Don’t let Armatrading play us as supporters of Israeli racism and apartheid


by Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid

Joan Armatrading’s statement posted on her homepage calling on leaders of Israel and Palestine, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal, to “take that step” to solve “the problem” is a backwards way of acknowledging protests of her recent concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. When she plays San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts on Tuesday, Aug. 10, we want her to know that to flagrantly disregard the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott is to take a stand with racism and apartheid.

Principled musicians and artists are taking their stand with Palestinian people: Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Sting, Bono, Snoop Dogg, Carlos Santana, Klaxons, Gorillaz and the Pixies all declined offers by Israel to play there. A growing number of distinguished people, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and writers and artists such as Arundhati Roy, Alice Walker, John Berger, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach and Naomi Klein, are publicly supporting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Armatrading played just days after Israeli commandos murdered at least nine unarmed human rights activists on the Free Gaza Flotilla and wounded many others. Hundreds of thousands worldwide have been protesting against this shameless brutality.

Those of us who know what it’s like to have suffered racism have an even greater responsibility to demonstrate support and compassion for other people of color whose lives are on the line. In 2005, a united call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations (

Cultural boycott ( is an essential component of that call. As it states on the BDS Movement website: “By refusing to participate in cultural exchange, artists and cultural institutions globally can send a clear message to Israel that their occupation and discrimination against Palestinians is unacceptable.”

According to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Joan Armatrading performed in an amphitheatre located in a park that was a 1940s training camp of the Irgun, a Zionist terrorist force that perpetrated the 1948 ethnic cleansing, resulting in the forcible displacement of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian population from their own homes, villages, homeland.

Today these refugees, the largest refugee population in the world, are being denied the right to return to the homes from which they were expelled. Ethnic cleansing continues to this day, including in the current expulsions of Palestinian people (Bedouin) from the Negev and from the Galilee and Jerusalem, including last week’s destruction of the village of Al Farisyie in the Jordan valley by Israeli armed forces.

We must stand against Israeli apartheid: the bantustanization of Palestine, the brutal pass laws, ID cards and check points, compelling Jewish-Muslim couples and their children to live apart, Jewish-only roads, Jewish-only settlements; the Apartheid Wall tearing families and communities apart and separating farmers from their land; the theft of houses, land, water and other resources; and the denial of legal rights, including the use of torture of those in “administrative detention” and of “extra-judicial killing” – that is, death squads.

And we cannot forget the bombing of Gaza. All of us shared a desperate outrage at Israel’s use of F-16s, drones, white phosphorous and depleted uranium; its murder of 1,400 people and the wounding and maiming of thousands more, including hundreds of children and others who were unarmed or holding white flags; its bombing of schools and hospitals; its decimation of animal and bird life; and its poisoning of water and air – poisoning life itself.

We are calling on everyone concerned with justice to write, call, leaflet and otherwise demonstrate to Joan Armatrading, who wrote a tribute to and performed for Nelson Mandela, that she can’t play us. Protests have already taken place in Scotland, in Bradford (UK) and in Virginia at her first gigs following her visit to Israel. Help us send a message to Joan Armatrading. Show her and other would-be Israeli apologists that they can’t hide.

Write to Joan Armatrading at or Write to her record label at or and phone them at (310) 451-0451 in Santa Monica.

Contact Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, through Nell Myhand at


  1. shame you have no clue and lower yourself to anti Semitism.
    best to support the controllers of Gaza named Hamas, a known terrorist organisation and ignore the facts.

  2. Vin, can you provide some 'clues' or 'facts' to support your charge, or are you just one of those types that instantly labels anyone who disagrees with the Israeli governments policy, as 'anti-semetic'? Keep playing that card until it no longer has any meaning..

  3. shame on joan for supporting israel which as far as their policies towards eradicating the palestian population is like that of the nazis. they drove out the jews from thier homes and hunted them down killing men women and children can vin here say that israel is any different because they seemed to be using those tactics today in palestine and if any body opposes their cruel methods they play the anti-semitic card very time. also what about the orthodox jews who apposed to what israel is doing and who siding with the palestians are they anti-semitic aswell?

  4. Labels of anti-semitism against peace activists are ludicrous and even back-firing against Israel's occupation lobby. People who even oppose BDS on principle are appalled by obscene use of "anti-semitic" card. Israeli writer Bradley Burtson, who opposes BDS in principle, honors Olympia Food Co-Op for showing a balanced approach by including a statement against anti-semitism. Pro-Israel organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL) receives his pointed attack for its "irrational" siege mentality.

    “Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” (ADL National Director Abraham) Foxman, himself a survivor, told The New York Times.

    "Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, 'Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.'"

    There is something at once refreshing and destructive about Foxman's words. Refreshing, in the sense that this sounds like unfiltered honesty. Destructive, in the sense that this is precisely the rationale under which many on the left have justified or excused non-progressive, at times overtly bigoted, statements and actions by militant Palestinians."

  5. the article is just wrong and talk about racism when labeling israel as a different race than palestinians
    you just show how shallow and stupid you are they are both semite and within israel people come in all shapes and colors some look arab some look european and some even black and all are jews and by the way the flotilla was a violent provocation israeli soldiers boarded the ship with paintball guns at first and before even communicating with the "travelers" they were attacked with knives and other weapons by mobs of people. youre ignorant and you are the who is racist towards others

    • Jack, you're a flat-out lying pretender when you weren't there and your words are anti-Muslim racist, glorifying Israel's cold-blooded murder of nine innocent Turkish humanitarian workers, one of them an 18-year-old American who had hoped to be a doctor. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was 700 trained humanitarians and nonviolent human rights workers taking thousands of tons of urgently needed aid materials which Israel has blocked from entry into Gaza. Every human rights organization on Earth, from the International Committee of the Red Cross to Amnesty International has documented how brutal and criminal — inhumane and illegal — Israel's blockade of collective punishment against the e1.5 million people of Gaza is. Israel bombed all Gaza's water treatment facilities — a war crime — as well as dozens of mosques and thousands of civilian homes — more war crimes — and now virtually all the children of Gaza are being slowly poisoned from contaminated water.

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