Perhaps you are not familiar enough with Israel’s practices, widely acknowledged as violations of international law. If this is the case, then we hope you will reconsider your planned concert after thinking through some of Israel’s trespasses. Your performance would function as a whitewash of these practices, making it appear as though business with Israel should go on as usual. Concretely, Israel routinely violates Palestinians’ basic human rights in some of the following ways:

1. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under a brutal and unlawful military occupation. Israel restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks strangling the West Bank. All the while, Israel continues to build its illegal wall on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans.

2. Palestinian citizens of Israel face a growing system of Apartheid within Israel's borders, with laws and policies that deny them the rights that their Jewish counterparts enjoy. These laws and policies affect education, land ownership, housing, employment, marriage, and all other aspects of people's daily lives. In many ways this system strikingly resembles Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa.

3. Since 1948, when Israel dispossessed more than 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form an exclusivist Jewish state, Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands. Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev). Today, there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.

4. In Gaza, Palestinians have been subjected to a criminal and immoral siege since 2006. As part of this siege, Israel has prevented not only various types of medicines, candles, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee and chocolate, but also musical instruments from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians incarcerated in the world’s largest open-air prison [5].

Could you possibly perform in such a state with a clear conscience?

Israel uses arts and culture to whitewash its violations of international law and human rights.

In December 2008 and January 2009, Israel waged a war of aggression against Gaza that left 1,400 Palestinians, predominantly civilians, dead [6], and led the UN Goldstone Report to declare that Israel had committed war crimes [7]. In the wake of this assault and to salvage its deteriorating image, Israel has redoubled its effort to “brand” itself as an enlightened liberal democracy [8]. Arts and culture play a unique role in this branding campaign [9], as the presence of internationally acclaimed artists from the West is meant to affirm Israel’s membership in the West’s privileged club of “cultured,” liberal democracies. But it should not be business as usual with a state that routinely violates international law and basic human rights.

Your performance would serve this Israeli campaign to rebrand itself and will be used as a publicity tool by the Israeli government. Hip Hop and rap are political in their true nature, and your own career has shown how this form is a means to fight power and injustice. To allow your art to be manipulated by colonial oppressors would be a grave injustice to this art form and to those whom it claims to represent.

Numerous distinguished cultural figures and public intellectuals have joined the call for BDS.

After the Gaza assault and even more so after the flotilla massacre in May 2010, many international artists, intellectuals, and cultural workers have been rejecting Israel’s cynical use of the arts to whitewash its Apartheid and colonial policies. Among those who have supported the BDS movement are distinguished artists, writers, and anti-racist activists such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu [10], John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, and Alice Walker [11].

World-renowned artists, among them Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless and the Pixies have also cancelled their performances in Israel over its human rights record. Maxi Jazz (Faithless front-man) had this to say as he maintained his principled position not to entertain apartheid,

While human beings are being willfully denied not just their rights but their needs for their children and grandparents and themselves, I feel deeply that I should not be sending even tacit signals that [performing in Israel] is either 'normal' or 'ok'. It's neither and I cannot support it. It grieves me that it has come to this and I pray everyday for human beings to begin caring for each other, firm in the wisdom that we are all we have. [12]

Please say no to performing in Israel.

If you remain unconvinced because of claims that a cultural boycott of Israel may infringe on freedom of expression and cultural exchange, may we recall for you the judicious words of Enuga S. Reddy, director of the United Nations Center against Apartheid, who in 1984 responded to a similar criticism voiced against the cultural boycott of South Africa by saying:

It is rather strange, to say the least, that the South African regime which denies all freedoms... to the African majority... should become a defender of the freedom of artists and sportsmen of the world. We have a list of people who have performed in South Africa because of ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism. They need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime. [13]

Today, Palestinian civil society groups are calling on artists to shun Tel Aviv in the same way that South African activists called on artists to boycott Sun City. All we are asking is for you to refrain from crossing a picket line called by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive-Israelis [14]. Palestinian civil society is asking this of you as the most essential contribution to their struggle to achieve peace and justice.




[1] http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

[2] http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047

[3] http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52

[4] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=868

[5] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7545636.stm

[6] http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGMDE150212009

[7] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=91&LangID=E

[8] http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/05/13/truth_and_advertising

[9] http://mondoweiss.net/2009/03/ny-times-offers-the-rationale-for-the-cultural-boycott-of-israel.html

[10] http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/article675369.ece/Israeli-ties--a-chance-to-do-the-right-thing

[11] http://usacbi.wordpress.com/endorsers/

[12] http://www.wallofsilence.org/news.html

[13] http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/mayjune08/positions.cfm

[14] http://boycottisrael.info/


Young talented artists prepare canvases for the show

Great artwork, but wouldn't MF Doom look better holding a Palestinian flag?

Farewell message - Boycott Israeli Apartheid

Source: www.inminds.co.uk

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