August 8, 2009
Dear Amnesty International,
We, members of the Bil'in popular committee against the wall and settlements, have always appreciated Amnesty International’s role in the defense of human rights around the world and have recognized you as partners in our own struggle to defend our rights. We remember with great pleasure and pride your December, 2006 visit to our village to witness one of our protests. For these reasons we were surprised and deeply disturbed to learn that Amnesty International is sponsoring Leonard Cohen’s upcoming concert in Israel.
We were disturbed not only because supporting Cohen’s concert works against the wide grassroots Palestinian nonviolent initiative calling for the cultural boycott of Israel until it adheres to its obligations under international law, but because Amnesty’s support for the concert hurts us in Bil’in personally and directly.
Leonard Cohen’s concert, that Amnesty is sponsoring, is being handled by Israel Discount Bank. Israel Discount Bank’s trading room and other computer services are run by an Israeli company called Matrix IT. Matrix IT’s trading room is located on our villages land stolen by the illegal settlement of Modiin Illit (http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=633). Israel Discount Bank has also financed the similar construction of some of the building projects in the settlements of Har Homa, Beitar Illit and Ma'ale Adumim. Additionally, the Discount Bank is the second major shareholder of Mul-T-Lock, whose factory is located in industrial zone of Barkan, another illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank (http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=558).
We are sure that you and Amnesty International were not aware of these facts. Otherwise we are confident that Amnesty would not be involved in supporting an endeavor that profits directly from the abuse of our rights. We are confident that now that this was brought to your attention you will withdraw Amnesty’s support. Furthermore, we encourage Amnesty to examine more closely any project that you plan to support in Israel in the future because, unfortunately, the Israeli economy as a whole is currently benefiting from the abuse of Palestinian rights..
In Bil’in we are currently facing a new wave of oppression against our popular campaign against the Wall and settlement built on our land. The Israeli occupation forces are frequently raiding our village at night and abducting people, mostly children, from their homes. The members of our committee are being targeted. Currently two leading non violent activists and organizers Mohammed Khatib and Adib Abu Rahme, along with seventeen other Bil’in residents, are imprisoned by the Israeli military. We are counting on your continued support for our struggle and are certain that you will not allow Amnesty International to lend its support to the violations of our rights.
The Bil’in Popular Committee