Open letter calling on Pilsen 2015 to withdraw from hosting the Days of Jerusalem festival

The original letter in Czech, the press release in Czech, the English press release here

Martin Zrzavecký
mayor of the city of Plzeň
nám. Republiky 1
306 32 Plzeň

Jiří Suchánek
director Plzeň 2015, o. p. s.
Pražská 19
301 00 Plzeň

Prague, 23 April 2015

Case: Open letter calling on Pilsen 2015 to withdraw from hosting the Days of Jerusalem festival

Dear Mayor Zrzavecký and Director Suchánek,

We respectfully request that you reconsider your decision to host the Days of Jerusalem festival as a part of the event Pilsen 2015 – European Capital of Culture.

The Days of Jerusalem Festival and associated Day of Jerusalem claim to celebrate and present Jerusalem as a unified city; an Israeli city and the capital of the State of Israel. Under international law and de-facto Israeli policies, this is not the case.

In 1947, and then again in 1948, the city of Jerusalem was, through the United Nations’ General Assembly resolution, declared by the international community as Corpus Separatum. This means that Jerusalem was supposed to become an international city which does not belong to any single state. Nonetheless, in 1980, the State of Israel annexed Jerusalem and declared it as its capital. Yet, the international community has never accepted this annexation. Likewise, the European Union, through the statements of its highest-ranking representatives, repeatedly made known that it continues to view Jerusalem as Corpus Separatum.

The Days of Jerusalem event is part of a political strategy through which the State of Israel seeks to secure legitimation of its illegal annexation of Jerusalem. This is further supported by the fact that several Israeli government agencies will partake in the festival’s organization. Thus, via the festival Days of Jerusalem, the Czech public is misinformed and deliberately dragged into a highly controversial political game in which your event – Pilsen 2015 – is nothing more than another playing field.

The organizers of Pilsen 2015 have an obligation to the Czech public. The public has the right to be well informed and not be manipulated by one side. Other countries in Europe are aware of this obligation. For instance, in the beginning of March this year, British authorities forbade the distribution of an advertisement which depicted Jerusalem as an Israeli city. In 2012, the distribution of a tourism advertisement, which encompassed a map of the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a part of Israel, was banned in Britain.

The title “European Capital of Culture,” indicates the responsibility of the event to be representative of the European Union, which grants this organizational privilege. We urge you to respect the European interpretation of the situation in Jerusalem, as well is its long-term efforts at resolving it. In no way does the European Union consider Jerusalem an Israeli city, yet this is how the festival Days of Jerusalem is trying to portray it.
In closing, we urge you to step away from hosting of the festival Days of Jerusalem as part of the event Pilsen 2015 – European Capital of Culture.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you.

The open letter was supported with the signatures of:

Petr Uhl, journalist
Jan Kavan, former Foreign Minister and former chairman UN General Assembly
Zuzana Uhde, sociologist
Vladimír Laštůvka, former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Chamber of Deputies
Roman Sikora, theater critic and playwright
Šádí Shanaáh, university lecturer of the Middle East studies
Tomáš Tožička, theologian and developmental issues expert
Matěj Stropnický, journalist, representative of the capital city of Prague (Green Party)
Yasar Abu Ghosh, anthropologist
Tatiana Konrádová, representative (Green Party) an chair of the Social Committee ZMČ Prague 5
Ivan Bartoš, philosopher, politician – Pirate Party
Filip Outrata, theologian, editor and publicist
Milan Daniel, journalist
Daniel Veselý, translator and publicist
Milan Kohout, performer and university lecturer
Vít Klepárník, political scientist
Jan Černý, political analyst and publicist

On behalf of the conveners of the open letter:

Vojtěch Srnka, student of international relations
David Kocman, sociologist
Prokop Singer, student of international relation and European studies at MUP
Naďa Kotaishová, student of journalism at AAU
Zdeněk Jehlička, of the initiative Not in our name! – For just peace in the Middle East
Petra Šťastná, International Solidarity Movement Czech Republic (ISM ČR)
Jana Ridvanová, Friends of Palestine
Shadid Bessisso, Palestinian Club in the Czech Republic

Distribution – partners of the Days of Jerusalem festival:

The Israeli Embassy in Prague
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel
Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv
The Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic
Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce
Pilsen Region

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