Letter from Øystein Grønning to Cape Town Opera

Dear sirs/mmes,

I understand you are going to Israel to perform at the Tel Aviv Opera. Please do not.

During the long South African resistance against Apartheid, solidarity workers around the world fought to stop artists and cultural workers to go to South Africa for official work and performances. It is widely held in the world of political science and peace research that the cultural boycot more than the economic one was decisive in forcing the Apartheid regime to stand down.

I was an activist then. For me, and thousands with me, it is hard to beleive that a Cape Town institution like the Opera, of all, really doesn't understand what going to Israel is. For the state of Israel, your visit will be an enormous political victory. The Israeli elite will particularly hail the fact that civic cultural representatives of one of most consistent international critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians will honour them with a visting performance. In the eye of the Israeli public, any such action is immediately seen as a victory against those who oppose the unlawful annaxations and colonizations of Palestinian territory. I know, for I have lived in Jerusalem and Gaza, and spent time there regularly since 1995.

For the Palestinians, your visting performance will be taken down as what it is, namely a direct blow to their struggle for their rights. For the Christian Palestinians, who through their recent Kairos Statement have called on the Christian world to support their struggle and lean away from contacts with the Apartheid state, your visit is a true defeat.

There is only shame in going, nothing else. Please do not.

Yours Respectfully,
Øystein Grønning

Øystein Grønning is a well-known Norwegian designer and specialist in migrant architecture and urbanism.