PACBI Statement

Hermeto Pascoal, o Bruxo: do not place your ‘sorcery’ in the service of Israeli apartheid

August 7, 2010

Occupied Ramallah, 7 August 2010


The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is highly disappointed to learn that you are scheduled to perform in Israel on August 23rd/24th, in violation of the appeal of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement [1] which urges people of conscience throughout the world to isolate Israel until it ends its colonial and apartheid oppression against the Palestinian people. We urge you, as a humanist musician known for your commitment to social justice, not to perform in apartheid Israel.  


As an artist who has been known as a shaman who inspires his fellow musicians, we call on you not to associate your creative art with colonisation, oppression and ethnic cleansing. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab population of Palestine have faced the most pernicious forms of racialized oppression; hundreds of thousands have been forced out of their homes and lands, while four million continue to live under a brutal military occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and a life-endangering siege in Gaza, while the world has silently stood by and watched. As the global BDS movement gains ground, and as prominent artists join our struggle, (most recently progressive artist Gill Scott-Heron as well as Elvis Costello cancelled their performances in Israel), we urge you not to ignore the realities of Israel’s policies and to add your voice to these ethically responsible artists.


You will be performing in Israel almost a year and half after its bloody military onslaught against the occupied Gaza Strip during which it killed more than 1,440 Palestinians, of whom 431 were children, and injured another 5380.[2] Israel subjected the besieged population of Gaza to three weeks of unrelenting state terror in which it systematically targeted civilian areas through indiscriminate aerial bombardments and missile strikes. The UN Fact Finding Mission, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, described the attacks as deliberately “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population” and called for investigations of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.[3]


As in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, where international solidarity played a central role in bringing down apartheid, we believe that the growing global BDS movement is the most effective way to pressure Israel to comply with international law and recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. Prominent international artists, including Sting, Bono, Snoop Dog, Jean Luc Goddard, Joan Manuel Serrat and Santana have all heeded our call and cancelled performances in Israel.


If you think that instead of boycotting, you prefer to visit Israel and use the performance opportunity to express a view against Israeli injustices, you should know that this is an ill conceived idea. Such a hypothetically courageous stance cannot possibly undo or neutralize the far more substantial harm that will be done if such a performance takes place.  Israel, with its formidable influence in mainstream Western media, cynically uses performances by international artists and musicians to project a false image of normalcy that enables it to maintain its occupation and apartheid.  Ultimately, conscientious artists are expected to heed the appeals of the oppressed as to what they really need from them in the struggle to end injustice and colonial oppression. 


South African Nobel Laureate and celebrated anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu remarked that “the end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure-- in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s…a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.” He concluded that “if apartheid ended, so can this occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined.” [4]


We urge you to heed the words of Archbishop Tutu, and to honor the Palestinian Call, which has been endorsed by a majority of Palestinian civil society. Your performance in Israel would be tantamount to having performed in Sun City during South Africa’s Apartheid era, in violation of the international boycott unanimously endorsed by the oppressed South Africans.








[2] “Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.” General Assembly, A/HRC/12/48, 25 September 2009.




August 7, 2010


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