Written by Jenna Dreisenstock
Alright, so before I begin with this article: as we all know, the Israel / Palestine conflict is an extremely controversial subject. I feel as though I have to add in this disclaimer regarding this opinion piece – as it is, an opinion piece. I want to approach this with both objectivity and facts – as well as my own personal subjectivity regarding my experience as an anti-zionist Jewish womxn – who stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian people. Regardless of whether one agrees with my subjectivity regarding my personal experiences and views, this article is mainly focused on the objective cultural boycott of Israel: as musicians continue to turn down Israeli festivals and events in solidarity.
Let us begin with our first example – Meteor Festival, an inaugural event that took place last weekend on the 6th – 9th of September. 40% percent of the artists scheduled to play dropped out of the festival in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Artists who were initially recruited to perform at the event spoke out on social media, explaining their reasoning as to why they are boycotting the festival. Artists such as Of Montreal, Shlomo, Leon Vynehall, DJ Python, Mall Grab and Lana Del Rey are amongst many of the artists who explained that they are simply unable to support Israel: with the extreme right-wing policies of Netanyahu and the horrors of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) continuously massacring innocent Palestinian civilians: who have been stripped of their rights by Israeli occupation of Gaza and brutal attacks on the West Bank.
Here are statements released by some of the artists regarding Meteor Festival:
Electronic producer Shlomo stated via Twitter – “I had said no to playing there for years and the only reason I could find to say yes – was if I were to donate my fee to Gaza relief. But after much dialogue I found it to be a more important statement to say no all together, than to donate. I hope you can understand this decision.”
Indie-pop band Of Montreal released a very detailed statement on their Instagram account, which is so succinct and truly respectful to all that I simply could had to include the full statement in this article:
“After deep consideration, we have decided to cancel our appearance at the Meteor Festival. After exhausting all of the different possible ways of justifying playing an Israeli party festival, while the political and military leaders of the country continue their murderous and brutal policies against the Palestinian people, we came to the realization that there is no actual appropriate move other than to cancel the show. Now is not the time for escapism and celebrations. Now is the time for activism and protests against Israeli apartheid, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the human rights atrocities being carried out everyday in Gaza by Israeli forces. We have so much love for the peace loving Israeli people and an equal amount of love for the peace loving Palestinians. This is in no way an indictment of the Israeli people in general. We simply cannot turn a blind eye to this crisis. To ignore the call to stand up in support of an oppressed group of humans is one of the worst things one can do. I want to extend a sincere apology to our Israeli fans for canceling the show. Being a citizen of the USA I understand full well how much it sucks to be treated like a purveyor of evil simply because of where one was born. I hope I didn’t come off too sanctimoniously in this post. We would love to come back to Israel to perform again when the time is right.”
Obviously in turn, there has been both immense backlash and full support regarding these artists decisions. In response, a new cultural boycott campaign has been launched by electronic producers as means of a peaceful protest against the atrocities of these extreme right-wing policies and absolutely horrendous human rights abuse. This campaign, called #DJsForPalestine has received a huge backing from well-known international artists such as Four Tet, Caribou, Ben UFO, Rrose, Laurel Halo, Pariah and many more.
Here are further statements released by the artists who are backing this campaign, posting this image on their social media accounts:Techno DJ Ben UFO released this statement on Instagram:
“my personal history on this issue is that i travelled to play at The Block in Tel Aviv in 2013. i made several friends there, who i’ve stayed in touch with, and who i spoke with about the cultural boycott of Israel after i decided to decline further invitations to play. i wasn’t well informed then, and my experience of travelling there was what gave me the impetus to read and learn more. my feeling since my first visit has been that while Palestinian civil society calls for a boycott, showing solidarity with their cause is worth more to me than travelling to play a show. this has been my position since 2013. having been asked to participate in this campaign, i felt it would be dishonest to continue to say nothing. i’m still really hopeful that one day i’ll be able to play in Israel again. to those who ask why this boycott is selective and only applies to one state, I would say that if a comparable situation existed elsewhere in the world, and a boycott had been called by the affected oppressed class of people, then i would respect that too. for me this is primarily an issue of solidarity, and an exercise in listening. my position on this issue is part of a more general politics of anti-racism, which i hope that i can live up to.”
Experimental Techno Producer Call Super issued this statement on his Instagram as well:
“In the Jerusalem hotel which she ran and lived in, my great aunt Val attempted to employ Jews and Arabs in equal measure. It was a struggle because so many of her Arab staff would be held up and often turned back at the army checkpoints. The treatment of her Arab friends, neighbours and employees was of the utmost concern to her as she watched them become less and less equal in their own city. Their equality in her city was vital to her, and it is vital to me. This year the Israeli government went further than it has ever gone in undermining the equality of Jews and Arabs by passing ‘The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People’. It is the latest step on the dark path which Netanyahu’s governments have taken. My participation is an expression of my solidarity with Jewish and Arab friends who care for peace and equality. I hold them dear. My own non appearing is a means to create a discussion around The Basic Law. We have reached the point where silence makes us complicit.”
“We have reached a point where silence makes us complicit.” will forever be a universal truth. Despite the controversy, despite fans berating and supporting alike: as musicians in the public eye, making such a statement will not halt the actions of the Israeli Defense Force if we are truly realistic – and the severe, extreme right wing politics in their boycotts – however, cultural boycotts have proved extremely effective in the past: like the Israeli apartheid, during the apartheid era in South Africa we saw the true effect of how refusing to support an oppressive regime in all cultural aspects can change perspective, and understanding of the true political situation for those who may not be truly informed or have not engaged in further dialogue.
This is an extremely difficult and upsetting situation that involves many intricacies that we, as the general public, as artists, musicians and supporters may be unable to truly grasp without finding ourselves in the front line – we need to be informed, and understanding of the those living in Israel and Palestine who want to live in peace and harmony as we band together: yet, as Call Super mentioned – In Silence We Remain Complicit. By saying nothing, we are saying something. In a heavily complicated and heartbreaking political climate that continues to escalate to terrifying degrees – I believe that by doing what we are able with the privileges we are afforded, is the least we can do in fighting against abuse and stolen fundamental rights.
In this regard, I would like to speak out regarding my own subjective view as a Jewish womxn. To stress – this statement is my own, my personal view, as Jenna Dreisenstock, and may not reflect the views of others. I am absolutely heartbroken regarding this conflict. I do not practice Judaism, yet it is my ethnicity – my culture that I have grown up with – that has been practiced for centuries by my ancestors. Every single time I see or hear the continued horrors committed by Israel toward the Palestinian people, I cry my eyes out. I am struggling to write this paragraph. I am crying. I truly do not know how to express the pure pain that I feel that Israel is now considered “Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.” I feel sick to my stomach. Israel is not the Nation State of the Jewish People. Not for me. After all we as the Jewish people have been through, after losing 6,000,000 of us in a mass genocide: how could this be happening?
We know what it means to persecuted, exiled, oppressed and murdered throughout the the ages – literally. We know what it means to be rounded up and tortured in the masses, and with the rise of fascists and neo-nazis appearing again in large groups in Europe and America, the Jewish community is terrified. However, if we continue to support the atrocities the right-wing extremists who continue, for years, to oppress and murder innocent people in Israel and Palestine (We know things are going horribly wrong when Netanyahu and Trump are allies – just saying.)
How can we justify our terror of oppression whilst supporting the oppression of others?
It breaks me apart to my very core. It is deplorable that such extreme right-wing policies continue to be enforced. There are extremists in every group of people, and we have to remember that there are Jewish people like myself who refuse to support these atrocities, as well as Palestinian people who too refuse such extremism. Pro-zionists continue to pit the Jewish and Palestinian people against each other, yet many of us stand in solidarity with one another. I will stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people until these atrocities are destroyed, until the right-wing extremists are taken down and we are all able to live in peace together. As much as pro-zionists continue to push the call to boycott and speak out against extremism in Israel as anti-semitic, which it is certainly not (however, there are those who use Israel as a justification for anti-semitic discrimination – that is important to remember.) what is truly anti-semitic is the assumption that the entire Jewish community, after all we have been through ourselves: would all support these kinds of atrocities.
I would like to thank the musicians in the public eye who have spoken out not only recognising the plight of the Palestinian people, but also recognising those in the Jewish | Israeli community who stand with them and call for an end to this right-wing extremism.
In solidarity we all stand. In silence we remain complicit.