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