Dear Lady Gaga,
We are queers who are citizens of Israel, who support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). We were unsettled by the news of your plans to perform in Israel again, despite pleads that were already made to you, in 2009, not to do so.
You may be asking yourself what all this means and what it has to do with you. Indeed, you may feel you are being thrust into a situation which you had no interest in entering in the first place. However, we hope that we can show you the situation through our eyes, outline the realities of the grim world you have entered, so you may overcome feelings of disconnect to the people of the region, who have long been invisible in the eyes of the world. We wish to give you the opportunity to choose to make a difference.
We will attempt to explain the situation and our request to you not to perform in Israel, and encourage you to contact us or PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel), if things are still unclear by the end of this letter.
A few paragraphs can’t even begin to express the devastation wreaked on the Palestinian people in the past 63 years. Palestinians are living under a brutal military regime which practices policies of apartheid in what is known as Israel and the Occupied Territories. The army that controls everyday Palestinian life, at the barrel of a gun, is Israel’s army. This means that Palestinians depend on the mercy of this army, controlled by the Israeli government, which has been murdering, maiming, arresting civilians (including children), all the while stealing their lands by extreme and brutal force.
While illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories flourish, under the guise of “natural growth”, Palestinian land is being robbed, homes are being demolished, whole communities left homeless, in the occupied territories as well as inside Israel. Additionally inside Israel; While Palestinians are given a citizen status, there are an abundance of discriminatory laws against them, which disallow the return of indigenous refugees (which is their right, as stipulated by international law), confiscate land at the state’s will, severely infringe political participation, and make a mockery of their right to life (as explained here).
In the midst of all this desperation, however, there’s a long history of Palestinian resistance and in 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, unions and groups, among them LGBT rights groups and women and youth organizations, united in one voice, asking the international community, institutions, states and corporations, to stop cooperating with Israel. Thus the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was born. We stress: If Palestinians had equal rights in Israel and in the occupied territories, under the law of Israel, they would have probably not appealed to the international court and communities.
How is this relevant to you? Much like the appeal made to artists in the 80’s, who considered performing in Sun City, South Africa, we are appealing to you now. In the asymmetry of relations between the growing state of Israel and the shrinking lands of Palestinians, performing in Tel Aviv is a deeply partisan act. The appeal to you, Lady Gaga- as an individual, as an artists and creator of culture, as an influential celebrity- is this: Please do not entertain apartheid! Please remember that a Palestinian queer who is a fan of your music and lives in the occupied West Bank, 20 minutes away, will not be permitted by Israel to come and see you in Tel Aviv, solely based on the fact that they are Palestinian.
We also appeal to you as queers, who are watching the state of Israel commit its crimes against the indigenous of this land, in the name of LGBT rights. This strategy of using LGBT rights is so obvious by now, that it’s been identified and even named. It’s called Pinkwashing and it’s been thoroughly documented. It seems to us a severe and cynical breach of our rights that the state of Israel tries to distract the world with our hard-earned gains, while brutally crushing a people. We ask you not to participate in this cynical attempt to whitewash the blood on the state’s hands. We ask you not to cooperate in hurting queers in the region. We ask you not to perform in Israel until it respects all human rights, queer or straight, Jewish or Palestinian.
Israeli Queers for Palestine