File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2001/postcolonial.0107, message 28

Subject: Red Hot Chili Pepper fans
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 01:53:16 -0400

Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers fans...

   by Nigel Parry

   Nigel Parry worked at Birzeit University between 1994 and 1998. His 
   from the time, A Personal Diary of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict, 
   at, documented the post-Oslo experience of
   Palestinians in the Ramallah area. He is also one of the founders of,"a resource for countering myth, distortion, and 
   from the Israeli media war machine."

   The following e-mail was sent out on 6 July 2001 to several
   Red Hot Chili Peppers mailing lists, and posted on several
   bulletin boards relating to the band. The best way to raise an
   issue outside of the usual audience remains... raising the
   issue outside the usual audience. A protest address is
   included for those who wish to write their own letters to the

   Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers fans,

   I understand that this message probably isn't the kind you're used to on 
the list, but I
   ask you consider the contents of it thoughtfully.

   All of you will remember that when South Africa was still operating under 
   Apartheid system, bands used to refuse to play there. Sun City, the most 
   venue there, was the subject of at least one protest song.

   Bands wouldn't play there because to do so generated income for the White 
   African system, and implicitly suggested that they didn't really mind 
that a racist
   government had stamped their entry visa. The taxes that were paid on the 
venue by
   the promoters went towards prolonging Apartheid, and the venue -- of 
course -- was
   "for whites only".

   Sadly, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are turning the clock of musical 
conscience back
   by playing in Israel. This venue will similarly be "for Israelis only". 
All 3 million
   Palestinians are prevented by Israel from travelling to Tel Aviv and are 
   under siege in their towns.

   Recent news reports said that the Chili Peppers had decided not to go 
because they
   were worried about the "security situation." When he heard about this, 
Bill Clinton
   rang them and urged them to go, and they changed their mind. They are 
playing on
   August 28 in Tel Aviv:

   Here's the news piece:

        "Clinton has the Red Hot Chili Peppers for Israel"
        The Jerusalem Post, 3 June 2001

        One of the biggest rock bands in the world today was about to cancel
        its planned concert in Tel Aviv, until a former American president
        intervened. That, at least, is according to the Hebrew daily Yediot

        The paper suggests that Red Hot Chili Peppers was considering the
        move because of the security situation.

        Former president Bill Clinton reportedly heard of the plan and
        personally called the band's lead singer Anthony Kiedis to suggest 
        concert go ahead.

        Clinton said the performance would be a vote of confidence in the
        diplomatic process and regional peace.

        As a result, the band will play on.

        The concert is scheduled for Tel Aviv on August 28.

   I have nothing against the band but am writing to you on principle 
because they are
   setting an unacceptable example for the millions of people who love their 
   There is nothing at all wrong with asking them as fans to reconsider this 
tour date on
   the basis of supporting human rights for all.

   Why exactly is their playing in Israel a bad idea?

   The news here gives the impression that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
is some sort of
   war between equal forces, that all Palestinians are terrorists, and that 
poor Israel has
   done all it could to make peace with the Palestinians.

   This is as far from the truth as it could be.

   Palestinians have been living under a military occupation for 34 years. 
If you were
   Palestinian, and under 34 years of age, all you would know is the 
presence of a
   foreign army in and around your towns.

   I had the opportunity to experience what that was like between 1994-1998, 
when I
   lived in the West Bank town of Ramallah and worked at Birzeit University, 
   Harvard or Oxford.

   Life there on the ground was bad news for Joe or Jane Palestinian, who 
you should
   be aware are not any different from Joe or Jane American or Joe or Jane 
   The shocking but banal truth is that the vast majority of Palestinians 
are normal
   people just like you and me, living in an abnormal situation.

   Just as Americans aren't responsible as a whole for the actions of people 
like Timothy
   McVeigh, neither are the Palestinians as a whole responsible for the 
actions of the
   few of them who carry out terrorist acts.

   After the Oslo process began in 1993, the reality is that things got very 
bad on the
   ground for normal people. Very bad. Most human rights violations 
continued or
   worsened. And today, it's even much worse.

   Since 29 September 2000, when the Second Intifada began, Israel has 
killed over
   500 Palestinians, crippled 1,500 more, and seriously injured another 
15,000. Many
   of these are children. About half of these deaths and injuries took place 
out outside of
   clash situations. That means it happened to people in their homes, on the 
way to
   school, in restaurants.

   When I was living there, I regularly attended clashes as an observer and 
   The normal attendee at these were young Palestinians, protesting the 
occupation with
   stones thrown at the foreign army on their own land. The foreign army 
   with live ammunition and the so-called "rubber" bullets (in reality steel 
balls with a
   millimeter of rubber or hard plastic coating) that regularly kill and 

   In every single case I witnessed, at the 30 or so clashes I attended, 
those Palestinians
   that were killed were shot out of stone throwing range, ie. at a distance 
where they
   posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers. In September 1996, soldiers 
danced as they
   shot people dead, giving each other high fives.

   It really was that bad and things are not as they seem on the TV. There's 
a lot of
   reasons for that, and some of the following links will give you an idea 

   Here's another short intro to what really goes on at clashes, a photo 
story from just
   one day in March 1997:

   For more about this, see my online photo diary from the time, A Personal 
Diary of
   the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, found at

   If you want the short version of what's going on now, here's a Flash 

   Today, since the May 22 "unilateral cease-fire" was announced (for which 
the Israelis
   have been unjustifiably commended by countries around the world for 
"keeping") it's
   mind-blowing what's going on on the ground:
   is a day-by-day account of Israeli actions against Palestinians since the 

   As you read it, imagine living there, and being able to do nothing except 
   Israeli activist Jeff Halper, sent out a report yesterday that was 
similarly shocking, a
   report about ethnic cleansing going on away from the camera lenses:

   Finally, here is a recent report from Human Rights Watch (a US 
organisation) for
   those that want a broader overview:

   Back to the Peppers. The letter that follows below is written to the 
Peppers from
   another fan concerned about the Palestinian people, from his heart.


   If any of this makes you think that it's a bad idea for the Peppers to 
play Israel as
   long as Israel continues its repressive military occupation against the 
   people, then write and let them know you're a fan and that this bothers 
you. We used
   to support bands like U2 and Peter Gabriel for taking stands against 
South Africa.
   This should be no different.

   Keep it simple, be polite, ask them to take a stand for human rights 
worldwide, and
   ask them not to support the Israeli state by playing there.

   Correspondence can be sent to Starla Angel, the news director of the 
   Peppers website. Her address is

   Please ask the Chili Peppers to do the right thing. Any concert in a 
country that is
   brutally repressing a civilian population is not just another tour date. 
It's a statement
   that what's going on doesn't really matter that much. And the fates of 
people like you
   and me -- even if they speak a different language and live in another 
part of the world
   -- should matter very much.

   Nigel Parry

        From: Raja Swamy
        Date: Thu Jul 5, 2001 8:14 pm
        Subject: Please do not Play in Israel!!!

        Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers band,

        You are scheduled to play in Israel on August 28, 2001. It was
        revealed that you reconsidered your earlier decision to desist after
        former U.S. President, Bill Clinton intervened on behalf of Israel.

        Consider this:

        You live in a country where you are the minority group. Now the vast
        numbers of the minority group happens to be 'IN' "your country" on
        account of your government having militarily attacked, and 
        occupied their land and lives.

        Imagine this: for 33 years, the minority group faces tanks, 
        soldiers with machine guns, as they walk to school everyday, plant 
        crops, go to work, drink a cup of tea with friends, sing a song in 
        sunset, play soccer with friends, mourn the loss of relatives, 
attend each
        others' weddings, and so on: military occupation that is accompanied 
        constant abuse, physical, and mental abuse, irregardless of whether 
        are a 4 year old boy innocently playing in your home or an 80 year 
        retired farmer, watching the sunset in his backyard.

        Abuse at the hands of soldiers, abuse at the hands of new European
        people who have suddenly appeared in your backyard, in your
        frontyard, in your homes, everywhere, ready to take what is yours 
        generations and generations. The newcomers are spiteful, and covet
        your land; they want to see you and your people dead or gone. The
        soldiers are their buddies; the 'settlers' attack, the soldiers 
'defend' and
        you and your community is reduced, reduced, reduced from homes to
        camps, from smiles to tears, from peace to continuous nightmares, 
        seeing the young tender plants grow in the ancient farms to being
        drowned in seas of blood; 500 Palestinians have been killed by the
        Israeli armed forces since October 2000.

        Palestinians have no army, nothing comparable even in the remotest
        sense to the armed forces of Israel. They use stones, as did little 
        against the giant Goliath; is that violence, or is it violence to 
launch a
        missile from a helicopter against three unarmed elderly ladies 
        for vegetables in the marketplace? The latter happened, and what did
        Israel do? They blamed the Palestinians! Is this for real man?

        You, dear band, represent the culture of youth, rebellious, 
innocent, and
        yet daring; daring to challenge the arbitrary norms and values 
        by the cultures of older generations; it is tyhe rebelliousness that 
        show today, that inspired your parents' generations to overthrow the 
        of segragation. Today, Israel practices the worst form of 
        against Palestinians, whose land it ocupies illegally.

        Did you know, if you are a Palestinian, you have to drive a car with 
        license plates? Did you know, if you are a Palestinian, and get 
        killed or abused by an Israeli, your attacker will get away scot 
free, with
        perhaps a scolding from a judge? On the other hand, did you know 
        if you were an Israeli, and accused a Palestinian of anything, most 
        that Palestinian would be dealt with as if he or she were guilty?

        Did you know, Israel sanctions torture while most countries reject 
        Did you know Israel has young children, (among whom could be many
        of your young fans!), in prison, who are locked up with adult 
        subject to horrendous torture and sexual abuse? For what? For
        throwing stones on an Israeli tank? FOr being Palestinian? For being
        alive? Is this something your conscience can overlook? I doubt it!

        Dear, Red Hot Chili Peppers. What would you have sung about if you
        were Palestinian? Could you hold true to your conscience and still
        perform to entertain a nation that engages in such brutality? Could 
        look into the face of a Palestinian child after doing this and feel 
        about yourselves?

        I think not, dear band. Please reconsider your decision. It will be 
a great
        sign of support for human rights, democracy and the equality of all
        human beings, as you will help bring Israel to account for its 
        cruelty against the Palestinian people.

        If you would like more information on this issue, I would be more 
        happy to point resources to you and share with you facts and 

        I urge you to reconsider your decision to play in Israel. If your 
        insist, then you should insist in playing a solidarity peace concert 
        occpuied Palestinian to a Palestinian audience too! That would be
        something eh!? If not, just imagine, how would it have been if the
        Beatles were made to play in a country where six million people were
        being massacred while German officers and their wives were drinking
        and dancing to 'Its been a hard day's night...' Just imagine!

        P.S. If you want to know of other artists who have boycotted Israel 
        an act of outrage against Israel's human rights violations of 
Palestinians, I
        will be happy to send you the info.


        Raja Harish Swamy
        Manchester, CT
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