Open Letter to the EU Commission: The European Capital of Culture helps legitimise illegal annexation of Jerusalem

Press Release here | Letter in Czech here | Czech Press Release here

Mr Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
European Commission’s European Capitals of Culture (ECOC)
The Monitoring and Advisory Panel for the European Capital of Culture

Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council (EU’s Council of Ministers)
Mr Xavier Prats Monné, Director-General of DG Education and Culture, European Commission: Culture

Prague, 19 May 2015

Case: The European Capital of Culture helps legitimise illegal annexation of Jerusalem

Dear Commissioner, Dear Sir/Madame,

We are writing to bring to your attention that the label European Capital of Culture is being used to help legitimise claims deemed illegal by the international community.

As part of the official programme, the European Capital of Culture Pilsen 2015 has scheduled an event called the “Days of Jerusalem”. Through ostensibly apolitical means, the event is part of a political strategy to secure legitimation of annexation of Jerusalem by the State of Israel. The Days of Jerusalem is a government sponsored festival directed at international audiences, which claims to present “the reality of the city”. In fact, this event whitewashes Israeli policies of forced transfer, colonialism and apartheid in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Days of Jerusalem festival presents a false image of Jerusalem as a unified, Israeli city to the Czech and international public. Through soft means, the event conveys the same message as the Israeli government – an insistence that Jerusalem is an indivisible city and the capital of Israel. However, the city of Jerusalem has been twice declared by the UN a Corpus Separatum rendering its annexation by Israel in 1980 illegal. European Union supports this line and has never confirmed Israeli annexation of Jerusalem.

The Czech public is thus misinformed and deliberately dragged into a controversial political game in which the label European Capital of Culture is being misused to legitimise an illegal act.

As an awarding body, the European Commission has a responsibility for events held under the label of the European Capital of Culture. Therefore, we would like to ask you to take steps to ensure that no event held as part of the European Capital of Culture official programme is breaching the EU foreign policy, misinforming or manipulating the public for political gains of a third party state, or whitewashing illegal acts.

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

This open letter is endorsed by the following signatories:

Hedy Epstein, Holocaust survivor and member of Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Alice Walker, writer and poet, Pulitzer Prize winner, USA
Roger Waters, musician, co-founder of Pink Floyd, UK
John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territory, South Africa
Noam Chomsky, linguist and philosopher, Professor (ret) at MIT, USA
Ann Wright, US Army Reserves Colonel (ret) and former US diplomat
Ilan Pappé, historian, Professor at the University of Exeter (UK), Israel
Raymond L McGovern, CIA analyst (ret), USA
Chris Hedges, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with Truth Dig, USA
Dror Feiler, musician, artist, President of EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace), Sweden
Haidar Eid, Associate Prof. of Literature and Cultural Studies, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza, Palestine
Shlomo Sand, Emeritus Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, Israel
Miko Peled, author, Israel
Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy, USA
Ken Loach, film director, UK
Pierre Galand, President of ECCP and General Coordinator for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Belgium
Jane Hirschmann, US Boat to Gaza and Jews Say No!, USA
Prof. Lieven De Cauter, University of Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Marc David, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
Mazin Qumsiyeh, scientist, author and the director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Palestine
Gail Miller, Jews Say No! and Women of a Certain Age, USA
Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Belgium
Kenneth E. Mayers, Veterans for Peace, USA
Greta Berlin, co-founder, the Free Gaza movement, USA
Susan Abulhawa, writer, USA
Leah Bolger, CDR, US Navy (ret), Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, USA
Linda Durham, US Boat to Gaza
Paki Wieland, US Boat to Gaza
Erin DeRamus, US Boat to Gaza
Barbara Briggs-Letson, US Boat to Gaza
Carol Murry, US Boat to Gaza
Ridgely Fuller, Code Pink, USA
Johnny Barber, US Boat to Gaza
Nic Abramson, US Boat to Gaza
Helaine Meisler, US Boat to Gaza
Richard A. Levy, attorney, USA
Kit Kittredge, US Boat to Gaza
David Schermerhorn, US Boat to Gaza
Paki Wieland, US Boat to Gaza
Debra Ellis, co-founder, The Islah Reparations Project, USA
Kali Rubaii, PhD candidate in Anthropology, University of California; co-founder of The Islah Reparations Project, USA
Petr Uhl, journalist, Czech Republic
Jan Kavan, former Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, and former chairman UN General Assembly
Vladimír Laštůvka, former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies Parliament of the Czech Republic
Roman Sikora, theater critic and playwright, Czech Republic
Daniel Veselý, publicist, Czech Republic
Filip Outrata, theologian, editor and publicist, Czech Republic
Šádí Shanaáh, lecturer at the Anglo-American University, Czech Republic

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), Palestine
University Teachers’ Association, Palestine
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), Palestine
One Democratic State Group, Palestine
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS), Israel

European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), Belgium
BDS Slovenia
Cultura è Libertà (Culture is Freedom), a campaign for Palestine , Italy
BADIL, Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
AFPS (Association France Palestine Solidarité), France
ICAHD Finland
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Finnish-Arab Friendship Association
Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (docP), the Netherlands
The Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK)
BDS Berlin
Palestina Solidariteit, Belgium
Association Belgo-Palestinienne (ABP), Belgium
BDS Switzerland
Médecine pour le Tiers Monde, Belgium
The Society for Austro-Arab Relations, Austria
Frauen in Schwarz (Wien), Austria
Iniciatíva za spravodlivý mier na Blízkom východe (Initiative for a Just Peace in the Middle East), Slovakia

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
Libor Von Schönau, the Czech Boat to Gaza
Naďa Kotaishová, student of journalism at AAU
Zdeněk Jehlička, of the initiative Not in Our Name! – For a Just Peace in the Middle East
Petra Šťastná, International Solidarity Movement Czech Republic (ISM ČR)
Jana Ridvanová, Friends of Palestine, Czech Republic
Shadid Bessisso, Palestinian Club in the Czech Republic

Distribution – organizers and partners of the Days of Jerusalem festival:

Martin Zrzavecký, mayor of the city of Pilsen
Jiří Suchánek, director Plzeň 2015, o. p. s.
Embassy of the State of Israel, Prague
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel
Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv
Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce
Pilsen Region

Other distribution:

Jacques Rao, Director, Secretariat of the Governing Bodies – Secretary of the General Conference, UNESCO

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