Why the Board Should Vote "No" To Oxfam


By Jonathan Hoffman
January 21, 2013
Share

This is an edited version of the original, sent to Deputies - full links were appended. The motion to partner with Oxfam was carried 113 - 65, 15 abstentions

1. Why are you bringing this motion?

(a) Because the Oxfam project was initiated undemocratically

Whether or not you support it, in all likelihood the first you knew about the Grow Tatzmiach project was when you read about it in the JC in November.

Is this why you became a Deputy?

To have important decisions made in secret by the Board of Deputies Executive?

It’s entirely wrong that the Executive should push through such a project without discussion and a vote in the Board. It makes a mockery of the Board’s claim to be ‘democratic’. To the best of our knowledge even the Communities Issues Division under its new Chair has never discussed and voted on this project (save for hearing and vetoing our motion – which is not the same thing at all!). It is hardly conducive to encouraging people to stand as Deputies if an important and obviously controversial decision is presented to them as a fait accompli.
We are giving you a chance to make a difference to Board policy

(b) Because it is questionable whether the Board should be doing this at all

We question whether the Board under its Constitution should even be involved in this kind of project. The Board has 9 aims. One of them enjoins the Board to “Promote a better understanding of the Jewish Community within the UK and, to that end, develop relations with other ethnic and minority groups”. It does not say that we should undertake projects with charities such as Oxfam.

(c) Because Oxfam is one of the most anti-Israel charities

However we would not be bringing this motion if the Board was cooperating with one of the thousands of charities that do not delegitimise and demonise Israel. Our problem is with Oxfam. Oxfam is one of the four UK charities (alongside War On Want, Christian Aid, Save The Children) consistently displaying the greatest hostility to Israel . Here are some examples. Links in footnotes can also be found in the accompanying WORD document.

30 October 2012: Crisis Action, a London-based umbrella group of NGOs, called on the EU to implement a boycott of goods from Judea and Samaria. The report (“Trading Away Peace” ) was written and distributed by Crisis Action. It bears the logos of 22 members of Crisis Action. While Oxfam is not one, it is a “Core Partner” and one of 19 “Current Funders” of Crisis Action and when we asked it to distance itself from the boycott recommendation, it refused . And as recently as 2009 when Oxfam ended its contract with the actress Kristin Davis – who had been an Oxfam Ambassador – it explicitly endorsed a partial boycott, saying “Oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade.” So much for the statement you received from the Board on 24 December (“Oxfam has never called for a boycott of any Israeli goods, including settlement goods”).

July 2012: Oxfam itself produced a report (On the Brink) recommending that NGOs should engage in explicit violations of international law by “initiat[ing] and support[ing] development projects in the Jordan Valley and other parts ...of Area C...even if they have not been approved by the Israeli Civil Administration” (Area C is the part of Judea and Samaria where, under the Oslo Accords, Israel has full civil and security control (except over Palestinian civilians)).

A spokesman at the Embassy of Israel in London, Amir Ofek, commented :

Oxfam's latest report on the situation in the Palestinian territories puts a clearly political agenda above any humanitarian concern. Its call to the international community and to NGOs to initiate projects which clearly violate existing agreements is irresponsible and inflammatory. Far from advancing peace, such an approach undermines the prospects of reaching a negotiated resolution to the conflict

The report also demonises Israel for allegedly depriving the Palestinians of water: “In 1967, there were 209 active Palestinian wells in the Jordan Valley; today there are just 89. This is mainly due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian well and water resource development.” This is simply untrue. The truth is that Palestinians’ share of aquifers increased dramatically once control of Judea/Samaria passed from Jordan to Israel in 1967, despite Israel’s limited water supply. Most of the water problems in the Palestinian territories are caused by the failure of the Palestinian Authority to implement Israeli-approved projects. Over half of the wells approved for exploitation of the territory’s Eastern aquifer, for instance, have still not been drilled, though Israel approved permits for the project in 2000.

December 2009: It was lobbying by Oxfam which led the UK government to introduce guidelines on voluntary labelling of goods and produce originating from Judea and Samaria. This only served to encourage the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) lobby. Note that Oxfam had lobbied for compulsory labelling.

October 2009: Oxfam was accused by an Israeli NGO, Regavim, of being involved in constructing a water-siphoning system, which illegally diverted water from the “main authorised Palestinian water supply.”
August 2009: Oxfam severed ties with actress Kristin Davis (who had been an Oxfam Ambassador) due to her work endorsing the Israeli Ahava cosmetics company. In its statement Oxfam explicitly endorsed a partial boycott, saying “Oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade.”

January 2009: In a comment about Gaza after Operation Cast Lead, Oxfam International’s Director Jeremy Hobbs said: “The people of Gaza are living in the world’s largest prison but have fewer rights than convicts’ . This comment demonised Israel. Hobbs made no reference to the truckloads of goods entering Gaza every day nor did he mention why security measures were necessary – namely, because of the thousand of missiles being fired by Hamas terrorists at civilians in Israel’s south.

2003: Oxfam’s Belgian Office produced a poster of an “Israeli orange” dripping with blood to promote boycotts. The caption read: “Israeli fruits have a bitter taste...reject the occupation of Palestine, don't buy Israeli fruits and vegetables.”

Oxfam consistently paints a highly misleading picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict , departing from its humanitarian mission focused on poverty. Most Oxfam statements erase all complexity and blame Israel exclusively for the situation, and these distortions and their impacts contribute significantly to conflict. Further examples were provided by Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam International, who said of Operation Cast Lead: “It has been a form of collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community.” And in an Oxfam Press Release (29 December 2008) John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam’s country programme manager in Jerusalem, said “The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law .”

Oxfam also distorts economic analyses of the West Bank and Gaza, repeatedly arguing that that the sole impediment to Palestinian development is Israeli policy, ignoring intra-Palestinian limitations and factors.

(d) Because Oxfam partners with some deeply questionable organisations

A paper published this week by Stand For Peace demonstrates that Oxfam has no qualms in partnering with some very unpleasant organisations.

The Executive of the Board has said it will discontinue the Grow Tatzmiach project if Oxfam “partners with or supports any organisation that promotes or condones violence or partners with or supports any organisation that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.” The ‘Stand For Peace’ paper demonstrates that Oxfam’s links with such organisations are so numerous and so deep that even if the project goes ahead, it would need to be abandoned within days. Anyone who thinks that Oxfam is going to drop all these relationships simply in order to maintain the Grow Tatzmiach project is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

(e) Because the Oxfam project violates the Constitution

The Oxfam tieup violates one of the Board’s aims under its Constitution. The fourth of the Board’s nine aims in the Constitution is to "Take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel's security, welfare and standing". It has a second Constitutional responsibility to: "Support and seek to protect Jews and Jewish communities outside the UK" That includes Jews in Israel and in the Disputed Territories.

Cooperating with Oxfam (with the exception of persuading them to change their anti-Israel discourse and policies) runs directly counter to these constitutional obligations.

2. What damage does an Oxfam tieup do to the Jewish Community?

The Oxfam tieup sends entirely the wrong message to the worldwide Jewish Community and to the many non-Jewish supporters of Israel throughout the world. It gives a seal of approval (a hecksher) to Oxfam from the UK Jewish Community. There is little doubt that this is Oxfam’s agenda and the reason why they are willing to put £8000 into this project. They clearly want to sanitise Oxfam for those who on principle do not donate to anti-Israel charities.

We emphasise that we are NOT trying to ‘boycott’ Oxfam. To the extent that dialogue with Oxfam is aimed at moderating its anti-Israel discourse and policies, we welcome it and indeed would welcome being part of it.

3. What message does the Oxfam tieup send about the Board’s attitude to Israel?

Particularly to Israelis, the Oxfam tieup sends entirely the wrong message about the Board’s attitude to Israel. Here is a message received from an Israeli resident, Hadar Sela:

The traditionally warm ties between the British Jewish community and Israel make the decision by representatives of that community to partner an organisation with a rich history of delegitimisation of Israelis especially perplexing and demoralising to those of us committed to the two-state solution which the BDS movement - of which Oxfam is part - rejects

The Board will rightly be accused of inconsistency. The Oxfam tie-up is diametrically at odds with the Board’s stance on the Co-Op’s partial boycott. How can activists trying to change the Co-Op’s policy carry any credibility, when the Board is seen to be happy to cooperate with Oxfam? The same applies to those attempting to change the stance of the Methodists, the Quakers, the University and College Union and many others. This Oxfam tieup effectively pulls the rug from under the feet of anti-boycott campaigners. It emboldens Israel’s enemies – they will say “If even the Jewish community accepts Oxfam’s anti-Israel discourse and policies, then Israel must unquestionably be in the wrong.”

In summary ….

VOTE ‘NO’ ON SUNDAY TO THE OXFAM TIE-UP!

COMMENTS

Rich Armbach

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 17:48

Rate this:

-1 points

Too too funny


Rich Armbach

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 17:50

Rate this:

-1 points

The idiot will undoubtedly repost it after hours but that will be way too late


happygoldfish

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 09:17

Rate this:

2 points

Jonathan Hoffman: This is an edited version of the original … full links were appended.

jonathan, you should always provide links

if you don't want to take up any extra space, then just make some of the words clickable

type <a href=" "> to the left of a word or phrase (with the link url inside the quotes marks), and </a> to the right, and it will become a clickable link (that becomes underlined when you put the mouse over it)!

Rich Armbach: Too too funny

rich, this speech was serious enough to help win over over-third ot the total votes!

Jonathan Hoffman: August 2009: Oxfam severed ties with actress Kristin Davis (who had been an Oxfam Ambassador) due to her work endorsing the Israeli Ahava cosmetics company.
In its statement Oxfam explicitly endorsed a partial boycott, saying “Oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade.”

this alleged quotation is almost certainly untrue (and the "statement" non-existent)

it comes from a no-longer-available new york post article of thursday 6/8/2009

(curiously, although many other websites quote it on that day, the nyp website itself has nothing until a cobbled-together article (by 5 authors: Richard Johnson with Paula Froelich, Bill Hoffmann, Corynne Steindler, and Neel Shah) six days later, on 12/8/2009: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/item_o5m9VIo99OqHDauO3134aK;jsessionid=E... )

the words "oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade" appear to come from a private communication to an unspecified nyp reporter

at no time has the nyp substantiated this quotation

there is nothing remotely similar on the oxfam website

and the nyp article was clearly fundamentally wrong anyway, since it declaimed the sensational headline "'SEX' STAR, OXFAM, PART WAYS" and " The stunning actress is no longer working as a spokeswoman for human rights/relief organization Oxfam International …" …

which not only was denied at the time by both parties, but has since proved to be untrue: there are plenty of reports of her working for oxfam since them!

jonathan, since this "explicit" quotation seems to be totally unreliable, totally unsubstantiated, and part of a sensational article written by someone who clearly got the basic story wrong anyway, would it not be a good idea to stop quoting it?


Mary in Brighton

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 09:45

Rate this:

-1 points

Jonathan why were you afraid for the outside world to hear this wonderful speech that " helped win over a third of the votes"? And why is the original version deleted and replaced by an edited version?

You accuse Rabbi Goldstein of having barren arguments. Well there is no argument so barren as an argument you are afraid for people to hear.


joshua789

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 09:49

Rate this:

-2 points

Good Boycott News for 2013:

BREAKING: American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist Stanley Jordan has decided to respect the cultural boycott of Israel, and cancel his planned appearance as the headlining artist for the Israel Red Sea Jazz Festival (his image was used to create publicity posters in Hebrew for the state-funded event).

Jordan engaged in a long discussion on his facebook fan page with many people including Palestinians.


Rich Armbach

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 09:58

Rate this:

-1 points

" Why.............."

Because he is a chicken chit.


zaheerayin

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 10:16

Rate this:

-1 points

Well, given such egregious actions of the Executive, there's only one thing for you to do....

RESIGN

Right?


happygoldfish

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 10:29

Rate this:

2 points

joshua789: American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist Stanley Jordan has decided to respect the cultural boycott of Israel, and cancel his planned appearance as the headlining artist for the Israel Red Sea Jazz Festival (his image was used to create publicity posters in Hebrew for the state-funded event).

(that was announced several weeks ago!)

stanley jordan was replaced by the excellent berlin-american jazz guitarist and keyboardist Kurt Rosenwinkel, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Rosenwinkel

the festival was last weekend, with an excellent international line-up, see http://www.redseajazzeilat.com/en/


suzanna

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 11:59

Rate this:

-2 points

Lollapalooza Israel collapses as artists stay away

The Ynet article also noted:

'The festival’s main sponsor, the company NMC United, pulled out not long after the festival was announced, after the production was unable to guarantee that international artists would visit Israel'.

Meanwhile Lollapalooza’s two remaining international franchises are going ahead in Brazil and Chile


joemillis1959

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:47

Rate this:

-1 points

Mr/Ms Goldfish, you state that

rich, this speech was serious enough to help win over over-third ot the total votes!

Perhaps, but unlikely. The battlelines were drawn well before the motion was voted on. Speeches, and they were mostly good - and only one, a Ms Pike from North Salford, descended to the Hitler comparison - were preaching to the converted.

There are those synagogues and organisations which are incredibly right wing - Such as Stanmore, Canons Park and Belmont, as well as the JNF - and those which are centre left, such as the whole of MRJ, Masorti and LJ, and the "brainwashable" students. The voting, by and large, was along denominational and generational lines.


happygoldfish

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:59

Rate this:

2 points
suzanna: Lollapalooza Israel collapses as artists stay away

no, postponed … plug productions are reported (in hebrew) in http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4335355,00.html (21/1/2013) as saying …

Lollapalooza Israel is a huge and complicated production. We are coordinating the technical details with the festival’s American managers. The event will probably be postponed until 2014.

plug productions was always considered to be overstretching itself, see this haaretz article of 21/9/2012

2012 will probably be remembered as one of the best years for Israeli music fans. A number of artists canceled shows for political reasons, but compared with previous years these were few and far between. The offering of foreign artists was impressive: Big names such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Morrissey and Chris Cornell; and smaller indie and non-mainstream performers such as Of Montreal, the Walkmen, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Afghan Whigs. And don't forget Madonna.

But all these names don't add up to a real music festival, which Israelis have had to fly to Europe or America to experience. If Lollapalooza does come off next summer, it will set a precedent for the Israeli music scene, notes Marc Geiger, a vice president of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and one of the festival's founders.

But some here have their doubts about whether NMC and Plug can pull off the enormous enterprise. The two companies have little experience in concerts and festivals with tens of thousands of fans. And Lollapalooza has its own special culture: Most performers are considered alternative rockers.

Industry sources say the announcement was made this summer because it would let the promoters start looking for sponsors. This would give the producers time to gauge the reaction of the public and investors - and see whether a profit could be made from Lollapalooza Israel. An industry executive said such an event would need huge sponsorships, and in the end would not prove profitable.
He said the organizers needed around $4-5 million in sponsorships, and a ticket would cost about NIS 500. "I don't think these amounts will draw a big crowd," he said. "For the festival to make a profit, they need about 30,000 people to come every night to Yarkon Park. I can't see that happening."


joemillis1959

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:16

Rate this:

-1 points

What I still don't get is why someone who has his face plastered all over this blog site and is photographed at every anti-Israel event going is afraid to show his face in a live stream. It doesn't add up. Where's Richard Millett's camera work when you need it?


zaheerayin

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:47

Rate this:

-1 points

So....we had one comment about Hitler and one about brainwashing....neither speaker would speak on camera....

I geddit.


Rich Armbach

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:47

Rate this:

-1 points

Maybe he didn't want folks to be able to compare the glamour mug shot above with the reality.

And as for Richard he is probably busy with his new hobby of filming honking London buses.


suzanna

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 14:19

Rate this:

-2 points

More news about Veolia! (a few weeks later)

Davis, California – The Davis Committee of Palestinian Rights (DCPR) is happy to report that Veolia Water North America has withdrawn as a prospective bidder on a $325 million dollar project that would provide treated water from the Sacramento River to residents of Woodland and Davis in Yolo County, California. The announcement came at the December 20, 2012 meeting of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (Water Agency), a joint powers authority between the University of California – Davis and the cities of Woodland and Davis. Veolia’s withdrawal followed efforts by citizens of Yolo County to prevent Veolia’s bidding due to the company’s involvement in the violation of Palestinian human rights.


suzanna

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 14:27

Rate this:

-1 points

Ynet reported in Hebrew that:

As had already been reported in December, many difficulties cropped up over the last few months in recruiting the famous artists to take part in the festival, and the production had also run into logistical and financial difficulties in its attempt to produce three consecutive days of performances at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv.

Lollapalooza Israel has also been removed from official website


suzanna

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 14:30

Rate this:

0 points

Earlier this month, the website for Lollapalooza Israel disappeared. It now redirects to the site for the South Lake Tahoe dance event the Snowglobe. The latter is also promoted by Lollapalooza organizer C3 Presents.

If it was 'postponed' why delete any mention of it?


zaheerayin

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:06

Rate this:

0 points

I fear that Jonathan is one of those prophets who are destined to not be appreciated in their own life time.


Mary in Brighton

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:16

Rate this:

0 points

You mean the prophets that didn't want people to hear their prophesies ?


happygoldfish

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:41

Rate this:

2 points

suzanna: More news about Veolia! (a few weeks later)

Davis, California – The Davis Committee of Palestinian Rights (DCPR) is happy to report that Veolia Water North America has withdrawn as a prospective bidder on a $325 million dollar project that would provide treated water from the Sacramento River to residents of Woodland and Davis in Yolo County, California. The announcement came at the December 20, 2012 meeting of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (Water Agency), a joint powers authority between the University of California – Davis and the cities of Woodland and Davis. Veolia’s withdrawal followed efforts by citizens of Yolo County to prevent Veolia’s bidding due to the company’s involvement in the violation of Palestinian human rights

you lot do keep trying, don't you?

this victory claimed by the boycotters is a complete lie

the municipality decided last month to keep veolia in the running

see the inestimable davis enterprise ("breaking news for yolo county"!) at http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/city/despite-bds-protest-water... (20/12/2012) …

But the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Board ruled at its meeting Thursday in Woodland that it had no business taking sides in an international debate and unanimously decided that, based on a business ethics survey each candidate was asked to filled out in January, neither Veolia Water, nor CDM United or CH2M Hill would be disqualified from the process.

About five or six other members of the public spoke on the item as well, but most were in favor of Veolia for various reasons.

George Rooks, a Davis resident who also lives in Israel six months out of the year, told of his personal experiences with Veolia Transportation services, and that he did not see the wrongful discrimination of Palestinians.

“On virtually every single bus trip (my wife and I have) ever taken, and every train trip we’ve ever taken, there were Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs riding on the transportation,” Rooks said. “I’d just like to say that the idea that Veolia somehow discriminates against Arabs or Palestinians by operating transportation rights, is, I believe, absurd just based on my everyday experience there.”

BDS has put pressure on local businesses in the past, as in early 2010 it asked the Davis Food Co-op to ban Israeli food products from its store. However, the Co-op elected to remove itself from the debate as well and continued selling the products.

however, the municipality changed the time-line (revised the schedule) of the works, leaving veolia short of resources in the area in the new time-line

the municipality itself is very disappointed at veolia's withdrawal (having already rejected the boycotters, last month), see http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/with-veolia-out-only-two-firms... (22/1/2013) …

after several delays in the project schedule, the company found that it could not retain the key personnel and resources it would need to compete for the project.

“We looked at our resources and at our key staff and we found ourselves unable to respond based on the new timeline,” Haghighi said Wednesday. “We’re very busy with other pursuits and our resources are concentrated in other places. We just really didn’t feel like we could be gearing up again for this project based on the revised schedule.”

At the agency board meeting on Dec. 20, Mayor Joe Krovoza did not appear thrilled about the development.


Harvey

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:53

Rate this:

2 points

Here is the letter refuting the BDS on Stanley Jordan .
Read it and understand why Norman Finklestein refers to the PSC as a cult

International artists scheduled to perform in the January 2013 Red Sea Festival were targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) in an attempt to get them to cancel their tours. The following is a response to these BDS efforts from Christophe Deghelt, the manager of jazz musician, Jacky Terrasson. We have hightlighted salient points but urge you to read it in its entirety.

The original text is in French. We have provided an English translation.

Jazz musician, Jacky Terrasson

CAN ONE STILL PLAY A CONCERT IN ISRAEL?

Christophe Deghelt

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The following is a blog entry that risks making waves. However, I wanted to share a debate that was important to us.

For some time now, artists invited to play a concert in Israel are routinely accosted by organizations urging them not to travel there, nor to support the Israeli government and its politics. They claim that Israel is an Apartheid state and a colonial power committing war crimes against Palestinians. It's obvious why the debate concerning this region of the world, so long embroiled in a violent and unending war, would be extremely lively and complex. Culture seems to be an issue today, perhaps even a new battlefield, in this very sad conflict.

For the last several days, two jazz artists, Erik Truffaz and Jack Terrasson have been swept into a fierce controversy, a furious and passionate debate on Facebook and other social networks and websites regarding their participation at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel this month. These artists are renowned and recognized for their talent, their humanity, their very open-minded approach, their pacifism and their generosity.

Here then, in this blog entry, is our position regarding this debate. We state it in view of pulling ourselves out of this difficult controversy and averting the pitfalls of oversimplification, blindness, manipulation and intolerance.

First, for context, some background information.

On December 12, 2012, we finalized a contract with the organizers of the Red Sea Jazz Festival to have Jacky Terrasson perform two concerts there.

On January 2, we received a letter from BDS France (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) asking us to boycott this concert. Here is the letter:

[BDS Letter] - not included in this translation

On January 4, I contacted the representative of that organization, Mr. Dror Warschawski. We spoke a good hour over the telephone, explaining to him why we agreed to play in Israel. We explained to him our refusal to be made instruments in this conflict and our refusal to boycott this festival or our Israeli fans. All the while, we expressed our sympathy towards the Palestinian cause, our sadness over this ferocious war and our primary mission, namely, to deliver a message of peace.

At the same time, RTS (Swiss Radio) was going to broadcast a live debate that Sunday evening on the issue of Erik Truffaz's appearance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival (the producer having contacted us over the weekend, but we were unavailable to take part in the debate). We noticed that Erik and Jacky's Facebook pages were overrun with intimidating comments, not from our fans, but from activists. Some of these comments are really obnoxious, rising to the level of sheer harassment and blatant denigration. Facebook has become a battleground for BDS campaigners, our fans, Israelis and those supporting Israel. How sad!

On January 7, we received a new message from BDS, this time via email. This message was more insistent. It branded the festival as having a "stamp of shame." Here is the email:

Mail BDS [translation not included]

Our office and our artists are now receiving a veritable tidal wave of emails from complete strangers. Faced with this pressure and harassment, we've decided to publish a response defending our position on our blog and our social networks. I think our response presents a third way, a more just and more tolerant way, to emerge from this conflict in which artists are used as political instruments. Here it is:

[Mr. Deghelt replies to letter from Mr. Warshawshi, of The BDS Campaign in France]

As I pointed out to you over the telephone, we do not agree with your "pressure tactics on artists," or your Cultural Boycott. We refuse to be made into instruments, and we won't give in to your pressure, whether by email, by mail, by telephone or on Facebook.

Performing in Israel does not mean we approve of the Israeli government or its politics, and it doesn't mean we don't understand the turmoil and the suffering of the Palestinian population. Your attempt to railroad artists into a black-and-white dilemma is intellectually dishonest. To allege that by performing at the Red Sea Jazz Festival we are supporting the Israeli government, or that by cancelling our concert we'll be showing our compassion towards the Palestinian people, demonstrates an extremely reductive attitude. We refuse to be placed in either category.

1) Jacky hasn't performed in Israel for more than 15 years and many of his fans are elated by his impending arrival. We love human beings, whether they are Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish or Muslim, and we will always perform for humankind. We don't segregate our audience or our fans.

2) We are apolitical, we play music, and we carry a message of peace and love. The Israeli-Palestine conflict is extremely complex. We disapprove all acts of violence on both sides and are profoundly saddened by this conflict and its tragic consequences.

3) If the Eilat Festival is financed in part by the Israeli government, it demonstrates their openness towards culture and jazz, which only benefits the examination of cultures in general. A dictatorship would not invite foreign artists, quite the reverse. Jacky's fans in Israel are like all other jazz fans, humane, pacifist and hoping for peace in this part of the world. They are your best allies and yet you seem to want to punish them. Moreover, the Eilat Festival is an international festival recognized for its quality and its openness to the world.

4) Boycotting this festival sends an unjust message to the Israeli population as a whole, to our fans and to our friends, and stigmatizes a population and a country instead of contributing something peaceful and sending a message of hope. We are free to express our convictions in Israel and I've spoken about this to the Festival organizers. Let's push your reasoning to its conclusion. Assuming no foreign artist appeared in Israel and the jazz festival ceased to exist...who would win? What would happen to the openness, the freedom, and the chance to present a different culture? What would happen to expressing our opinions? What about the arts policy in Iran, Syria, and Mali today? No more foreign artists. Is this your sense of openness and dialogue?

5) You say that certain Palestinians won't be able to attend Jacky's concert and that is indeed very sad; we would be happy to play in Palestine, if ever invited (this still hasn't been the case). We are not responsible for this situation and can only deplore it. The road to a better world is a long one.

6) We concur with Erik Truffaz in his response to you: if we had to agree with the politics of the countries inviting us to perform, we wouldn't have many places in which to perform. Our mission lies elsewhere, in music and the hopes of carrying a message of peace and tolerance to the people of our planet.

7) Your activism and your intolerance are abominable. Phony Facebook "fans" have posted messages expressly asking our musicians not play in Israel. This is sheer harassment. Moreover, it's really quite surprising because these fans purporting to sway the artists are not fans at all, but simply your army of little soldiers polluting the calm and positive spaces of our artists'Facebook pages.

8) During our phone conversation, you insinuated quite slyly that you were a big fan of Jacky Terrasson, that you used to buy his records and attend his concerts, but that you would think twice about it now, knowing he plays for Israel. Your questionable words, like the tone of your last email, won't change our convictions. I don't believe for an instant that you are a fan of Jacky Terrasson.

9) What bothers me the most about your effort...is your hatred of Israel, a pathological hatred, blind and most assuredly hidden behind a veil of "political correctness." Your actions don't demonstrate a love or defense of Palestinians but rather a hatred for Israelis. At one time, we knew full well in what direction such madness had driven our world. You are an anti-Zionist and deceitfully and paradoxically an anti-Semite (you, the grandson of a rabbi renowned for his humanistic views). You hide this under the pretext of representing a humanitarian organization, under the pretext of being a defender of justice.

10) When Stanley Jordan, the Portico Quartet, cancelled their concert at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, it was their choice, which we respect. Some of our artists refuse to perform in Israel. Those are their political convictions, we live in a democracy, and we sincerely respect all opinions. Well then, respect ours as well. We believe we can be more useful by being invited to play for the people of Israel, than by refusing to perform in a country of whose government's decisions we disapprove. Jacky Terrasson is free to draw his own opinion, after his arrival. Don't force people to think what you would like them to think...this is intellectual tyranny and manipulation, the same tyranny and manipulation you attribute to Israel's rulers.

11) Palestine needs international support, positive actions and peace, and it's not by advocating violence (both intellectual and verbal) and intolerance that you'll help Palestine. I myself have been to Ramallah to produce a free concert featuring Shakti, which the U.N supports. We helped finance a school of music for children victimized by the war. These are positive actions, non-violent, meaningful and humane. Pitting both sides against each other is not striving towards peace; it is adding fuel to the fire.

12) In my agency, I represent Muslim artists, Israeli artists, and people of many different religions and nationalities. My office is a place of tolerance, peace and dialogue. I have produced more than 3000 concerts in the world, and it's the first time I have received such obnoxious letters. You, a man of science, you should stick to the rigors of analysis instead of engaging in an open battle with artists.

I will end by quoting Koffi Annan who said, "Tolerance is a virtue that makes peace possible."

Very cordially yours,

Christophe Deghelt

http://deghelt-productions.com/blog/files/25f794123d7d6608b1088b43986010...

Translated into English for CCFP by Talia Shulman Gold


happygoldfish

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 10:05

Rate this:

2 points
suzanna, never mind lollapalooza, sir cliff richard is returning to israel this summer, see http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4334995,00.html

… will perform at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena on July 11.

Sir Cliff Richard, 72, … first performed in Israel in September 1963. Then, as a teen idol, he was greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by some 2,000 fans. He returned to the Jewish state in the late 1960s, when he filmed the musical documentary "His Land," and again in 1988 as part of Israel's 40th anniversary celebrations.

also: "English rock band Uriah Heep is returning to Israel for one concert at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, on January 28. This will be the group's sixth performance in Israel." (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4325184,00.html)


joemillis1959

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 10:26

Rate this:

1 point

Cliff Richard and Uriah Heep? Haven't the Jews suffered enough? ;-)


StevenKalka

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 16:28

Rate this:

0 points

That letter from Chris Deghelt couldn't say it better. If you boycott somebody or something every time you have a disagreement, you'll become an unhappy, bitter person.

I disagreed with Elvis Costello when he cancelled a performance in Israel. I initially stopped playing his records, but subsequently resumed and just physically segregate them from my other records.


joemillis1959

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:09

Rate this:

1 point

David Brown in this week's JC nails it:

An "Israel first and foremost" approach can become poisonously polarising. Peers elsewhere in the diaspora relate experiences of having people call for their sacking over their stance on Israeli policy. Readers may remember the strong criticism of Rabbi Wittenberg following encounters with London Citizens or of Mick Davis over his frank discussion with Peter Beinart. Opponents of working with those who don't agree with some of us on Israel effectively suggest we boycott the boycotters - without any acknowledgement of the irony, or that there may be people within our community who choose not to purchase products from the West Bank....

Beyond this, our community needs to value equally the many endeavours contributing to a vibrant British Jewry. We need to recognise that, despite our different priorities, we share a deep commitment to our future and draw inspiration from our common heritage.
We shouldn't allow supporting Israel to be the issue that dominates community life. It certainly shouldn't dictate how we work to realise the world envisaged by Isaiah and other prophets: "to loosen the chains of injustice… set the oppressed free… share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter".

And as for the threat by some extremist groups and synagogues to withhold funding, if they don't pay they should have no say. Kick them off the Board.


joemillis1959

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:13

Rate this:

0 points

Interesting speech on Sunday, very passionate, especially the echoing of the three "Nos" of Khartoum at the end.

Unfortunately, I found it quite astounding that those who proposed the motion chose not to speak from the streaming microphone. Surely, as Orwell said, "Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear." Why so coy, then? And was it really necessary for Rosalind Pike to make the Hitler comparison? Very bad form. Still if people are scared to show their faces - a fear of a harrowing time at work, perhaps? - and have their views known, what can you do? It's good that these views are minuted, Hansard-style, so everyone will be able to follow who said what to whom.

Also, it was most insulting to the students and the young members of the community to claim they would be brainwashed. Do you not believe they are strong willed and minded enough to think for themselves?

Equally strange was Gary Mond's call for unity. What unity? Jews united? When did that ever happen? We are much better and stronger when we are diverse. That's why we are still around. We aren't so much the People of the Book as the People of the Row. This "Israel first and foremost" approach is what poisons the debate and causes disunity, not the other way around.

Quite amusing were those who were against the tie-up who said they had the full backing of their synagogue councils. Did they think we didn't consult? Of course we did, and got unanimous support to vote in favour of the co-operation.

It was very strange that you mentioned Sderot and others from your side saying that we must not negotiate with enemies. But that's exactly what Israel did with Hamas to get a ceasefire in the south. And to get Gilad Shalit freed.

If the Jerusalem Municipality works with Oxfam, why can't we? And even the Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub says we should engage. At Limmud he said we should each engage with those bodies in Israel that reflect our individual values, including the UK Task Force on the plight of Israeli Arabs and the New Israel Fund. Is he an anti-Zionist too? Perhaps Isi should write about that, or has he been instructed to stop attacking British Jews? It's a rumour.

I get it that you want the community and its elected bodies to be sub-contractors for the Israeli government (especially if it's a far right government like this and the next one), but do we really have to be "more Catholic than the Pope"?

Still, all's well that ends well.


Advis3r

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 09:32

Rate this:

0 points

"(especially if it's a far right government like this and the next one)"

Millis as usual hasn't a clue - this time we have it in writing.


Advis3r

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 10:11

Rate this:

0 points

Let's be frank Millis like many others in the UK (the BBC and the Guardian to name but two) does not understand Israeli politics or even what the Israeli voter looks for when exercising his/her democratic right to vote.
There is no right and left as that is understood in UK politics which now cow tows to Muslim sensibilities as a visit to hansard for 23 January clearly shows. it seems if Israel would stop building houses for Jews peace would break out in the Middle East. That only Israel fails to abide by the Oslo accords - funny that no mention about settlements in the Oslo accords but agreement that neither party should take unilateral steps you know like going to the UN to upgrade your status.
Anyway Yesh Atid believes in the retention of the whole of Jerusalem and the main settlement blocs does that make them ultra nationalist?
Where the parties substantially differ is in their approach to achieving peace with the Arabs.
So look at Bayit Hayehudi's social platform not much different than that of Yesh Atid's or even that of Meretz.
Better still leave us alone and start worrying that the UK is slowly becoming part of the forthcoming European Caliphate - even your MP's are in thrall due no doubt to the fears of not being re-elected if they so much as utter a word supportive of Israel.


joemillis1959

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:20

Rate this:

0 points

Let's be civilised and look at this sensibly. We aren't going to agree, but let's try to understand each other's perspective.

I agree with you that the old left/right paradigms don't work when it comes to Israel.

Therefore, in my opinion, Likud and Habayit Hayehudi are exclusionist parties which do not like - to put it mildly - people who do not share their ethno-religious background. They are statist, where everything is subservient to the state and its institutions and symbols.

Yesh Atid are NIMBYs - Not In My Back Yard people, which has a charismatic leader who represents the resentful secular middle class. The question is whether he'll sell-out and therefore be a flash-in-the-pan, much like his late father's party was.

Those three parties will be the basis of the next government, with the other centrist parties, Livni and the rump of Kadima, serving as a fig-leaf. Because with 6 and 2 seats respectively it's difficult to be an effective opposition in Israel.

Whether the ultra-Orthodox can get enough of a get-out clause when it comes to "sharing the burden", their housing and education will determine if they join. Their institutions do rely a lot on state funding, as I'm sure you'll agree, so if I were a betting man, I'd say they'll swallow a bit of their pride in the name of "unity" and do a deal. Israeli Finance Minsters have proved to be able to get funds to coalition partners, even if their room for manoeuvre is limited because deficit has grown to 40 billion shekels - almost twice as much as Netanyahu and Steinitz predicted.

Problem is that very few people are buying Bibi's BS. The Obama Administration is "inured", the new Congressmen and women are less attached than those who went before and diaspora Jewry - until recently considered a strategic asset - are getting less enamoured with the situation in Israel. American Jews, particularly among the young, are certainly going that way. How much has been squandered on Birthright (I loved the Eretz Nehederet skits on them)?

You are right on another thing. Diaspora Jews should leave Israel to its own devices. It really has nothing to do with us and we should stop seeing everything through an "Is it good for Israel?" prism. It's a debate which has poisoned the atmosphere here and elsewhere - cf, the lead-up to last week's debate on the Grow/Tatzmiach Oxfam tie up. If Israel has chosen to go down the one-state route so be it. It's sad, but so be it.


Rich Armbach

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:31

Rate this:

0 points

which is pretty much in line with Obama's attitude. That is, he doesn't regard it as any part of his job to prevent Bibi from deriving Israel over the edge of the cliff.

POST A COMMENT

You must be logged in to post a comment.

LATEST COMMENTS