Dear Pete Seeger

August 31st, 2010

Dear Pete Seeger,

As artists and activists, we have long respected your work and commitment to freedom, justice and equality.  Thus, we were surprised to learn that you are scheduled to appear in the Arava Institute’s “With Earth and Each Other” program.

This event actually hinders activism for equal rights and justice, in particular the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.  While billed as a “peace event”, this event would actually perpetuate injustice:

•         First, through partnership with Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organization long complicit in the dispossession of Palestinian land

•         Second, by suggesting false symmetry between “both sides” in Israel’s ongoing colonial oppression of the Palestinian people and its system of apartheid.

This program will directly undermine the work of human rights campaigns, which call for international artists to help end the normalization of Israeli apartheid through a nuanced cultural boycott campaign.  Regardless of venues, “With Earth and Each Other” is a prime candidate for cultural boycott. It is deceptively framed on three levels:

1.    Calling for peace without justice or acknowledgement of the colonial nature of the conflict between the Zionist movement and the indigenous Palestinian people.

2.    Greenwashing the oppressive activities of organizations like the JNF.

3.    Obscuring the fact that while the Arava Institute and the JNF support ecologically appealing forestation activities, these “forests” usually function to obscure ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.

We understand that the struggle against Israeli apartheid is complex, but the call for freedom, justice and equality is not.  We hope you will cancel this problematic appearance. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us to discuss your concerns.

Artists Against Apartheid

[This letter has been sent concurrently with a letter from Jeff Halper, and another drafted by Adalah-NY which was signed by 40 other organizations in solidarity with the BDS Movement]

[Download as printable PDF]

18 Responses to “Dear Pete Seeger”

  1. Dear Pete Seeger « U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel - September 13, 2010

    [...] Dear Pete Seeger August 31st, 2010 [...]

  2. Josh McIntyre - September 13, 2010

    Mr. Seeger,

    Please consider our appeal.

    There is only solidarity.


  3. David Weisberg - September 14, 2010

    Let’s set the record straight about Pete Seeger’s participation in With Earth and Each Other.

  4. Sabina England - September 14, 2010

    Peter Seeger, you are better than this. Please join the AAA in resisting the Israeli apartheid and using our art(s) to speak out against injustice being committed in the name of Israel.

  5. Andrew - September 14, 2010

    Despite Mr. Weissberg’s vapid statement that “Indeed, the large majority of people on all sides of the borders simply want to live in peace.”, he consistently fails to provide context for that lack of peace: Israel’s ongoing dispossession and colonization of historic Palestine (in coordination with the JNF), and its hitherto normalized system of apartheid.

  6. Sandy Broadhurst - September 15, 2010

    Dear Pete Seeger, You have always supported justice, peace and human rights. Don’t let your reputation be tarnished by performing in Israel.
    Join the cultural boycott of Israel and add you powerful name to the fight against the zionist Israeli government’s apartheid.
    Sandy Broadhurst 15.9.10

  7. Sylvia Posadas - September 21, 2010

    Dear Pete

    I am sad that you of all artists, who helped frame and win the struggle for equal rights in the US alongside Martin Luther King would not stand with his and your successors in Palestine.

    Martin Luther King said ‘Among the moral imperatives of our time, we are challenged to work all over the world with unshakable determination to wipe out the last vestiges of racism’ and now here you are, preparing to break solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for civil rights and justice expressed in a non-violent call to boycott the regime which denies them these rights, to break solidarity with those who stand with Palestinian people in their legitimate protest as do I.

    Please reconsider, Pete. I know so well the power of your music is strong, yet already, you are being used by the cold, authoritarian right who do not support justice and freedom for all, as a figurehead and justification to maintain the status quo of occupation, denial of rights and system of apartheid recognised as such by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu over people who have no rights at all.

    Please don’t abandon the Palestinian people’s call and strike a bitter blow at them and folks round the world working in solidarity with them for justice and who are depending on you to hold the banner for civil rights high. You are needed, Pete.

  8. Dear Pete Seeger | US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel - May 10, 2011

    [...] August 31st, 2010 [...]

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