Mamma Mia! Playing in Apartheid Israel?! An open letter from PACBI to the creators and cast of Mamma Mia!
Israel’s military occupation -- the longest in modern history -- is not an abstract notion to us. It manifests itself in wilful killings of civilians, particularly children; wanton demolition of homes and property; uprooting of more than a million trees; incessant theft of land and water resources; denial of freedom of movement to millions; and cutting up the occupied Palestinian territory into Bantustans, some entirely caged by walls, fences and hundreds of roadblocks. Sixty years since the Nakba, Israel’s planned campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people, and 40 years into its occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territory, Israel has consistently and relentlessly violated basic human rights and relevant precepts of international law with utter impunity. In the last year alone, Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon and its relentless indiscriminate attacks on Gaza have caused close to two thousand civilian deaths, not to mention massive destruction to infrastructure and decimation of entire residential neighbourhoods.
In light of the above, performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era. Indeed, Israel has created a worse system of apartheid than anything that ever existed in South Africa, according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Prof. John Dugard, and South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils, among others.
The resounding failure of the international community to date in ending Israel’s occupation, its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens, and its obdurate denial of refugee rights was what prompted Palestinians to appeal to international civil society to bear its moral responsibility to put an end to injustice, just as it did against apartheid South Africa. To this end, Palestinian civil society has called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)  against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes the fundamental human rights of the people of Palestine. A specific call for cultural boycott of Israel  was issued last year, garnering wide support. Among the many groups and institutions that have heeded the Palestinian boycott calls and started to consider or apply diverse forms of effective pressure on Israel are the British University and College Union (UCU); the Church of England; the Presbyterian Church (USA); prominent British architects; the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ); the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the South African Council of Churches; the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario; Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists; celebrated authors, artists and intellectuals led by John Berger; and Palme d’Or winner director Ken Loach. We strongly urge you to uphold the values of freedom, equality and justice for all by joining this growing boycott against Israel.