February 13, 2023
Actors Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen and Alia Shawkat, authors Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein and 2022 Nobel laureate for literature Annie Ernaux are among more than 50 public figures to welcome the mayor of Barcelona’s suspension of ties with official Israeli institutions.
Last week, Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona (pictured above), announced the suspension which includes canceling Barcelona’s twinning agreement with Tel Aviv, until “Israeli authorities end the systematic violation against the Palestinian population and fully comply with international law”.
In a letter addressed to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Mayor said that the move came in response to a petition by one hundred social organizations and thousands of residents under the slogan “Barcelona says NO to Apartheid, Barcelona says YES to human rights”.
Now, high profile signatories including Nobel Prize winners for peace Mairead Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Jody Williams, and for chemistry, George P. Smith, film directors Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and Cherien Dabis (Ozark, Only Murders in the Building) and Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake), and musicians Marianne Faithful, Peter Gabriel, Seun Kuti and Brian Eno, have signed a letter praising the Mayor’s stance.
The letter criticizes governments for reacting to Israel’s “decades long” breaches of international law and violations of Palestinian rights, “with empty gestures … while simultaneously arming, funding and shielding” its government from accountability. It goes on to say that the move by Barcelona’s Mayor “reminds us of the courageous city councils that pioneered cutting links with apartheid South Africa in the past”. The letter is also signed by Angela Davis and South African MP Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.
In a personal message to the Mayor, letter signatory Ronnie Kasrils, veteran of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and a former minister in Mandela’s government, added that he was “elated by the decision” which he said “reverberates beyond Barcelona. It inspires the international community, and those of us living in a free, democratic South Africa.”
Palestinian lawyer and author Raja Shehadeh, legislators Hanan Ashrawi and Mustafa Barghouti, and founder of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Ruchama Marton, also signed, along with philosopher Judith Butler and Nora Cortinas, co-founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a movement that exposed ‘disappearances’ by the Argentine dictatorship from 1974-1983. The letter ends by commending those speaking out for human rights in Barcelona: “You all give us hope that justice, freedom, equality and dignity for all can prevail.”
The letter is published in full below, together with the list of signatories.
“We salute the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, for her brave decision to suspend institutional ties with Israel, including the twinning agreement with Tel Aviv, until Palestinians can live in freedom, without military occupation and apartheid.
This reminds us of the courageous city councils that pioneered cutting links with apartheid South Africa in the past.
Following reports by major Palestinian, South African, Israeli and international human rights organizations that designate Israel as an apartheid state and call for effective measures of ending complicity with it, Barcelona’s decision should inspire institutions worldwide to end their own involvement in sustaining regimes of oppression. Apartheid, after all, is a crime against humanity.
We, the undersigned, oppose racism in all its forms and uphold the principles of justice and human rights in a holistic way that includes Palestinians. We are morally outraged that powerful governments react to Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights under international law with empty gestures and expressions of “concern,” while simultaneously arming, funding and shielding from accountability Israel’s decades-old system of injustice and continuing business as usual with it.
With the current Israeli government, the most far-right, racist, sexist and homophobic ever, pressure is more needed than ever to end its impunity and compel its respect for Palestinian rights under international law.
We commend everyone who made this decision possible, especially the human rights campaigners who worked tirelessly and selflessly to bring it about. You all give us hope that justice, freedom, equality and dignity for all can prevail.”
Aki Kaurismaki Director, screenwriter
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel community organizer, artist, writer, Nobel laureate
Alexei Sayle Writer, comedian, broadcaster
Alia Shawkat Actor
Angela Davis Philosopher, scholar
Annie Ernaux Author, Nobel laureate
Arundhati Roy Author
Bella Freud Fashion designer
Brian Eno Musician, producer
Cherien Dabis Director, screenwriter, actor
Christy Moore Singer-songwriter
Fernando Meirelles Director, screenwriter, producer
George P. Smith Biochemist, Nobel laureate
Gillian Slovo Author, playwright
Gloria Wekker Author, scholar
Hanan Ashrawi Legislator, politician
Jody Williams Human rights campaigner, Nobel laureate
Judith Butler Philosopher, writer
Julie Christie Actor
Kamila Shamsie Author
Ken Loach Film director
Lakhdar Brahimi UN Algerian diplomat
Liam Cunningham Actor
Mairead Maguire Peace campaigner, Nobel laureate
Marianne Faithful Musician
Mark Ruffalo Actor
Maxine Peake Actor
Michael Malarkey Actor
Michael Mansfield KC Barrister
Mike Leigh Director, screenwriter
Mira Nair Film director
Miriam Margolyes Actor
Mustafa Barghouti Legislator, politician
Naomi Klein Author
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela Legislator, South Africa
Nora Cortiñas Co-founder, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Peter Gabriel Musician
Raja Shehadeh Writer and lawyer
Raji Sourani Director, Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Ramin Bahrani Director, screenwriter
Ramy Youssef Comedian, actor, writer, director
Robyn Slovo Film and TV producer
Ronan Bennett Screenwriter, author
Ronnie Kasrils Former Minister in Nelson Mandela’s government
Ruchama Marton Founder, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
Sara Driver Film director
Sepideh Moafi Actor
Seun Kuti Musician
Stephen Rea Actor
Suad Amiry Author and architect
Susan Sarandon Actor
Tunde Adebimpe Musician and actor
V (formerly Eve Ensler) Playwright
Viggo Mortensen Actor, writer, director, producer
Yanis Varoufakis Legislator and economist
Additional statements by signatories:
“I am elated by the decision of the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, to suspend her city’s ties with Tel Aviv in solidarity with the courageous people of Palestine and in protest at Israel’s brutal suppression of their rights. Her inspiring stance, represents the best qualities of the freedom loving people of her city, whose sentiments she represents. This significant solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian people reverberates beyond Barcelona. It inspires the Palestinian people along with the international community, and those of us living in a free, democratic South Africa. Barcelona’s stance energises the global BDS movement to emulate what was achieved in seeing an end to Apartheid South Africa, and bringing similar pressure to bear on Apartheid Israel.”
Ronnie Kasrils, veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and former Minister of Intelligence in Nelson Mandela’s government, South Africa.
Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian legislator, video message:
Hannan Ashrawi, Palestinian legislator, video message: