March 16, 2006
31 Ruvigny Gardens 16th March 2006
Dear Mr Waters
It was with some surprise that we heard of your intention to play a concert in Tel Aviv, particularly given your known support of a petition against the illegal Separation Wall that Israel is using to seize Palestinian land. We know you have received requests to cancel the concert, but we want to make a slightly different proposal.
European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP) is a federation of Jewish peace groups across ten European countries and with individual contacts in several more. We work to support both Palestinians and Israelis who want to see human rights and rights of national self determination applied equally to all. At present, there exists a situation where the rights of one people are disregarded in favour of the supposed security of another. The only thing that is equal on both sides is the debilitating degree of fear.
This is not a symmetrical conflict. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live under a regime of military repression. Several members of EJJP’s executive committee have recently returned from the Occupied Territories. We saw how the livelihood of Palestinian villagers is directly threatened by an illegal barrier designed to grab land and protect illegal settlements. While the Palestinians used music, children’s games and a variety of non violent tactics to protest the theft of their land, the Israeli army fired tear gas and stun grenades at us. We were lucky, perhaps. Soldiers are given different rules of engagement according to whether protests are attended by Palestinians, Israelis or “internationals.” When an Israeli was shot by the Israeli Army for taking part in a similar protest, the staggering explanation offered was that the soldiers thought he was an Arab.
Under such circumstances, we are asking you to make a stand. If you feel that you want to go ahead with your concert, we most fervently request that you dedicate your performance as being against the illegal occupation and against the Wall. If the promoters do not agree to present the concert in such a way, in the advertising for it, then we believe that you should decline to play. There is a precedent for this. Our Chairman, Dror Feiler is an internationally renowned jazz composer and performer. He is an Israeli who has lived in Sweden since the early 1970s, after refusing illegal orders he was given by Ariel Sharon. he regularly performs in Israel, on the same conditions as we are proposing you insist on.
We sincerely hope that you will recognise that this is not a normal state of affairs. It should not be presented as such and we trust that you will give the strongest consideration to our request. If we can provide any further information to help you in what is clearly a sensitive situation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
For the EJJP Executive Committee