An Open Letter to Paul McCartney

Dear Paul McCartney,

As an Israeli peace campaigner, I was quite appalled to hear that you intend to celebrate Israel’s anniversary by giving a concert in Tel Aviv on the 25th September. As someone who witnessed the plight of the Palestinian people for the past 60 years I truly believe that Israel’s anniversary is not an occasion for celebration, but rather for commemorating the Palestinian 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) where 800,000 Palestinian civilians were dispossessed of their homeland by the Israeli forces who since 1967 continue to subjecting the Palestinian people to a brutal military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli kibbutz, where I was born, has prospered on Palestinian fields confiscated by the State of Israel from neighbouring Palestinian villages, raised to the ground in the aftermath of the 1948 Israel’s "war of Independence". About 500 such villages were completely demolished by the Israeli state and the property, land, assets, businesses and bank accounts of the expelled Palestinians were officially expropriated by State of Israel.

The Jewish News (London) quotes you as saying that "I have heard so many great things about Tel Aviv and Israel". Unfortunately, you did not hear the full story. Just few hundreds miles away from Tel Aviv the Israeli army has been blockading the 1.5 million residents of Gaza Strip by sea, air and land. Many of the children, women and elderly in the Strip have been suffering from malnutrition, diseases and starvation as result of the shortage of staple food, medicines, fuel, electricity and clear water. The people of Gaza strip have been sealed off from the rest of the world since January 2006 when they elected, by fair democratic election, the political party of Hamas. They, of course, would not be able to hear your music, or any other music for that matter. The only "music" they could hear is the "sound bombs" of flying Israeli bombers which have repeatedly been breaking the sound barriers in order to scare and intimidate the residents of Gaza – leaving small children in traumatic fear and near deafness. The Israeli military keep conducting "surgical strikes " intended to assassinate Palestinian leaders by dropping bombs on chosen targets – taking the life of innocent bystanders, and maiming and killing children and women.

According to the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (IPHR), dozens of critically-ill patients have already died as result of Israel’s refusal to allow them to exit Gaza, in order to get medical aid outside their inhuman "prison". In addition, many patients have died in Gaza’s hospitals due to the current shortage of medical supply, power cuts, and the scarcity of fuel and petrol needed for emergency generators and ambulances.

Sadly, the 11,000 Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons, including hundreds of women and children who are detained for indefinite period without any charge, would also be unable to hear your open concert – celebrating the 60th anniversary of the "great" State of Israel.

Nearer to Tel Aviv, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) of the West Bank, there are further 3 million Palestinians who are besieged by an Apartheid wall (which is higher, longer and more dangerous than the Berlin Wall of "cold war”) and by 600 checkpoints that prevent the free movement of the Palestinian people, and cut them off their families, fields, schools, hospitals and workplaces. On the hills above, all over the land, there are 149 illegal Jewish settlements built on expropriated Palestinian land, and on uprooted olive groves. The 450.000 Jewish settlers exploit the scarce water and natural resources of the land, and, with the complicity of the Israeli military, harass and kill innocent Palestinians at will. Those illegal settlers enjoy the use of exclusive highroads, which are banned for Palestinians, and the luxurious life style that comes with immense subsidies offered by the State of Israel.

Human rights organisations such Amnesty International, War on Want, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and many renown personalities all over the world have repeatedly reported and condemned Israel’s continued violations of international law and the abuse of human rights.

In April 2008 , at the Global day of Action on Cluster Munitions, you publicly declared : "cluster bomblets, like anti-personnel mines, are unacceptable when they kill and injure innocent civilians including children. I call upon individuals, organisations and politicians to do all they can to remove and reduce the impact of these weapons for future generations." As a celebrated patron of the anti-landmines charity, you must be aware that in summer 2006 Israel has fired 1.2 millions cluster bomblets at Lebanon – leaving more that 1200 civilians dead and virtually "pulverizing" the country. According to the Israeli newspaper – Haa’retz – and the world press, hundreds of thousands of those bomblets did not explode – turning into make-shift mines which are still maiming and killing small children, villagers, and farmers who work on the land in Southern Lebanon.

In 1965, the Israeli authorities cancelled and banned a concert by the Beatles on the grounds that their music corrupts the Israeli youth. Now it is your turn to join the many millions of peace campaigners (including thousands of Jews and Israeli peace activists ) and take a stance against Israel’s intolerable record on human rights and against the brutal repression of the Palestinian people. Your continued efforts to condemn wrongs have been memorized in your renown protest songs, such as Freedom, and your lifelong support for human rights was recognised in a special award presented to you by Amensty Intenrational (2001). Please, let it prevail. Let it Be !

Yours sincerely,

Ruth Tenne

London, United Kingdom