ISRAELI CITIZENS CALLING ON THE CAPE TOWN OPERA:
Please do not Perform Porgy and Bess in Apartheid Israel!

“It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice…we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”
- Nelson Mandela, Pretoria, 4th December, 1997.


24 October 2010


Dear singers, musicians and other members of the Cape Town Opera,

As Israeli citizens who are active against our government's apartheid policies, we find it distressing that the Cape Town Opera has agreed to perform at the Tel-Aviv Opera House starting 12 November 2010.

The Tel-Aviv Opera House is state sponsored, and serves Israel’s “We are a Civilized Democracy” propaganda narrative. This institution is complicit in Israel's policy of colonization and apartheid. Therefore, we are asking you to postpone your performances to a future time when Israel no longer practices these policies.

Palestinians are denied the right to enjoy equal educational and cultural opportunities by Israel through its military checkpoints, its over 700km Apartheid Wall and discriminatory laws. A Palestinian opera fan living in the Israeli occupied West Bank village of Bil'in will not be allowed to go to Tel-Aviv (30 minutes away) and come to your performance. Her neighbours in the illegal settlement of Modi'in Eilit, built on her stolen property, will be able to travel freely to your performance as privileged members of your audience.

Your upcoming performances in Israel are all the more distressing because of your recent South African history. The similarity between the suffering and humiliation which South Africans went through and those of Palestinians under Israeli apartheid is all too stark to ignore.

Palestinians stood with South Africans during the struggle against South African apartheid. We ask you to join us in the Palestinian struggle (which we, as Israeli citizens, support) against Israeli Apartheid.

Porgy and Bess is a work of art that conveys a universal message against oppression and apartheid. To appear on stage with Gershwin's humanistic and universal theatre production in a state that is becoming more and more intolerant, expansionist and racist in its acts – that seems inconceivable to us!

Globally musicians, writers, academics, filmmakers and others, have already answered the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel (and just this week British director Mike Leigh has cancelled a visit to Israel for exactly these reasons). It is unconscionable that the Cape Town Opera will choose to become complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians.

Palestinians increasingly rely on international law and solidarity. Israel, with the fourth largest army in the world, has violated international law and numerous global conventions. International jurists, including respected South Africans such as Justices John Dugard and Richard Goldstone, consider Israel to have committed war crimes. Furthermore, a comprehensive and meticulous report, officially commissioned by your own government to its statutory research agency (the Human Sciences Research Council), found Israel guilty of the crime of apartheid.

Please join the momentum around the world, particularly among artists and musicians, who are heeding the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel call. Please reconsider your decision to perform in Tel Aviv at this time. Don't be on the wrong side of history.

We, as Israeli peace activists, implore you to support our common struggle with Palestinians for peace and equality in our region. Please, join us, as many others have already done, and help put an end to Israel's apartheid policies.

Sincerely
Liad Kantorowicz
Haggai Matar
Dr. Anat Matar
Ofer Neiman
Itai Ryb
Tal Shapira
On behalf of Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian call for boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) from within - http://boycottisrael.info/