AN OPEN LETTER TO NEIL SEDAKA TO BOYCOTT APARTHEID

June 10, 2010 at 19:31

It was announced on the radio today that you have a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv this coming October. I was a bit taken back by these announcements…. for good reason.

We grew up together and lived on the same street in Brighton Beach for many years. My brother was in your class at Lincoln High. Your cousin was in mine. The ‘Knish’ Shop on the boardwalk, owned by your family was one of my favourite places.

I have fond memories of growing up in Brighton, as I am sure you do as well. It was a cultural paradise at the time… you down the street from me, Neil Diamond around the corner, The Tokens just a few blocks away… it was a fun place. Things changed, today English is a fourth or fifth language in the area because of the influx of immigrants from the FSU.

When we were growing up we were taught certain values. We lived in a predominately Jewish Progressive Community. You might remember the mural in our local Bank, The Lincoln Savings Bank. It was a mural of Abraham Lincoln surrounded by freed slaves. We were brought up in an area that stressed Freedom and Human Dignity FOR ALL.

In our school we were taught that Democracy is sacred, that Freedom is sacred. Those are the values we live by today.

Unfortunately Israel, which has been my home for nearly 26 years, does not live by these values. Israel has been/is building a wall of Apartheid to separate Jews from Palestinians.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

Israel has illegally occupied all areas belonging to Palestine for the past 43 years, denying them a chance to live as a free people.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

For the past 63 years Israel has been involved in a Genocide against the civilians of Palestine, a genocide that continues without condemnation.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

I urge you to read THIS LINKED article, written by a very close Palestinian friend of mine. See how things look from ‘the other side of the wall’.

It is left to people like yourself to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only nonviolent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians. Faced with all this and more, Palestinians are calling on all people to support their struggle for their basic rights. Unfortunately, recognizing Palestinian rights will require a fundamental shift in Israeli society. I suspect that this change will be achieved only via external pressure. The least that one can do in such a situation is not act as if it is business as usual.I appeal to you to add your voice to those brave people the world over who boycott Israel. I urge you to cancel your planned performance in Israel.

In Jerusalem there is a Memorial Park to the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem. In the centre of the Park, there is an area dedicated to The Righteous Gentiles, those non Jews that saved Jewish lives during the war. I beg you to consider joining the list of Righteous Jews, those that saved Palestinian lives during this ugly occupation we live in. Join the growing list of Jews that are saying “NOT IN MY NAME!”

I ask you to consider postponing indefinitely your appearance here until your Palestinian fans are as free as your Israeli fans to come and hear you perform in Tel Aviv, as free and equal citizens in their own country. And I urge you to ask your fans everywhere to help bring that day closer by working together for justice for all here.

I hope you can appreciate that by writing this letter I open myself up to outrageous fines, which I would refuse to pay resulting in a prison sentence. That will happen if a proposed Bill against promoting the Boycott against Israel passes in the Knesset,
THIS TOO IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

Israel is NOT the Democracy you might think it is…. far from it.

Sincerely, a voice from your past,
Steve Amsel
Jerusalem

I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living Zero Waste, and reversing the effects of climate change.

Posted in Boycott, Cultural Boycott, Take Action
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