In recent weeks, BDS Australia and its supporters, particularly in the Australian Greens and the ALP, have been the subject of concerted attacks in the pages of the Murdoch press and the Australian Jewish community media.
#BDS is an international grassroots campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005. In the face of the repeated failure of official negotiations to secure peace, the boycott movement emerged as a large-scale, civil-society response to Israel’s ongoing, murderous and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and the egregious war crimes and violations of human-rights and international law that accompany it.
Since March last year, as UN figures show, the Israeli military has killed no fewer than 271 Gazans and wounded around 30 000 others, mostly during peaceful protests. In that light, the claim that Israel is committed to peace demonstrates a cynical contempt for the truth.
Israel is an apartheid state. It is not a democracy, nor a model of anti-racism, religious tolerance, democratic freedom or indigenous rights, as its supporters ludicrously claim. The accuracy of apartheid as a characterisation of Israel’s practices towards Palestinians has often been confirmed internationally, including by experts in international law. Already in 2013, writing in The European Journal of International Law, John Dugard and John Phelan concluded that ‘Israeli practices in the occupied territory are not only reminiscent of – and, in some cases, worse than – apartheid as it existed in South Africa, but are in breach of the legal prohibition of apartheid.’ A 2017 report for the UN by Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, who will visit Australia in July, and Professor Virginia Tilley, also concluded that ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.’
People of conscience cannot remain silent while Israel pursues the ruination of Palestinian lives, the confinement of nearly two million people in the open prison of Gaza, the engulfing and de facto annexation of much of the West Bank by illegal settlements, the denial of dispossessed refugees’ right to return to their homes, and the treatment of its own Palestinian citizens as second-class citizens, now constitutionally ratified by last year’s Nation-State law.
Boycotts are a well-established international mechanism of political pressure. BDS aims to end apartheid in Palestine-Israel and secure a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike through pressure on those responsible for and complicit with Israeli apartheid, just like the boycott of South Africa did. Far from manifesting racism against Jewish people, as our opponents claim, BDS is an anti-racist campaign, unreservedly opposed to hatred and discrimination in all its forms, and embraced by, among others, many Jews in Israel and elsewhere. The conflation of BDS with anti-semitism is a deliberate tactic used by the Israeli state to slander BDS supporters and to maliciously misrepresent the movement and its aims.
The Greens are to be congratulated on the support they have expressed for Palestinian rights. They have not yet, however, gone far enough. The Greens, along with the ALP and indeed all political parties, must fully embrace Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS.
In its refusal to take a principled and long-needed stand against Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people, Australia has positioned itself as a particularly blinkered and irrational obstacle to peace in the Middle East. BDS Australia urges all Australians committed to peace and justice in the world, and the political parties that represent them, to adopt BDS as a matter of urgency.
Prominent Australians join Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Australia’s calls for a boycott of this weekend’s SBS broadcast of Eurovision in Israel
Palestinians have asked international viewers not to watch the event this year while the Israeli state continues to commit war crimes, break international law and deny Palestinians equal human rights.
Australia’s entrant, Kate Miller-Heidke has ignored sustained calls from throughout Australia and from rock legend, Roger Waters not to perform and ‘artwash’ human rights abuses by Israel.
Prominent Australians have made the following statements in support of the boycott:
Mary Kostakidis, the former face of SBS News: “The daily brutality and dispossession faced by Palestinian people shames us all. While the world’s performers come together to compete in a celebration of song and dance we know that the brutality will continue. I applaud those who have refused to take part. Just as sanctions and the courage of people all over the world to stand up for justice brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, more & more of us must demand an end to this cruelty, respect for the rights of Palestinian people and peace with justice. This year, Eurovision is asking us to be blind. We are not blind and we cannot be complicit.”
Colin Friels, renowned actor: ”Given the siege of Gaza and the slaughter of Palestinians, the televising of the Eurovision Song Contest must not be allowed to ‘artwash’ Israeli brutalities. I strongly support the boycott of this event and urge others to do the same.”
L-FRESH The LION, hip-hop artist and 2018 SBS Eurovision judge: “I stand with the people of Palestine. As an artist and musician, I don’t see how Eurovision can achieve its goal of bringing the world together through music by having its 2019 competition in Israel, while Israel continues to violently occupy Palestine. In respecting Palestinian’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel, I encourage my peers to do the same. We all have a part to play. We cannot remain silent or be complicit in the suffering of Palestinian people.”
Comedian and broadcaster Tom Ballard: “As a former employee and as someone who likes important, diverse television, I love SBS. As a homosexual, I am required by law to love Eurovision. Both of these things are true. But I’m also compelled to love human rights. I’m compelled to join the call from Palestine to boycott Eurovision this year, to call for an end to the persecution and apartheid of Palestinians and to demand justice from the international community. Thank you for giving a shit and thank you for doing the right thing.”
Writer, actor and multidisciplinary artist Candy Bowers: “Palestinian artists and musicians are asking for our solidarity, recognising our own relative privilege, to join the boycott of Israel until they win justice and equality. Israeli policy has been about erasing Palestinian culture and ignoring Palestinian voices. I hear their voices and urge others artists in Australia to hear them too. Art and entertainment should never ignore human rights.”
Contemporary Aboriginal artist and 2019 Archibald Prize finalist Blak Douglas: “I stand in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters just as I do with my First Nations’ peoples both here and abroad. For SBS management to endorse the Eurovision 2019 contest, they effectively deny the ensuing genocide upon the Palestinian citizens on their homeland in favour of ratings.”
Hilmi Dabbagh, the convenor of BDS Australia, said, “While it is a personal milestone for Kate Miller-Heidke to take her post-natal depression inspired song ‘Zero Gravity’ into the grand final of Eurovision, does she realise that Palestinians suffer some of the worst mental health outcomes in the world and easily the highest rate of mental illness in the Middle East due to the 71-year occupation of their lands?”
“We ask Kate Miller-Heidke to reflect on the impact of her visit on Palestinians and to accept the briefing BDS Australia offered her in December from Palestinians in Australia, and join us in campaigning for equal human rights,” Mr Dabbagh said.
CONTACT: Bruce Knobloch Campaign organiser at BDS Australia 0425282450 | [email protected] Follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
MEDIA ALERT: BOYCOTT EUROVISION 2019 PROTEST TOMORROW SATURDAY 11AM AT SBS
Supporters of Palestinians’ equal human rights will be loudly telling SBS board and management how disappointed they are that Eurovision 2019 – happening in apartheid Israel in 3 weeks’ time – is being treated as business as usual by the broadcaster, despite a global call for a boycott from Palestinian artists that is supported by thousands of Australians and prominent musicians and artists, including L-FRESH The Lion (former SBS Eurovision judge), Nick Seymour (Crowded House), Blak Douglas (contemporary indigenous artist), Candy Bowers (artist/creator), Miriam Margoyles (actor) and Colin Friels (actor).
SPEAKERS + MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
* Palestine Action Group spokesperson * BDS Australia spokesperson * Independent candidate for Wentworth (campaigning for ethical foreign policy focusing on Palestine/Israel and West Papua/Indonesia)
* Mary Kostakidis (former face of SBS News) * Helen Razer (outspoken journalist and opinion-maker) * Tom Ballard (comedian and podcaster)
TIME: 11AM PLACE: SBS, 14 Herbert St, Artarmon CONTACT: Bruce Knobloch 0425282450
Benjamin Netanyahu is now heading towards his fifth term as Israel’s Prime Minister, built on a coalition of far right and extremist politicians.
In what has proven a winning strategy, Netanyahu’s last minute pre-election statements promising to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and thus prevent any possibility of a separate, viable Palestinian state, have garnered him the support he needed.
“This outcome means that Israel will continue to become a more extreme apartheid state than it is now,” says Hilmi Dabbagh, Convenor of BDS Australia.
“All the cards in this game are stacked in Israel’s favour. Not only has Netanyahu won again, he has Trump’s backing in every way to claim Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and now even the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“Israeli Likud Party politicians have long maintained that all of greater Palestine would become Israeli territory and there would never be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. It’s in Likud’s charter. This has been downplayed, but is no secret, and shows that the diplomatic world has turned a blind-eye, maintaining a pretence to permit this very outcome of formally annexing the West Bank. Netanyahu’s election promise means they no longer feel the need to mask their contempt for a Palestinian state. Clearly now there’s no plan or even rhetoric for any kind of two-state solution on the part of Israel.
“We in BDS Australia know the only way out of this dreadful situation is for the international community – as it did in South Africa a generation ago – to institute boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the international companies and organisations which support this regime.
“International support for BDS against Israel was called for by a huge coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations in 2006. We in BDS Australia are part of the international BDS movement guided by Palestinians’ calls for peaceful, non-violent action to force Israel to abide by international law and to respect human rights.
“Netanyahu’s election win simply means we in BDS Australia, with our global counterparts, will institute BDS campaigns against Israeli apartheid all the more vigorously.”
For further information: Bruce Knobloch – Campaign organiser 0425 282 450 | [email protected]
Australian artists are calling on SBS, Sony Music Australia, and all ten contestants in Saturday’s ‘Australia Decides’ Eurovision Song Contest event to hear the voices of Palestinians, including Palestinian musicians, who are calling for a boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv in Israel.
Significantly last year’s SBS Eurovision judge, hip hop artist L-FRESH The LION, supports the boycott call, as does renowned Australian actor Colin Friels, both quoted below.
“Israel’s 50 year brutal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, its 11-year illegal blockade and bombings of the two million people trapped in Gaza, its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return home, along with the 65 laws that discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel make it astonishing that Eurovision should be used to normalise and promote Israel, and that SBS and Australian musicians are playing along without comment,” says BDS Australia campaign spokesperson and Brisbane musician Phil Monsour.
“International boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) played an important role in helping end apartheid in South Africa and the same will be true of ending apartheid in Palestine/Israel,” says Monsour.
A protest action in support of the boycott has been called by Justice for Palestine Brisbane and BDS Australia outside the Gold Coast Convention Centre from 3:30 PM AEST this Saturday 9 February.
“I stand with the people of Palestine. As an artist and musician, I don’t see how Eurovision can achieve its goal of bringing the world together through music by having its 2019 competition in Israel, while Israel continues to violently occupy Palestine. In respecting Palestinian’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel, I encourage my peers to do the same. We all have a part to play. We cannot remain silent or be complicit in the suffering of Palestinian people.” – L-FRESH The LION, hip hop artist and 2018 SBS Eurovision judge
Actor Colin Friels remarks, ”Given the siege of Gaza and the slaughter of Palestinians, the televising of the Eurovision Song Contest must not be allowed to ‘artwash’ Israeli brutalities. I strongly support the boycott of this event and urge others to do the same.”
Writer, actor and multidisciplinary artist Candy Bowers says, “Palestinian artists and musicians are asking for our solidarity, recognising our own relative privilege, to join the boycott of Israel until they win justice and equality. Israeli policy has been about erasing Palestinian culture and ignoring Palestinian voices. I hear their voices and urge others artists in Australia to hear them too. Art and entertainment should never ignore human rights.”
“Eurovision in Israel seems like a typical colonial diversionary tactic: play loud so that no one hears the gurgling of those being slain.” – contemporary Aboriginal artist Blak Douglas
Inspired by conscientious artists who shunned Sun City in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, Palestinian artists and cultural organisations have called for nonviolent pressure in the form of boycotts on Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law.
Prominent Australians who have signed the international statement so far include Crowded House’s Nick Seymour, former JJJ host and writer Helen Razer, this year’s Eurovision judge, hip hop artist L-FRESH The LION, writer, director and multidisciplinary artist Candy Bowers, and Sydney-based contemporary Aboriginal artist, Blak Douglas.
“Israel’s long record of ongoing discrimination and its decades long breaches of international law and human rights means it’s entirely inappropriate for next year’s song contest to go ahead in Israel,” said Samah Sabawi, award-winning Australian playwright and spokesperson for the Australian campaign to boycott Eurovision 2019.
“Palestinian artists are calling on musicians and other artists to do the right thing and put human rights ahead of fame, royalties or advertising dollars,” Ms Sabawi said. “More than 130 civilian protesters were just shot dead by Israeli snipers earlier this year in Gaza. How can the world ignore this ongoing lawlessness for a song contest?”
By entrenching its occupation of Palestinian land and adopting the Jewish Nation-State Law, Israel has declared itself an apartheid state. Palestinian citizens inside Israel are now denied equal rights, millions of refugees and their descendants are not permitted to return, and Palestinians under Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank continue to be subjected to measures that violate their basic human rights. These include siege, bombardment, house demolition and arbitrary detentions. By holding Eurovision 2019 in Israel, international broadcasters and artists will be complicit in whitewashing these violations.
“Israel takes its propaganda cues straight out of apartheid South Africa’s playbook. Art is used explicitly to deflect criticism of its human rights violations,” said Ms Sabawi.
“We urge SBS not to participate or broadcast Eurovision 2019 if it is in Israel. We love SBS and we love Eurovision, but surely human rights are more valuable than a song contest? Surely international law is more important than advertising dollars?” she said.
BDS Australia has launched an online petition calling on SBS not to participate in Eurovision 2019.
Prominent international musicians who have refused to perform in Israel so far include: Shakira, Lorde, Lauryn Hill, Chuck D, Massive Attack, Rogers Waters, Patti Smith, Annie Lennox, Faithless, Brian Eno, The Pixies, Thurston Moore, Elvis Costello and Cat Power.
“I stand with the people of Palestine. As an artist and musician, I don’t see how Eurovision can achieve its goal of bringing the world together through music by having its 2019 competition in Israel, while Israel continues to violently occupy Palestine. In respecting Palestinian’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel, I encourage my peers to do the same. We all have a part to play. We cannot remain silent or be complicit in the suffering of Palestinian people.”
This website is maintained by BDS Australia, which is affiliated with the coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement and by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a BNC member organisation.