In response to this letter
Dear DJ Tiesto,
It is with great enthusiasm that Artists 4 Israel is writing to you after learning that you plan on touring in Israel (July 2nd), prior to heading to Lebanon (July 3rd). Artists 4 Israel’s motto is that we support art, not propaganda, and as such, we are thrilled that you will get the chance to render an informed and honest opinion about the Middle East, while playing to diverse audiences who will be united in their love of music and dance. Most recently, artists as diverse as Elton John to Evgeny Kissin have played to sold-out shows in Israel.
Unlike our counterparts in the BDS campaign, who use lies and misinformation to prevent the sharing of music and joy, we encourage you to visit both Israel and Lebanon. We are confident that you will make a personal determination about Israel’s efforts for peace in the region and the Lebanese failure to serve as a peace partner. We also believe that you will find great pleasure in the Israeli and Lebanese people and question the terrorist rulers of Lebanon that have forced pain and conflict against the innocent civilians of both countries.
Artists 4 Israel supports the arts and does not believe any music should be censored or banned. The BDS is not a supporter of the arts and if their work to make you cancel your performance follows their usual pattern, it is the first in a campaign that will seek to censor your art. Art should transcend or seek to understand the world. You can only do that by gathering information, not by restricting it. How can any group ask you to limit what you see and experience?
Perhaps they seek to keep you under-informed as it would prevent you from recognizing the lies and misinformation presented in their letter. Please read below for factual information that debunks the BDS’ letter’s bogus claims.
Peace will come to the region when Israel’s neighbors come to grips with its permanence. Boycotting Israel is explicit support for a nihilistic movement bent on Israel’s demise. We hope you choose to visit Israel where you’ll meet all kinds of Israelis, artists and non-artists, as well as all races, ethnicities and people with all political beliefs, sexual preferences and ideas, living together peacefully.
Artists 4 Israel
The letter labels Israel's naval blockade of Hamas-run Gaza as illegal. Actually, not only does international law allow for Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza, it requires it. UN Security Council Res. 1373 is binding, and requires states to deny any support to terrorist entities. Hamas, recognized worldwide as such, rules over Gaza and continues to fire rockets and mortars into Israeli towns. Hamas also brainwashes children to hate Israelis then conscripts them into a ruthless war against Israel.
Whether they kill Israelis or are killed when Israel takes preventive action, the body count rises. This death calculus is what Hamas’ leaders rely on to demonize Israel.
This ideology of martyrdom is important in understanding the Gaza flotilla incident, referred to as a “bloodbath”. There’s plenty of evidence showing that this group of ships was not a simple humanitarian convoy. Five of the six ships were, in accordance with legal, international conventions, searched for weapons and their aid allowed to reach Gaza.
The sixth ship was loaded with armed mercenaries, hired by the Turkish government, to attack Israeli forces, whose offers to peacefully bring the ship into Israeli port were rejected. That these mercenaries had a death wish was made clear by video interviews, which included the passengers’ sing-along to a song “Death to the Jews!” As an artist, you are familiar that such a song does not further peaceful dialogue.
Further, the letter’s timeline of supposed Israeli transgressions ignores important contextual information as well as important information regarding Lebanese cruelty against Israel and its own citizens. The timeline begins in 1948 but fails to mention that in late 1947, the Arab leadership throughout the Middle East rejected the UN plan to create separate Jewish and Arab states, and threatened the Jewish community in Israel with a “war of extermination” if it declared independence.
Israel, half the size of New Jersey and with a mostly civilian army, declared its independence on May 14, 1948. Artists 4 Israel believes in the rights of all states to exist in peace and security. Lebanon must not.
1948: Lebanon (with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) invaded Israel after Israel declared independence from the British Empire. There is a call within the Arab League to wipe out the new state before it forms, and commit a genocide of Jews a mere three years after the Holocaust. Israel wins this war and a genocide is prevented. Upon being told by their leadership to leave, Arabs flee Israel for mostly Jordan and Lebanon, where they are treated as second class citizens to this very day. In response to Israel’s victory, 800,000 Sephardic/Mizrahi Jews are forced from their homes in the Arab world, and receive citizenship and full rights in Israel.
The letter states that 400,000 refugees in Lebanon are deprived the right to return to what was once their homes in pre-1948 Israel. First, these are mostly descendants of the refugees from the ’48 war, who mostly fled Israel at the behest of their own leaders.
“Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the UN to resolve on their return.”
-- In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948-49
The plight of these refugees is important to learn, and should be a window into why Israel’s neighbors are not looking for compromise, but for victory. These refugees living in Lebanon are not allowed to become Lebanese citizens, are not allowed to lead normal lives and must remain dependent on international aid. In short, they are used as the ultimate pawns, as a means to maintain a state of war against Israel. Artists 4 Israel asks the Lebanese government to prove their support for these citizens and allow them to integrate into Lebanese society and government.
1949: Over 6,000 Israelis – 1% of its population – were killed as Israel pushed back the invading armies and forced the Arab states into cease-fires. One of these states was Lebanon, which before and during the war, used towns along its border with Israel to serve as military bases. These strategic border towns, slyly referred to in the letter as being “occupied and annexed” by Israel, were actually held onto by Israel to protect against aggression by Lebanon, which remains in a state of war against Israel. Israel continues to seek peace with Lebanon, offering to exchange these buffer villages in exchange for a true peace with Lebanon. Lebanon has refused every single Israeli peace offer.
1967: The Arab League repeatedly calls for the Jews to be “swept into the sea,” and, in violation of UN rules, Egypt sends its troops amassed into the Sinai at the Israeli border, at the same time that Syrian troops fire down upon Jewish farmers in the north of Israel, using the high grounds of the Golan Heights. Israel prevents another attempted genocide, and wins land in the Six Day War that it immediately offered back to the Arab League, in exchange for peace and recognition. Lebanon joined in a declaration stating: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiation.”
1969: Due to major Arab political pressure, the Cairo Agreement brokered by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1969, the Lebanese were forced to allow a foreign force (the PLO) to conduct military operations against Israel from inside their own territory. The PLO effectively gained control over the refugee camps in Lebanon and formed a “state within a state.” Palestinians in Lebanon remain in refugee camps and are prevented from having citizenship, and are banned from many professions.
1970: Displaced Jordanians known as Palestinians attempt to assassinate King Hussein of Jordan. In response, the Jordanian king kills about 5,000 Palestinians in Jordan, and expels the PLO from the country. The leadership of the PLO moves to Beirut, Lebanon.
1970s: Various cross-border raids between Lebanon and Israel, including rockets attacks. The PLO also killed numerous Shia Lebanese citizens.
The pattern was clear: the Arab state lost the wars they started against Israel, and invariably lost land in the process, held onto by Israel as a bargaining chip. Arab regimes claimed then, as they do now, that all Israel needs to do for peace is return these lands.
1978: The Coastal Road Massacre was the hijacking of an Israeli bus by a group led by Abu Jihad, that killed 38 civilians. In response, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked the training camps in Lebanon that sent Abu Jihad's group and others like them.
An IDF spokesperson stated: “The objective of the operation is not retaliation for the terrorists' crimes, for there can be no retaliation for the murder of innocent men, women and children - but to protect the state of Israel and its citizens from incursions of members of the Fatah and PLO, who use Lebanese territory in order to attack citizens of Israel.” This is known as Operation Litani, which was the river wherein Israel established a security zone.
1979: Samir Kuntar and a group of PLF terrorists attack Israel by boat. One group of four killed a policeman, Eliyahu Shahar, who came across them. Another group broke into the apartment of the Haran family and took Danny Haran hostage along with his four year-old daughter, Einat. Kuntar killed the father at point blank range in front of the daughter, so that was the last thing she witnessed on earth. Then he smashed her head with the butt of his rifle and killed her. After capture, and time in an Israeli prison, Kuntar was released in 2008 in exchange for the mutilated (dead) bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured Israeli soldiers. Arriving in Lebanon in 2008 Kuntar was greeted as a national hero.
1982: After a ‘cease-fire’ from Operation Litani, which the PLO repeatedly broke, the Abu Nidal organization attempted to assassinate Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov. In response, Israel invaded Lebanon in order to formally stop the PLO from both terrorizing Israel, as well as terrorizing the Maronite Christians who were being raped, tortured, and killed in Lebanon, in what by this time had become an open civil war between Maronites, Druze, Sunni, and Shia Lebanese. During the Lebanese Civil War, the leader of the Maronites, Bachir Gemayel, is assassinated. The Christian Phalangist Militias attack the Sabra and Shatilla camps, which were under the auspices of the PLO. Later on (1985-86), in what was known as the “War of the Camps,” Amal (a Shia Lebanese group) killed thousands of Displaced Jordanians in Lebanon, and the world ignored this suffering.
1983: Hizballah, a radical Islamic organization, funded and armed by Iran, bombs the US Marine barracks in Beirut. The US Marines were a peacekeeping force, sent to prevent a further escalation of the Lebanese Civil War.
1994: Hizballah bombs the Jewish Community Center and Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing hundreds of civilians.
2000: Israel leaves 100% of Lebanon, as certified by the UN. Rocket attacks on Israel increase in response, and Hizballah arms itself in violation of the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, and in violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
2005: Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, is assassinated, ostensibly by Syrian forces. In response, there is a “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon, which kicks the Syrians out of Lebanon. No one has had to pay for Hariri’s assassination to this very day, and the wife of one of the men reportedly responsible is setting sail on a “flotilla” to Israel as of the publication of this letter.
2006: Hizballah kidnaps Israeli soldiers located within sovereign Israel, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Hizballah begins shelling Northern Israel, and in response, Israel starts what is known as the “Second Lebanon War,” in order to protect Northern Israel from rockets, as well as to weaken Hizballah. Ultimately, Regev and Goldwasser’s bodies were returned, mangled beyond recognition. The war ends with UN Resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of Hizballah and multi-national troops to ensure that Hizballah is disarmed. Hizballah has not adhered to this resolution, and multi-national troops are known to openly allow Hizballah to operate. Since 2006, numerous “Cedar Revolution” politicians have been assassinated by Syrian-linked groups.
Present day: Hizballah operates with impunity in Southern Lebanon, which has been almost completely cleansed of Christians. Moreover, since the start of the Lebanese Civil War, Lebanon no longer has any Jews living openly in the country, with historic synagogues and gravesites in ruins. Hizballah presently fights U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and receives its weaponry and funding from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is known to shoot its citizens in the street. Civilians in Southern Lebanon must adhere to the strict rules of Hizballah. Hizballah has a television station, al-Manar TV, which is known to broadcast hate education. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah, and still at large, famously stated: “If all Jews were to gather in Israel, that would save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” This group, Hizballah, is affiliated with those behind the kidnapping and murder of Lebanese civilians.
In 2010, more than sixty years after the foundation of the State of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Displaced Jordanians live in Lebanon as second-class citizens, in ghettos and concentration camps. Artists 4 Israel supports the right of people around the world to live in freedom, and we hope, through your trip to Lebanon, that you will be able to use your talent and artistry to support the rights of Israelis, Arabs, and Lebanese to live in safety and security.
We are grateful for your thoughtful consideration of this appeal to reason.
Artists 4 Israel