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Sep-13-2010 01:47printcomments

Folk Music Legend Pete Seeger Urged to Abandon Israel Event

Both Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello have agreed not to play in Israel in response to human rights violations.

Pete Seeger -
Pete Seeger -

(LAGUNA BEACH) - There is a supreme test taking place each year for western entertainers. What do you do when asked to perform in Israel? Many in the US and the UK live in a fog where they overlook the realities of what their tax dollars support when they fly overseas to Israel.

Others know it is these two governments that are most responsible for the way it went; Israel could have been founded and developed under more peaceful conditions and co existence is possible, but that was not the chosen path.

Arabs were killed and driven from villages and homes and it always begs the historic question, what role did the Palestinians play in the Holocaust?

Those with a minimal comprehension of 20th Century history can still offer the simple answer: "They didn't have anything to do with it".

Because the people who began losing their land to literal government thievery and who live under the unflinching fish of state terrorism, know it is unacceptable to fund any government that treats people this way.

Palestinians are attacked by Israeli police and military forces for holding peace protests on occupied land every Friday.

Now folk music icon Pete Seeger is being urged by over 40 organizations, along with musicians close to him, to cancel his participation in a November internet event organized by the Israeli groups the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and others.

The IMEC reports that in a letter made public Sunday, Adalah-NY and over 40 other organizations called on Pete Seeger to “join the growing list of artists who have respected the Palestinian boycott call.”

According to the International Mideast Media Center:

The organizations called on Seeger to support the Palestinian-led movement for a cultural boycott of Israel, modeled on the artists’ boycott that helped end Apartheid in South Africa.

The event, “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,” is presented as a support effort for Arava, which claims to carry out environmental projects in the Negev desert in Israel. Arava has said and done nothing about the destruction – four times – of the Bedouin village Al-Araqib in the Negev by Israeli forces this summer to make way for a forest to be planted by the Jewish National Fund.

The destruction of Al-Araqib is part of a larger Israeli government strategy of dislocating Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel, to facilitate the expansion of communities for Israeli Jews.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a major partner in the event, promotes Jewish land ownership and settlement on land from which Palestinians have been displaced, according to reports by human rights groups like Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Human Rights Watch.

In another public letter to Seeger, Israeli activist Jeff Halper, chair of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), an organization to which Seeger has been a donor for over ten years, wrote:

“I hope that you will decide to join these artists of conscience and once again make a bold stand for justice. The movement is gathering strength, the violators of civilized norms are fearful, and change is in the air.”

The letter from Adalah-NY and other groups pointed out that:

“The JNF, a partner organization in ‘With Earth and Each Other,’ has been engaged in the ‘Judaization’ of Palestine for more than 100 years. After the 1948 expulsion of two thirds of the Palestinian people from their lands, the JNF planted fast-growing non-native trees on the ruins of Palestinian villages in a deliberate attempt to prevent refugees from returning to their land.”

Jeff Halper’s letter noted that one of the JNF’s most recent activities has been “the planting of a forest to cover a Bedouin village in the Negev from which the residents have been forcibly removed.”

He added that “Efforts to paint Israel as environmentally concerned are mere greenwashing. Israel has repeatedly torn down Palestinian neighborhoods by declaring them green zones.”

Artists Against Apartheid, a New York-based group, also sent Seeger a letter condemning the upcoming program as one that will “directly undermine the work of human rights campaigns, which call for international artists to help end the normalization of Israeli apartheid through a cultural boycott campaign.”

New York based Artists Against Apartheid, also sent Seeger a letter condemning the upcoming program as one that will:

“Directly undermine the work of human rights campaigns, which call for international artists to help end the normalization of Israeli apartheid through a cultural boycott campaign.”

In the last year, artists including Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, the Pixies, and Gil Scott-Heron have cancelled planned performances in Israel. Israeli performers have been met with demonstrations and cancellations in trips abroad. In the last month, Israeli actors have refused to perform in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and have been supported by American actors.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), in a call for increased international solidarity, appealed to all artists “not to cross our boycott picket line, which is the simplest, most effective, non-violent form of solidarity with the Palestinian people in its struggle for justice and lasting peace.”

The video posted below will give you an idea what Seeger has to look forward to if he doesn't take the high road on this very serious issue. Elton John performed in Israel just after a private performance for Rush Limbaugh. It seems like some don't have their heart in the right place. Seeger is a classic folk singer, it would be sad to have him remembered as a person who musically supports Israel's apartheid laws that generate endless pain and suffering for native Palestinians. YouTube pulled its accessibility in the USA but Vimeo has it. If it goes away we will republish it on our server. Give it up Israel and Elton John, everyone knows...

HEY ELTON from John Greyson on Vimeo.

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Anton November 7, 2010 2:23 am (Pacific time)

The boycott campaign is hypocritical in the extreme. Israel, with its faults, is still a democratic country trying to resolve its differences with the arabs while protecting its own sovereignty and safety. There are so many countries with far worse human rights records that are ignored by Israel bashers. Your demonization of Israel is based on lies, half truths and plain hatred.

Editor: You are full of it Anton, nobody hates anything except the abuse Israel reserves for people in the Occupied territories.  Israel has a habit of murdering innocent children and shooting unarmed peace activists in international waters.  Israel has a serious history of thievery.  

David September 14, 2010 10:53 am (Pacific time)

Let's get the record straight about Pete Seeger's participation in "With Earth and Each Other" -

Vic September 14, 2010 7:28 am (Pacific time)

ANY artist who ignores the boycott and negates the actions of the others who stood up for justice ahould be villified and rejected. I dont care what their past record is. I certainly cannot imagine Seeger even agreeing to the schedule. Maybe he is a paper tiger..a real humanitarian as long as it does not interfere with his income/cash flow. I know nothing about him...

gp September 13, 2010 4:10 pm (Pacific time)

While I usually would immediately jump on the band wagon with this one, I know Pete Seeger and his history of work for peace and justice. I think that given the incredible span of his activism in this area stemming from his days with the Weavers and Woody Gutherie,that Pete might be able to bring something good to Israel and Palestine from his visit which would more than offset his failure to go along with the boycott. Believe me, Pete is on the right side on this and whatever he does is fine with me.

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