MEDIA RELEASE
Call for South Africa's "Cape Town World Music Festival" to #DropIsrael or face boycott

08 November 2012

Two South African organizations, the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective and BDS South Africa, have written an open letter to the organizers of the upcoming Cape Town World Music Festival calling on the Festival to #DropIsrael from its program. The joint letter from the two organizations read:

"We strongly urge the Cape Town World Music Festival organizers to re-think the decision to accept Israeli government sponsorship and collaboration. We call on the Festival to openly reject the Israeli embassy collaboration...we, as South Africans, expected this from the international community in the 1980s and the Palestinians now expect this from us."

The Festival, taking place this weekend (9-10 November), lists the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria as a sponsoring partner. The festival is also scheduled to host the Israeli band, "Boom Pam".

Carrie Schwartz, from BDS South Africa, explains the reason for the joint letter: "The Cape Town World Music Festival is in violation of the international cultural boycott of Israel by having: a) accepted Israeli government support and sponsorship through the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria; and, b) For hosting an Israeli band, Boom Pam, that is willingly being used by the Israeli government “to boost Israel’s image” abroad."

Hagar Graiser, Cape Town World Music Festival organizer, in an email response to BDS South Africa, said:"[W]e are not able to bring artists from all worlds... and to that end...we accepted assistance in whichever way we could.  We realize only now that this has come to light that with our choice of Israeli artists, that we have offended or undermined the cause. The involvement of the [Israeli] embassy has only been in the form of supporting air tickets...which we saw fit to reward with logo placement"

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a cultural boycott of Israel as a way to bring Israel in line with international law. The Palestinian boycott of Israel has been modeled on the successful boycott of Apartheid South Africa. The boycott against Israel also has an increasing number of progressive Israelis who back the campaign. International musicians, artists, and bands who have responded and boycotted Israel in the past include Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, director John Greyson, the Pixies, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gorillaz Sound System, and the Klaxxons.

Failing to drop Israel, SA Artists Against Apartheid and BDS South Africa have called on artists that are scheduled to perform at the Cape Town World Music Festival to withdraw their involvement from the "compromised festival." Members of the public, particularly those that were going to go to the Cape Town Music Festival have been asked to join the call for the Festival to "Drop Israel" and at minimum to boycott the Festival in protest of its Israeli links.

The joint SA Artists Against Apartheid and BDS South Africa letter ends:

"One might wonder what purpose refusing to perform on a platform supported by the Israeli embassy might serve? Or share a stage with an artist that does not condemn and distance themselves from the Israeli occupation and its Apartheid policies? As a people whose parents and grandparents suffered under (and resisted) Apartheid in South Africa, our history is testament to the value and legitimacy that the international boycott had in bringing an end to the Apartheid regime in our country.  When artists and sportspeople began refusing to perform on platforms that Apartheid South Africa was sponsoring, the world’s eyes turned to the injustices that were happening here. When ordinary people boycotted and disrupted platforms that collaborated or hosted sports team and music bands from Apartheid South Africa, the world’s eyes turned to the injustices that were happening here. This then created a wave of pressure, which ultimately contributed to a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa. The same is not only possible for Palestine-Israel, but also inevitable. The question is: On which side of history do you want to be? 
"Performing on a platform sponsored by Apartheid South Africa, or with a band from Apartheid South Africa, during the 1980s was to be on the wrong side of history. Today, performing on a platform sponsored by Israel, or with a band from Israel, is choosing to be on the wrong side of history."


ISSUED BY MUHAMMED DESAI ON BEHALF OF SA ARTISTS AGAINST APARTHEID AND BDS SOUTH AFRICA. FOR COMMENT:
Muhammed Desai, BDS South Africa: +27 (0) 84 211 9988
Carrie Schwartz, BDS South Africa: +27 (0) 73 028 0301
Iain Robinson, SA Artists Against Apartheid: +27 (0) 84 985 9108