The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the South African hip hop performer Iain EWOK Robinson, for his recent decision to cancel his participation in the Hilton Arts Festival. In his letter to the festival organizers, Iain EWOK Robinson noted that “As a signatory of the South African Artists Against Apartheid declaration (www.southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com), in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Apartheid Israeli Government, I cannot in good conscience willingly participate in any event that enjoys the support and patronage of the Israeli Government in any form. I believe that this is an endorsement of the criminal acts of oppression and human rights abuses consistently perpetrated by this entity against the Palestinian people.’ 
Iain EWOK Robinson’s position highlights the fact that taking part in events sponsored by a state that practices occupation, colonization and apartheid, as Israel does, cannot be regarded as a neutral act in the name of freedom of expression or cultural exchange. Regardless of intentions, such acts are a conscious form of complicity that is manipulated by Israel in its efforts to whitewash its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian rights. Participating in events co-organized or sponsored by the Israeli government, in this case the Israeli Embassy in South Africa, sends a message to Palestinians that the world is not interested in human rights, equality and freedom. Iain EWOK Robinson’s decision, thus, reverberates positively among oppressed Palestinians and among conscientious people around the world who are calling for peace based on justice and respect for international law.
We also wish to acknowledge Iain EWOK Robinson’s sentiment when he noted, I feel it is my responsibility as a South African who enjoys the democratic rights that were fought for so valiantly by my parents generation of anti-apartheid activists, to participate in the similar Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Apartheid Israel. Freedom for Palestine is freedom for us all” . This statement captures part of the spirit of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, which calls for boycott against Israel until Israel restores justice to oppressed, dispossessed and ethnically cleansed Palestinians, as happened in South Africa. The three key demands set by the BDS movement include: 1) an end to the occupation of all Palestinian lands; 2) a recognition and promotion of the UN-sanctioned Palestinian right of return; 3) an end to the system of racial discrimination, or apartheid, against Palestinian citizens of Israel.  Until that time in which these conditions are met, Palestinian civil society calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against all complicit Israeli institutions.
Finally, in saluting Iain EWOK Robinson’s decision we extend our thanks to him and others who have engaged in this issue, including the South African Artists Against Apartheid collective, Church Land Program, Media Review Network and the South African BDS Working Group. Iain EWOK Robinson, and others, should know that a world of opportunity and alternative dialogue, based on the BDS principles, is open to them, and that their actions will certainly not be “a rift” with people in Israel and Palestine who seek true justice, equality and freedom. It is a clear, positive message for change, justice and freedom heard by Palestinians, as well as by all conscientious individuals around the world, including in Israel.
17 September 2011