Letter to the Editors of Pitchfork Music Magazine
Mark Richardson, Executive Editor
Ryan Dombal, Senior Editor —
Dear Ryan and Mark,
I have worked in the music industry as an attorney and manager for the past 15 years, and as a fan and regular reader of Pitchfork, I was very disappointed to see your coverage of the Roger Waters and BDS movement led boycott of Israel being faced by Radiohead in your April 24th article written by Matthew Strauss.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a complex issue with a long, complicated, history that has gone through many ups and downs, with wrongs committed by both sides. It is a far too complex an issue to cover in a mere 296 word article on your site or in this email to you. By publishing your article with a byline that read “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over,” you in essence supported the boycott of Israel, and gave credence to the BDS movement, by providing your readership with a drastically one-sided view of events. A splash headline that undoubtedly left a negative impression of Israel on your readers.
As someone who was born in Apartheid South Africa and later fled the country in the early 1980’s due to the government’s atrocious policies, I understand what it means to live under Apartheid. What is happening in the Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza is not Apartheid, far from it. Groups such as the BDS movement use the “Apartheid” label since it immediately conjures images of a racist regime that the world condemned and can quickly rationalize in their mind. These groups use the term because they know it plays into the hands of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda. It’s a calculated marketing ploy, not a factual reality.
In South Africa, a black woman would be arrested for merely having a man in her bedroom in a white neighborhood after dark. In South Africa, blacks were not allowed to be taught in English. In South Africa, blacks held no power in parliament and could not sit on the highest courts as judges. In Israel, it is the exact opposite. Arabs living in Israel can move freely around the country, sleeping wherever and with whomever they like, even after dark. Arabs in Israel and the territories are allowed to be taught in any language they choose and both have access to well regard intuitions of higher learning. In Israel, Arabs are not only members of Parliament, but also sit on the nations Supreme Court. The list goes on and on.
I urge you to also recall that Hamas, a designated terrorist and Islamic Fundamentalist group by America, controls the Gaza Strip after staging a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007. This is after Israel pulled out all its settlements and the settlers from Gaza and handed the territory over to the Palestinians with plans of an airport and giant new seaport. Instead of creating a bastion of peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people in this “occupied” territory, Hamas waged war against its own people, took over and began launching rockets into Israel. This in turn caused Israel and Egypt, an Islamic and Arab country itself, to both carefully control the border crossing to the territory. Egypt does not need Israel’s permission to allow goods, services and people to freely cross back and forth at its border crossing with Gaza, but it limits access precisely because Gaza is controlled by a terrorist group that uses the territory to destabilize the region.
I am not sending you this to argue that Israel has committed no crimes against the Palestinians, but the Palestinians have committed the same against the Jews and Israelis. Such is the nature of a complicated conflict, particularly one that has been raging for more than 100 years. The Palestinians have been offered a full-fledged state on at least three separate occasions (in 1947 by the United Nations, in 2000 by PM Barak and President Bill Clinton and then in 2008 by PM Olmert) and the Palestinians turned it down every time. As Bill Clinton stated in his biography: “Arafat’s rejection of my proposal after Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions.” You can read all about those 2000 peace talks in Bill Clinton’s own words at the link below, and I urge you and your readers to do so:
Once again, as it pertains to your article, you have presented your readers with a biased and one-sided view of a complex issue that will cause further hatred of Israel instead of better understanding of the situation. For instance, just last week the new leader of Hamas in Gaza lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for cutting salaries to workers and cutting energy supply to the Gaza Strip to exert pressure on Hamas, while at the same time stating that they are not seeking a war with Israel. As I said, complicated.
Pitchfork knows as well as anyone, music has the power to heal and to bring people to together. Everyone should champion a group such as Radiohead visiting Israel to help heal through music, playing for Arabs and Jews alike. Because despite what the BDS movement wants you to believe, there will be people of all faiths and nationalities at the show. In fact, on their current US tour, Radiohead has one Jewish and one Arab group opening for them. Instead of condemning a live show by a band like Radiohead and trying to silence music, you should be promoting the exact opposite.
De Novo Music Group