Musicians were called upon “to publicly assert their solidarity with the Palestinian people,” as more than 600 musicians from around the world issued a letter addressing the recent violence between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
The group of artists included Patti Smith, Rage Against the Machine, Run the Jewels, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, Noname, the Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought, Royce da 5’9″ and Cypress Hill, who signed the letter which was published by the organization Musicians for Palestine.
“As musicians, we cannot be silent. Today it is essential that we stand with Palestine,” the statement says, adding that “we speak together and demand justice, dignity and the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and all who are fighting colonial dispossession and violence across the planet.” It alleges that the Israeli military has committed war crimes.
The letter focused on the humanity of the situation and was the result of a collective effort that tapped the musical networks of known musicians, said organizer Stefan Christoph, a Montreal-based musician and community activist. Individual artists have released statements before the letter, showing their concern about the long-running conflict. “The violence and atrocities we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah, the Al Aqsa compound and Gaza are a continuation of decades of Israel’s brutal apartheid and violent occupation of Palestine. We stand with the Palestinian people as they resist this colonial terror in all its forms,” stated the caption of an Instagram post by Rage Against the Machine with an image of a mosque on May 11.
“As an artist and activist from a nation of genocide survivors, I empathize with the oppressed people of Palestine pummeled by Israeli Occupation.” wrote System of a Down’s Tankian on Facebook, who is also an advocate for Armenian causes.
Respected independent artists and producers Sarah Davachi, Ozomatli, Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls), William Tyler, Amber Coffman, Claudio Parra González, Thurston Moore, Bun B, Heba Kadry, Nicolas Jaar and Pharoahe Monch were also amongst other signees.
Pink Floyd’s Waters has long advocated the organization’s cause. He has called for a cultural boycott of Israel in the face of what signatories of the new letter call its “legacies of systemic violence, racism and dispossession shaped by colonialism.”
Christopher also mentioned that the open letter is focused on the ways in which the occupation of the West Bank affects Palestinian people and on the Israeli bombings. “We’re trying to highlight the humanity and the injustices that Palestinian people are facing, and we think it’s time for us to be honest collectively, on a global level, about what that actually looks like.” Adds Christoph, “Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have made that clear many times.”
In conclusion of Thursday’s letter, musicians have been called upon to add their signatures and refuse “to perform at Israel’s complicit cultural institutions, and by standing firm in your support of the Palestinian people and their human right to sovereignty and freedom. We believe this is crucial to one day live in a world without segregation and apartheid.”
At the moment, Isreal and Hamas are in the middle of a tenuous ceasefire brokered last week by Egypt and American officials. 240 Palestinians lost their lives in the eleven days of violence while Hamas-launched rockets killed a dozen people in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.