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Egyptian rock-band Birzeit performance 'violates boycott of Israel': Palestinians Open in fullscreen

Karim Traboulsi

Egyptian rock-band Birzeit performance 'violates boycott of Israel': Palestinians

The band's poster for its controversial Palestine concert [Facebook/Massar Egbari]

Date of publication: 3 December, 2016

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An Egyptian rock band is facing calls for boycott by Palestinians for coordinating travel arrangements with Israeli authorities ahead of a performance in the occupied West Bank.

An Egyptian rock band is facing calls for boycott by Palestinians for coordinating travel arrangements with Israeli authorities ahead of a performance in the occupied West Bank.

Compulsory Detour ("Massar Egbari" in Arabic), a four-member group founded in Alexandria in 2005, is set to perform today at the Birzeit University near Ramallah.

Although entering the occupied Palestinian territories requires a "compulsory detour" via the Israeli authorities, some Palestinian students see any Arab contact with Israel as legitimising the occupation.

They called for a boycott of the concert, while others have dismissed this as posturing.

Boycotters used the hashtag #normalizationisnotcompulsory on social media - a play on the band's name - to voice their objection to a move they say promotes normalisation of ties with Israel, said Israeli news site NGR.

Some suggested the band wait to come to the West Bank when an independent Palestinian state is established after the end of Israeli occupation.

On the Facebook concert announcement, Palestinians wrote contradictory comments.

"We hope you reconsider. Please don't come to the occupied territories," wrote Farah Issam.

But Abeer Ayoub disagreed. "Your visit here is not normalisation. The occupation does not gain legitimacy from you. Palestine is not private property... just come," she wrote. 

Massar Egbari, whose mission according to its website is to "poke fun at typical social norms and trends", seems to be going ahead with its plans.

In a message posted on Facebook on Friday, the band shared a picture from the West Bank with the caption "good morning Palestine".

An international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel has also been gaining support in recent years.

Layers of boycott

A comprehensive economic and cultural boycott against Israel has widespread support among Palestinians and Arabs, and any form of collaboration with Israelis is often seen as a taboo for artists, intellectuals and politicians even from countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel such as Egypt and Jordan.

An international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel has also been gaining ground in recent years.

But supporters of BDS are split over whether visiting the occupied Palestinian territories violates the boycott. Many argue that by visiting the territories for events such as the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) - despite having to go through Israeli checkpoints - Arab and international figures can help challenge the illegal occupation and shed light on Israeli practices.

The controversy is much more pronounced when it comes to visiting Israeli territories, referred to by Palestinians and sympathetic Arabs as the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948.

A visit by Lebanon's top Maronite cleric to Israel in 2014 was condemned for flouting the call issued by the majority of Palestinian civil society organisations for a boycott of Israel by BDS activists at the time. A visit by Egypt's Coptic pope also stirred similar reactions.

Making matters worse the Palestinian Authority, the limited self-rule entity governing parts of the West Bank with weak electoral legitimacy, does not fully endorse BDS and continues to actively collaborate with the Israeli authorities including on security matters.

 

 

 

 

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