Dear Gil Scott-Heron,
The undersigned artists and organizations would like to commend your principled stance on Israeli apartheid.
By announcing the cancellation of your scheduled performance in Israel, you join the growing ranks of artists of conscience in solidarity with Palestinian civil society. As you recognized in your iconic anti-Apartheid anthem “Johannesburg,” when “brothers over there are defyin’ the man…they need to know we’re on their side.”
We understand that there may be some pressure to reverse your stand and play Tel Aviv. We would like to emphasize the legal and moral reasons why we are urging you to hold fast to your decision.
By performing in Israel you would violate the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel—a call supported by stalwart anti-racist activists around the world, from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Alice Walker. As Bishop Tutu noted:
I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”