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600 artists from Run The Jewels to Sonic Youth sign letter demanding justice for Palestine

“As musicians, we cannot be silent” says statement

Over 600 recording artists from around the world have penned an open letter demanding justice for Palestine, entitled #MusiciansForPalestine.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Patti Smith, Rage Against The Machine, Roger Waters, Serj Tankian, Talib Kweli, Thurston Moore, Tim Hecker and Run The Jewels are known to be among the acts to have signed the letter. In addition, several of the artists are part of the Palestinian diaspora.

The letter reads, “we speak together and demand justice, dignity and the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and all who are fighting colonial dispossession and violence across the planet.”

“We call for you to join us with your name in refusing to perform at Israel’s complicit cultural institutions, and by standing firm in your support of the Palestinian people and their human right to sovereignty and freedom. We believe this is crucial to one day live in a world without segregation and apartheid.”

The letter was penned after a period from May 10th until May 22nd’s ceasefire announcement, in which Israeli forces killed at least 243 Palestinians and left more than 1900 wounded. Twelve people in Israel were also killed by Palestinian armed groups.

The letter was welcomed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). The Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, the largest coalition in Palestinian society, wrote in response: 

“Thank you, #MusiciansforPalestine! Your meaningful solidarity reminds Palestinians that after the ceasefire, our struggle for liberation, freedom, justice and equality will not be forgotten. This week alone, thousands of artists have endorsed peaceful measures to hold Israel to account under international law, in support of Palestinian human rights. We salute the artists, cultural workers and arts institutions who recognise their ethical obligation to do no harm to our nonviolent struggle against Israel’s colonial rule, by ending links of complicity. Let Israel’s latest massacre be the last! It’s time to #CeaseApartheid. Dismantling apartheid is #InOurHands!”

The BDS committee was founded in 2005 and has three aims: to end Israel’s military occupation; to establish equality for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; and to establish the right to return for Palestinian refugees.

Iraqi-Canadian multi-media artist NARCY stated his support of the letter: “It’s crucial that we amplify this cause and stand for Palestinian rights at this critical juncture. The bombing of besieged Gaza, and the imminent risk of ethnic cleansing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem brought the dispossession Palestinians have faced over the past 73 years to the world’s attention.”

“If you don’t know, now you know. In recent weeks we have seen videos of the Israeli military storming the third holiest Muslim site in the world during the holy month of Ramadan. We have seen gangs of settlers and anti-Arab Israelis chanting “Death to Arabs” in the streets while they looted Palestinian businesses, we have seen a man lynched on live Israeli TV. This has shown the world a microcosm of the Israeli occupation. This letter makes it clear that, as musicians, we must not be silent, we must take a stand against apartheid.”

Signatories Rage Against the Machine added: “The violence and atrocities we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah, the Al Aqsa compound and Gaza are a continuation of decades of Israel’s brutal apartheid and violent occupation of Palestine. We stand with the Palestinian people as they resist this colonial terror in all its forms.”

#MusiciansForPalestine joins other letters of support for Palestine released this week across the arts, including #VisualArtsforPalestine, as well as the Letter Against Apartheid. 

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