Monthly Archives: December 2012

ELOQUENT PALESTINIAN PLEA THAT MOVED STEVIE WONDER

Media reports from the US have confirmed what was briefly rumoured – legendary pop musician Stevie Wonder has cancelled his performance scheduled for December 6 at a gala in Los Angeles saluting IDF Soldiers.

The 25-time Grammy winner was to appear before an audience of more than 1,000, including dignitaries from the U.S. and Israel.

Stevie WonderPicture: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Stevie Wonder
Picture: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Credit is due to all the activists who mobilised via social media to persuade the great singer to realise his mistake. This eloquent Palestinian plea must have helped move him to change his mind about playing for the benefit of the Israeli war machine:

Dear Stevie,

On a typical cold wintery night, on January 25th 1995, I hobbled on my crutches
with an inflamed and bandaged knee into the aisles of the famous Radio City
Music Hall in New York City. Here I was, a twenty three year old aspiring actor
from Palestine, who despite severely injuring my knee in a basketball game two
days before, was not about to miss what he will for the next eighteen years
claim as  “the best concert”  he ever attended. This was a concert by Stevie
Wonder, the genius whose music had inspired me and whose cassettes, CDs, and now mp3, had kept me company many a time, and who not only sang beautiful melodies with an amazing voice but whose lyrics tackled the whole spectrum of life. From oppression to freedom, from infidelity to the purest love, and from sadness to euphoria, so many of your songs are attached to the milestones of my life.

On that day in 1995, I had waited till the concert had ended and the crowd had
cleared and hopped on my crutches down to the stage door. With a mix of pity for my injury and some persuasion, I had convinced the bodyguards to let me through to meet you. There you were, standing talking to other fans or your crew. Struck by the awe of the moment, I had no idea what to say to you.  “Stevie, my name is Bassem and I am from Palestine”. You had looked towards my direction. I have no idea if you had even heard what I said, but that was my cue to approach you and give you a hug. You hugged me back. That was enough for me: the affirmation that I had a “moment” with you that no one could ever take away from me. Following that moment, I took off my black and white Palestinian kaffiyah, the symbol of struggle, resistance, and freedom for Palestinians, and put it in your hands and said, “This is from the people of Palestine.”  I have relived these moments, alone and with friends, with mostly joy, nostalgia, and sometimes humor. However, there was no doubt, in my mind that you were an artist who understood our world, who sided with the poor, the oppressed, the needy, and the heartbroken. Your music and words were your contribution to make the world a less little cruel.

Until today.

Today I was horrified to hear about your intension to play at the annual gala of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) organization to be held on December 6 in Los Angeles. Today I am living in Palestine and have just lived through the same Israeli Defense Forces, the one you are supporting, killing more than one hundred and thirty of my people in Gaza, many of whom were civilians including children. This army, Stevie, is a tool of oppression and subjugation that has kept me, my family, and my people occupied for over forty five years. Every day, this army is protecting the seizure of more Palestinian land to build illegal Israeli settlement on further denying me my rights as a human being. As I read the news of your upcoming performance, I kept on wondering, how can Stevie even contemplate doing this? There must be a mistake somehow. I searched the internet whether this was a rumor or a hoax.

Unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed. You are supporting occupation,
oppression, destruction, and apartheid.

I have no idea what has led you to this decision. I am writing this open letter
hoping it results in the restoration of the almost perfect image of you and your
art in my mind and my life.

I am urging you to cancel this performance and stand with the values of justice
and peace for all.

At the end of the concert in 1995, the band had stopped playing after over two
hours of music. You were sitting on your piano stool and people were shouting
out the names of songs they still wanted you to play. Then suddenly, for a brief
moment, there ensued an eerily beautiful silence that encompassed that glorious
concert hall. Taking advantage of that, I yelled the name of my favorite song at
that time “Lately”. Without flinching, you turned to the band and said, “You
heard the man!” and the beautiful music had started flowing.

Here’s to hoping you hear me again.

Bassim Nasir

TOP FOOTBALLERS CHALLENGE UEFA TOURNAMENT IN ISRAEL

A statement signed by 52  European football players has dramatically raised the profile of the campaign challenging European football’s governing body UEFA for staging its 2013 under-21 finals in Israel.

KANOUTENews of the statement, published on Friday November 30 on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute (pictured above), was picked up by the Guardian online and then by many other media worldwide (see references below).

The group of UK premier league footballers and players in other major European leagues said that holding Euro 2013 in Israel was tantamount to rewarding it for the assault on Gaza which killed 170 Palestinians in November, including boys playing football. Israeli aerial attacks also destroyed the Palestinian Paralympic Committee offices, along with a stadium and sports complex where the Palestine team prepared for the 2012 Olympics.

The Guardian story explained:

The signatories, who include Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Abou Diaby of Arsenal and five Newcastle players – Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba – also criticised Israel’s continued detention without charge or trial of two Palestinian footballers.

 Several former Premier League players have also signed the letter, including Didier Drogba and Frédéric Kanouté, both of whom now play in China. Players with QPR, Stoke, Blackburn and Ipswich are among the signatories along with footballers in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey.

The statement roundly condemns the Israeli assault on Gaza, describing it as “yet another stain on the world’s conscience” and expresses “solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom”.

It then focuses on the destruction of a football stadium which the Israeli military said had previously been used by Hamas as a rocket launching site but which at the time of the bombing was not.

The statement had originally been signed by 62 players. Ten, including Drogba, dropped out, possibly due to Zionist pressure.

The statement was welcomed by the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign which has been working with activists around Europe to challenge the staging of the U-21 finals in Israel since UEFA announced its decision in early 2011.

Last Tuesday, ahead of the draw for the competition in Tel Aviv, the campaign circulated the text of a statement from a group of public figures including filmmaker Ken Loach saying:  “it is inappropriate for European football’s governing body to be staging international competitions in a country responsible for systematic discrimination against Palestinians.”

Twenty-two British Members of Parliament  have signed a motion (EDM 640) in the House of Commons registering “with profound disapproval . . . that the FA is prepared to participate in the European Under-21 football tournament to be played in Israel in June 2013, even though Israel is geographically not in Europe and is a country which has policies of racial apartheid against Palestinians.”

ACTION:

Call on your MP to sign EDM 640

Sign the petition calling on UEFA to move the Euro 2013 final away from Israel

Links to some of the extensive media coverage:

http://www.agencemediapalestine.fr/blog/2012/12/01/bonne-couverture-mediatique-de-lappel-de-footballeurs-en-soutien-a-gaza/

http://www.tdg.ch/monde/afrique/Les-footballeurs-ne-veulent-pas-d-un-Euro-en-Israel/story/28143281?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.saphirnews.com/Kanoute-Drogba-Menez-Mandanda-Des-stars-du-football-soutiennent-la-Palestine_a15800.html

http://www.insideworldfootball.biz/worldfootball/asia/11647-gaza-conflict-damages-vital-sporting-infrastructure.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/football/article3616788.ece

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/news/9715577/Premier-League-players-call-on-Uefa-to-remove-Israel-as-European-U-21-hosts.html

http://www.france24.com/en/20121130-top-footballers-urge-rethink-israel-venue

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1246310/didier-drogba-among-stars-declaring-support-for-palestine?cc=5739

http://itisallaboutfootball.tumblr.com/post/36899657123/european-football-players-declare-support-to-palestine

http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/freddie-kanoute-is-joined-by-hazard-diaby-papiss-cisse-tiote-demba-ba-in-condemning-plans-to-hold-u21-euros-in-israel/

http://www.twtd.co.uk/ipswich-town-news/21988/ellington-amongst-players-in-israel-protest

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-299857-football-players-stand-in-solidarity-with-palestinians-amid-recent-israeli-aggression.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/sports/soccer/soccer-players-protest-european-under-21-championship-tournament-in-israel.html

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/11/30/footballers-sign-statement-protesting-israel-hosting-euro-u21-tournament-after/

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/football/israel-risky-hosts-for-under-21-euro-championships/story-e6frfg8x-1226527893532

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/30/footballers-u21-european-championship-israel

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/footballers-protest-israel-hosting-uefa-euro-u21

http://www.timesofisrael.com/soccer-players-protest-israel-hosting-uefa-under-21-tournament/