[Boycott - Cultural]
Arch Enemy Cancel Your Apartheid Tour
12 December 2011
Reflecting the Amnesty International campaign that Arch Enemy claim to support ('End Repression, Allow Expression')
On 6th December 2011, Palestinian rights activists picketed the O2 Empire in Shepherds Bush, London where the heavy metal band Arch Enemy were preforming. London was the first venue on their European tour which takes them to the Barbie Club in Tel Aviv in Israel on 24th January 2012. There message to Arch Enemy was simple, respect the oppressed Palestinians and their call to boycott Israel, cancel your apartheid tour. A video and photo report of the picket and background to the campaign are given below.
The O2 Empire in Shepherds Bush, London
Long queue, wonderful opportunity for leafleting
Inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, the Palestinians have issued a call for cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel’s occupation and apartheid.. and are appealing to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied and thus contribute to the continuation of injustice.
Israel has always used culture as an arm of their hasrbara (propaganda) campaign, projecting artists who come to Israel as trophies who support their apartheid state. This ia also reflected in the high fees Israel is prepared to pay for those willing to cross the apartheid picket line. Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, the Deputy Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry explains "We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture" (as reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, 21/9/05).
The fans were very receptive to our message
The activists gave out leaflets to Arch Enemy's fans, who seemed keen to enter it to discussions about the situation in Palestine. All the fans we talked to were already extremely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and were surprised and upset that Arch Enemy were selling out their anarchist credentials to perform for apartheid. It should be noted that in Israel 'Anarchists Against the Wall' is the leading Israeli group supporting the popular Palestinian resistance to the Israeli separation wall and despite the recent Israeli anti-boycott law which criminalises any boycott of Israel, they are still actively calling for a boycott of Israel.
The only criticism we encountered from Arch Enemy fans was that we weren't doing enough. Some fans criticised our protest for being too soft, they said this fan base was already with the Palestinians and our banners, rather than beating around the bush, needed to be more direct. It should have read "Arch Enemy dont f*cking go to Tel Aviv!". Other fans suggested we also need to campaign on behalf of other anti-imperialist causes like the Irish who have always shown solidarity with the Palestinians.
A fan suggested a better banner would have been "Arch Enemy dont f*cking go to Tel Aviv!"
Two discussions with four fans - Arch Enemy fans were very glued up on the issues and welcomes a discussion even if it meant missing some of the concert.
Interestingly Arch Enemy has partnered with Amnesty International to promote "End Repression, Allow Expression". Israel practices rampant repression of every aspect of Palestinian life, from denying them their own water by cementing their wells, to the maze of checkpoints Palestinian children have to navigate through just to get to school, with the racism and humiliation that awaits them at each checkpoint. Survivors of the apartheid regime in South Africa have described Israeli apartheid as doing things "that even apartheid South Africa had not done" (Archbishop Desmond Tutu). As for allowing Palestinians to express themselves, the Israeli siege of Gaza even blocks paper and pencils from reaching the Palestinians.
With regards to "allowing expression" it has to be said that Arch Enemy's facebook wall is notorious for censoring any discussion of their apartheid tour, within minutes the posts disappear and people are banned.
from Arch.Enemy.Resist.Apartheid.Israel facebook page
Another disappointment is messages left on BDS facebook pages from 'Arch Angela', presumably Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, in which she disingenuously claims of "threats, bullying and slander":
the leaflets handed out
Arch Enemy's world tour includes venue in Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Portugal and Belgium as well as Israel. It is envisaged that there will be protests at each of these venues. Arch Enemy has a choice to make, uphold their stated principles of opposing repression and stand with the oppressed and boycott Israel or otherwise sell their principles for a monetary profit made from the suffering of the Palestinians, and pay the price for that betrayal, starting by their name forever being linked to apartheid. South African apartheid ended 17 years ago but I still cannot step inside a Barclays Bank because of its association with apartheid all those years ago..
Very impressed by Arch Enemy's fans - not one refused to take a leaflet and afterwards we didn't see any discarded leaflets on the floor.
Great discussions were to be had with the fans
Letter from a fan
Dear Arch Enemy,
I am writing to you as a fan to ask that you please cancel your scheduled show in Israel for January 24th 2012.
I am a longtime fan of Arch Enemy (as well as Carcass I should mention, Heartwork was one of the first records I bought after getting into death/grind back in the early 90s). I was at your last show in Vancouver, Canada just a couple of months ago in September, and it was seriously the best show I attended all year.
Aside from of course being a fan of your music, I have also always enjoyed the messages in your lyrics, drawing attention to oppression, injustice, religious hypocrisy, and people struggling for their rights. It was very nice to see the Amnesty International table as well, thus providing an avenue for your fans that have been inspired by your music and want to know what they can do to help make the change that this world so badly needs.
I have to say though, given the messaging in your songs and your work supporting Amnesty International, I was saddened to see that you have scheduled a show in Israel. This show is taking place at a time when musicians and artists of conscience all around the world are beginning to heed the call for a cultural boycott of Israel until it complies with international law, a call originally made in 2004 (http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869). This call was further affirmed by a 2005 statement that was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, and was modeled on the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions that targeted the apartheid regime of South Africa. The call can be accessed online at http://www.bdsmovement.net/call.
Since this call was made many musicians and artists of conscience have refused to play in Israel and/or canceled their scheduled performances. This includes, among others:
o The Pixies
o Roger Waters
o Carlos Santana
o Annie Lennox
o The Klaxons
o Elvis Costello
o Gil Scott-Heron
o Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
o August Burns Red
There is also a call specifically to metal acts from an Israeli organization called ‘Boycott From Within, which is (as their name suggests) a group of jewish Israelis that supports the boycott call. You can access the statement at http://boycottisrael.info/content/letter-all-metal-bands, I’m also including it at the bottom of this email for your convenience.
The human rights violations that Israel has committed, and continues to commit on a daily basis, are two vast to list here, but it’s worth mentioning at least a few so you are aware of why the call for a boycott was made (many of which have been condemned by Amnesty International over the years):
o The unlawful military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel restricts Palestinian’ freedom of movement and of speech, and their right to an education. Access to their own property, to health care, to their schools, are blocked. Leaders and human rights activists are imprisoned without a charge or a trial. Over 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks divide and strangle the West Bank. The atrocious “Wall” that Roger Waters has condemned continues to be built, even though it has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The “Wall” supports the huge network of illegal, exclusively Jewish settlements that separate the West Bank into isolated ghettos.
o Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject to a two-tiered system of segregation within Israel’s borders. They are denied rights that their Jewish neighbors are guaranteed. Inequalities are most striking in issues such as education, land ownership, housing, employment, and marriage. The Israeli system has been compared to former South African apartheid, and to the former “Jim Crow” laws of the American South.
o Palestinians in Gaza are subjected to a criminal and immoral siege that began in 2006. Over 1.5 million people live in the open-air prison camp that is the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. As part of the siege, Israel has prevented many items from reaching Gaza. Examples of items refused entry include various types of medicines, candles, light bulbs, books, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, and musical instruments.
o In 1948, Israel dispossessed over 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form a nation that was intended to be exclusively for Jews. These refugees and their children have an internationally recognized right to return to their homes and lands, yet Israel continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and in the Negev. As a result, today Palestinians comprise the largest group of refugees on earth today, at over 6 million. Like all refugees, they still struggle for the right to return to their homes, and leave the squalor and poverty of the refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and especially Gaza.
I am appealing to all of you in Arch Enemy, as a fan and supporter of Palestinian human rights, to ask that you do the right thing and respect the ‘picket line’ put forth by the Palestinians who are asking the world to make a stand in solidarity with the oppression that they have been forced to endure, day in and day out for decades, at the hands of Israel. In this regard I think musicians and other artists have a responsibility to take a stand, and to not contribute to the efforts of the Israeli government and its supporters to normalize its apartheid nature.
I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this, and I urge you to check out the following links if you desire more information about the situation that Palestinians are facing and what can be done about it:
Activist with Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver)
Veteran anti-racism campaigner, badges read "No Nazis" and "Nazis No Way"
A letter to All Metal Bands.. from Israeli Citizens
Statement from “Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within”
A letter to All Metal Bands
Dear Metal Bands,
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.
Israel’s attempts to mask systematic human-rights abuses and decades-long oppression against the Palestinians, largely rely on its ability to maintain a progressive and democratic image in the eyes of the international community. It often promotes itself as “the only Democracy in the Middle East”. However, Israel’s apartheid policies are inherent even in something as seemingly light-hearted and joyous as a music show: Palestinian fans of your music living in the West Bank, in a land governed by Israel, are under martial-law and will not be permitted to come to Tel Aviv and enjoy your performance.
The Palestinian people are denied some of the most elementary freedoms: the freedom of movement, the freedom to access their stolen agricultural land and the freedom to protest without facing life threatening violence: When they demonstrate against the Israeli government, they face brutal treatment . Their relatives in the Gaza strip (44% of which are children under the age of 14) live under siege restricting the needed amount of food, medical supplies, and materials for construction .  In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, kids are abducted from their houses, in violation of international law, and taken to violent police interrogations. 
You may have heard that during the past month, tent cities have sprung up all over the State of Israel. Israeli citizens are protesting against their government’s unfair policies: tax benefits to the rich, lack of public housing, underinvestment in infrastructure, privatization of social services and more. However, although there may seem to be a revolutionary uprising in the Israeli public, modeled after the Arab Spring revolutions, one subject is taboo in the tents: there is no public call for the government to change its policies against Palestinians. Under the call for “revolutionary unification” in Israeli society, social justice does not extend to Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation. 
The Palestinian call for boycott was placed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations of diaspora refugees, citizens of Israel and Palestinian under occupation and siege. It is not a boycott of individuals, but rather of institutions. Musicians and artists who decided to comply with the call of the oppressed, are responding to an indigenous call from the oppressed people living in the land governed by Israel.
As such, when you come to perform in Israel, you are not only crossing the picket line of a non-violent struggle for human-rights and liberation, you are also actively contributing to the normalization of a situation of quotidian apartheid policies.
In particular, the Pic.Nic festival is produced by Shuki Weiss, who has a special relationship with the Israeli establishment. Mr. Weiss attended Knesset meetings  which have led to draconian anti-democratic legislation to outlaw boycotts . Under this law, promoted by Mr. Weiss, advocating for boycott is a criminal offense for Israeli citizens.
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.
 Let’s stand with Shireen Al-Araj and the courageous people of
 Guardian reporters experience first-hand Israeli efforts to
intimidate Gaza fishermen and keep their fishing trips ever closer to
 Child Arrest in Silwan
 Tahrir Envy: An Anti-Occupation Activist’s First Thoughts on the
Tent Protests in Israel,
 News from Chelm: Knesset discusses ways to pressure performers not
to cancel concerts in Israel,
http://maxblumenthal.com/tag/shuki-weiss/ (more from that meeting at
 European Union expresses concern over Israel’s boycott law
Cool hoodie read 'free Gaza free Palestine'
Letter from PACBI: Arch Enemy - Stand with Revolution not Apartheid
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 January 24, 2012 . Given that Israel is involved in grave violations of international law and human rights we urge you to cancel this gig until the time comes when Israel is in compliance with its obligations under international law and fully respects Palestinian rights.
We are especially surprised that you would decide to perform for apartheid given your generally anti-fascist persona and progressive reputation. In a recent interview, you claimed that the Arab Spring inspired your new songs, and that “revolution, rebellion and personal freedom” have been central themes in your lyrics . Playing in Israel and singing these new songs would be ironic given that Palestinians have been part of the Arab Spring, being gunned down by the Israeli military as they peacefully protested in the West Bank and Gaza, and at the borders in Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights. The revolutionaries in the Arab world have connected their oppression to the oppression of Palestinians through art, music and political slogans. It would be terribly inconsistent if you were to entertain apartheid while claiming to be inspired by the Arabs' struggle for freedom from oppression. If you care about moral consistency, we ask you to reconsider your performance.
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 . 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  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 . 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." 
Your performance in Israel would constitute a rejection of the appeal from over 170 civil society organizations that comprise the Palestinian BDS movement.
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 .
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 , and led the UN Goldstone Report to declare that Israel had committed war crimes . 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 . Arts and culture play a unique role in this branding campaign , 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. If you still believe that you can perform in Israel while making a statement about oppression, then we can only refer you to a previous statement that we have written outlining the inconsistency of this act . The damage done by your performance by breaking the Palestinian call for BDS would pale in comparison to any brief statement you may make while performing for apartheid.
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 , John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, and Alice Walker .
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. 
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. 
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 . Palestinian civil society is asking this of you as the most essential contribution to their struggle to achieve peace and justice. They are calling for nothing short of revolution, rebellion, and freedom, as echoed in the slogan of the BDS movement for Freedom, Equality and Justice.
Also Of Interest
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