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APPEAL TO CATALONIAN CIVIL SOCIETY AND INSTITUTIONS: Do not invite Israeli cultural ambassadors to the Catalonian Diada!

September 7, 2009



The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) [1] salutes Catalonian citizens, Government and Parliament on the eve of Diada, the September 11th Catalonian National day. While you remember the bravery of the citizens of Catalonia and Aragon in resisting the absolutist Bourbon monarchy and commemorate the 1714 siege of Barcelona, we urge you not to invite cultural ambassadors of Israel who defend and justify its own criminal siege of Gaza, which was described by Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, as a “crime against humanity” and a “prelude to genocide.” 

On the occasion of such an important historic day for your country, we strongly appeal to you to cancel the announced participation of the Israeli singer, Noa, in the official concert to be held next September 11th. Without any sense of irony, Noa is expected to perform "El cant dels ocells," written by the marvelous Catalonian musician Pau Casals and performed originally on the occasion of Casals receiving the U.N. Peace medal in 1971. Pau Casals then said:

I have not played the cello in public for many years, but I feel that the time has come to play again. I am going to play a melody from Catalan folklore: El cant dels ocells. Birds sing when they are in the sky, they sing: ‘Peace, Peace, Peace,’ and it is a melody that Bach, Beethoven and all the greats would have admired and loved. What is more, it is born in the soul of my people, Catalonia. [2] 

The spirit of freedom and human dignity that Casals so eloquently expresses is the exact negation of the war crimes that Noa and other complicit Israeli artists have defended and justified.

In an intense exchange of letters between Noa and the Catalonian peace movement, Aturem la Guerra, she revealed her complicity in defending Israel’s war of aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in occupied Gaza. [3] Noa publicly defended Israel’s massacre in Gaza, as Israeli forces were indiscriminately bombing Gaza, partially or completely destroying schools, hospitals, ambulances and thousands of civilian homes, showering UN shelters and densely populated neighborhoods with phosphorous bombs and murdering more than 1400 Palestinians, predominantly civilians, in what were described by a host of international human rights organizations and prominent legal experts as crimes of war. [4] Addressing the Palestinians in Gaza, Noa wrote: 

I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally rid you of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas. And that these killers will find what little compassion may still exist in their hearts and STOP using you and your children as human shields for their cowardice and crimes. [5] 

When asking you to disinvite Noa, we are not calling for a boycott of individuals per se but of self-declared cultural ambassadors of a colonial and apartheid regime. After Israel’s image around the world was severely tarnished due to its crimes in Gaza, Israel launched a “Brand Israel” campaign to whitewash its grave violations of international law and promote a deceptive image of Israel as an “enlightened” and liberal country, not a colonial oppressor. Israeli foreign ministry’s deputy director general for cultural affairs revealed last March, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits. This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” [6] No matter what the intentions may be, inviting Noa to sing on the Catalan National day would amount to colluding in this “Brand Israel” campaign. 

The recently published PACBI Guidelines for Applying the International Cultural Boycott of Israel states: 

While an individual’s freedom of expression, particularly artistic expression, should be fully and consistently respected in this context, an individual artist may be boycotted in response to what is widely perceived as a particularly offensive act or statement (such as direct or indirect incitement to violence; justification -- an indirect form of advocacy -- of war crimes and other grave violations of international law.  At this level, Israeli cultural workers should not be automatically exempted from due criticism or any lawful form of protest, including boycott; they should be treated like all other offenders in the same category, not better or worse. [7]

Noa should be treated like any international artist who defends war crimes – by being boycotted. 

Acknowledging and deeply appreciating the solidarity that Catalonian civil society has shown with the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for freedom and justice in past years, PACBI urges people of conscience in Catalonia to uphold human rights and join the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to end its criminal impunity. As Father Miguel D´Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, said:

Twenty years ago we played a major role when following civil society and decided it was necessary to apply sanctions to put a nonviolent pressure against South Africa. Today we shall follow the example of a new generation of our civil society that is calling to a similar nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to put pressure on Israel. [8]

We believe that Catalonia can play an important role in developing non-violent, effective mechanisms to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law, as was done against the apartheid regime in South Africa. We sincerely hope that Catalonia will honor its solid commitment to human rights by declining to host any Israeli cultural ambassador. 


[3] See: Aturem la guerra,, and Noa´s letter about Gaza,,7340,L-3651784,00.html.
[4] Amnesty international:  
Human Rights watch:   
[8] Statement of H.E. Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, President of the United Nations General Assembly, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinan people, 24 November 2008. 

September 7, 2009


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