The following is a blog entry that risks making waves. However, I wanted to share a debate that was important to us.
For some time now, artists invited to play a concert in Israel are routinely accosted by organizations urging them not to travel there, nor to support the Israeli government and its politics.
They claim that Israel is an Apartheid state and a colonial power committing war crimes against Palestinians.
It's obvious why the debate concerning this region of the world, so long embroiled in a violent and unending war, would be extremely lively and complex. Culture seems to be an issue today, perhaps even a new battlefield, in this very sad conflict.
For the last several days, two jazz artists, Erik Truffaz and Jack Terrasson have been swept into a fierce controversy, a furious and passionate debate on Facebook and other social networks and websites regarding their participation at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel this month. These artists are renowned and recognized for their talent, their humanity, their very open-minded approach, their pacifism and their generosity.
Here then, in this blog entry, is our position regarding this debate. We state it in view of pulling ourselves out of this difficult controversy and averting the pitfalls of oversimplification, blindness, manipulation and intolerance.
First, for context, some background information.
On December 12, 2012, we finalized a contract with the organizers of the Red Sea Jazz Festival to have Jacky Terrasson perform two concerts there.
On January 2, we received a letter from BDS France (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) asking us to boycott this concert. Here is the letter:
[BDS Letter] - not included in this translation
At the same time, RTS (Swiss Radio) was going to broadcast a live debate that Sunday evening on the issue of Erik Truffaz's appearance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival (the producer having contacted us over the weekend, but we were unavailable to take part in the debate). We noticed that Erik and Jacky's Facebook pages were overrun with intimidating comments, not from our fans, but from activists. Some of these comments are really obnoxious, rising to the level of sheer harassment and blatant denigration. Facebook has become a battleground for BDS campaigners, our fans, Israelis and those supporting Israel. How sad!
On January 7, we received a new message from BDS, this time via email. This message was more insistent. It branded the festival as having a "stamp of shame." Here is the email:
Mail BDS [translation not included]