After performing in Tel Aviv, in defiance of Palestinian appeals not to help Israel use his name to cover up its regime of oppression, Caetano Veloso has now concluded that he will “never go back” to Israel. In an article entitled, “To visit Israel to never go back to Israel”, published on November 8, the prominent Brazilian artist reveals how he reached his decision after seeing the reality of Israel’s occupation and systematic, violent suppression of Palestinian human rights.
Veloso describes how his visit to the Palestinian village of Susiya in the occupied Palestinian territory helped to shed light on the grim reality of living under Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation and colonization. What Veloso heard there from Palestinian villagers being subjected to daily violent attacks by fanatic Israeli settlers, under protection from the Israeli occupation forces, made him reach the conclusion that, “all complaints from BDS [activists] have ground”.
Revealing that “the peace I had believed [to exist] inside Tel Aviv” was all along “fragile, superficial and illusory”, Veloso writes that he now wants real peace, which Palestinians have always argued must be based on justice and full respect for international law. He writes, “But now I want it feeling much closer to the Palestinians than I had ever imagined myself – and further away from Israel than my heart could not even [imagine] just a little more than a year ago”.
Veloso says he consulted with the Palestinian director of “Paradise Now,” Hany Abu-Assad, about BDS appeals to cancel the concert, and his advice was to “heed the BDS demands”.
The views of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the late Israeli scientist and philosopher who was deeply critical of Israel’s occupation and who compared some of its policies not only to those of apartheid South Africa, but also to Nazi practices during World War II, “impressed me the most,” writes Caetano Veloso, “I would have dedicated our concert to his memory”.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which leads the global BDS movement, reacted to Caetano Veloso’s article saying, “We are glad that Caetano is committing not to perform again in Israel. We sincerely hope that all Brazilian and Latin American artists will also heed the cultural boycott of Israel, called for by the absolute majority in Palestinian civil society, including the Palestinian artists”.
“International artists are all welcome to come and see the reality of Israel’s brutal regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid under which Palestinians live and against which they are waging the current wave of popular resistance. But they can do that without crossing the international picket line, without performing in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israeli apartheid and war mongering”.
Earlier this year Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil refused to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv despite wide Brazilian, Palestinian and international appeals. Major figures like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, Brazil’s former Human Rights Minister and UN rapporteur Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, wrote to the Brazilian stars at the time asking them not to do business-as-usual with a state that is committing horrific crimes against the Palestinian people.
In its appeal to Caetano and Gil, the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) wrote, “Your Tropicalia Way stands against racism and for social justice, so do not offer Israel a fig leaf to cover its human rights violations with”.
In his letter to them, Arch. Desmond Tutu wrote, “I have myself witnessed the apartheid reality that Israel has created within its borders and in the occupied Palestinian territory (…) If we cannot, at the very least, heed the appeals of Palestinian society, to refrain from undermining their peaceful resistance and aspirations for a life without oppression, we will be abandoning our moral obligations. In situations of oppression, neutrality means taking the side of the oppressor”.
Roger Waters wrote, “Just as musicians weren’t going to play Sun City, increasingly we’re not going to play Tel Aviv. There is no place today in this world for another racist, apartheid regime”.