500 Montreal artists sign letter to support sanctions against Israeli apartheid
Meg Hewings – first published at www.hour.ca
February 25th, 2010 – The world’s superpowers claimed Nelson Mandela was a terrorist before an international boycott and sanctions campaign raised awareness about South Africa’s apartheid state.
This week in Montreal, 500 local artists have signed a declaration in support of the growing international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli state.
The letter decries the Israeli military bombardment of Gaza in early 2009 that left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, including 431 children. “Montreal artists are now joining this international campaign [to] protest the Israeli state’s ongoing denial of the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, [as] well as Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza, which also constitutes a violation of international law and multiple United Nations resolutions,” reads the letter.
Israeli Apartheid Week (March 4-11) started six years ago to raise awareness about Palestinian struggles and focused on a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. It took off from the successful model of South African apartheid boycotts of the 1980s, and has since gained a toehold on campuses and in communities around the world.
“These issues are being ignored in Canada,” says Rebecca Foon, a cello player in Esmerine who signed the letter. She recently wrote the score for H2Oil, a doc about the Alberta tar sands, and regularly plays with Fifths Of Seven and Thee Silver Mount Zion. “I’m Jewish. Within my own family this is a heated argument, but as I see it, this is an issue of equality and justice.
My family has lived in Israel and strongly supported raising awareness and fighting for equal rights and peace for the Palestinian people. You can’t live face to face with Palestinians [without seeing the injustices they suffer].”
International solidarity and pressure is crucial.