Israel/Palestine

Message for Macca

Mira Vogel has written to Sir Thumbs-Aloft:

Dear Paul McCartney,

I read this morning that you intend to perform in Israel. This means that before too long you’ll receive a polite but toxic personalised letter from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott, known as PACBI. It will tell you that Palestinian society has overwhelmingly called for a boycott of Israel, make a lot of other unsubstantiated claims, and ultimately demand that you cancel your performance.

In case it is not already clear, PACBI is a menace to peacemakers and the clearest example of this menace (and there are numerous others) is their sabotage of OneVoice’s peace concerts in 2007, which I’ll briefly explain.

OneVoice is a unique grass-roots peace movement run by tireless and brave young people in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, with an international network of supporters many of whom are likely to be your fans. Its activists carry out parallel work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (including Gaza) to strengthen the elected negotiators to end the occupation and set up the long overdue Palestinian state. They want to stand by these negotiators while they arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement – anybody who has been following the conflict realises that the negotiators need all the support they can get against their respective extremists.

Last year OneVoice organised enormous and simultaneous concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho. Israelis and Palestinians would share the moment with each other and jointly call on their leaders and the combatants to end violence and negotiate a settlement. Instead of supporting this, PACBI began a campaign against the concerts. PACBI told Palestinians that to attend would amount to collaboration with the enemy, and falsely accused OneVoice of signing away Palestinian land. This led to threats of violence against the Palestinian OneVoice office. In the end PACBI’s hard work paid off – it managed to get the concerts cancelled.

This chilling act of sabotage made three things clear. The first is that PACBI doesn’t stand for peace – it stands for continuing the conflict. The second is that PACBI, in seeking to undermine negotiations, hopes that Israel will cease to exist, even though the antisemitism which organisations like Hamas and Hesbollah actively spread in the region makes it impossible that five million Israeli Jews without self-determination would be able to exist unharassed. The third thing it makes clear is that PACBI doesn’t stand for the Palestinian people, most of whom hope for peace in the form of a two state solution.

It’s true that life is intolerably limited for Palestinians and that the conflict has taken an enormous toll on Palestinian society, and it is important that the world attends to this. Israel has much to answer for in its treatment of Palestinians. But PACBI gets it wrong – Israel is not the same as South Africa, it is involved in a conflict which is far more complicated than PACBI’s simple one-sided narrative insists, and boycott is not a solution.

Responsibility for peace – ending the occupation and setting up the Palestinian state according to existing peace plans – lies with the people who can put an end to the violence. We must stand by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. They need support every step of the way because there are many Israeli and Palestinian organisations who want peace to fail – PACBI, assuming the mantle of Palestinian national interests, is one of these.

It’s impossible to both support this social boycott and support peace. One way to take a stand against organisations like PACBI is to support OneVoice. Support for OneVoice is support for a negotiated, mutual, lasting peace. Maybe you could even use your concert to call on people to give their support to OneVoice’s One Million Voices movement, to sign the OneVoice Mandate to bring their respective elected negotiators back to the table, and to keep them there. OneVoice is trying to get one million sign-ups before 12th December 2008. You can be confident in OneVoice – at time of writing it has the support of 331,233 Israelis, 295,206 Palestinians and 18,901 International Supporters – and counting. Their mandate:

We demand in one voice that our elected representatives work to achieve the following demands:

  • Recognize the right of both peoples to independence, sovereignty, freedom, justice, dignity, respect, national security, personal safety, and economic viability;
  • Implement concrete confidence-building measures that will improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli people, including ensuring freedom of movement for ordinary civilians and fostering education against incitement on both sides;
  • Immediately commence uninterrupted negotiations until reaching an agreement, within the timeframe of one year, for a Two-State Solution, fulfilling the consistent will of the overwhelming majority of both populations.

With responsibility and upon my honor, I pledge to accept the above guidelines, and will submit my vote.

I hope you enjoy playing Israel.

Mira Vogel

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