Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – Carleton has issued the following call to support the Ottawa-based trio Three Little Birds.
Dear friends and allies,
A local Ottawa musical group, Three Little Birds, is under attack for their support of the fight against Israeli Apartheid and they need your help.
HonestReportingCanada, a staunchly pro-Israel media organization is attacking Three Little Birds for their courage to sing about Israeli Apartheid, and CTV, for allowing musicians on their program who choose to sing about such a topic.
On June 18, CTV Ottawa invited the Three Little Birds to talk about their new album and perform a song in advance of their Ottawa Jazzfest performance. The song they chose to sing is entitled “Apartheid,” which is a powerful song detailing Carleton University’s president’s support for the apartheid policies of Israel. As a result, HonestReportingCanada, which claims to have 25,000 subscribers to its email list, sent out an email blast to all of its subscribers entitled “CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an ‘Apartheid’ State.” The e-mail attacks Three Little Birds and urges people to email the CTV Regional Vice President to pressure him not to allow musicians on the program who may criticize the actions of the state of Israel through the use of the term “apartheid.”
See the CTV segment here.
See the HonestReportingCanada article here.
In response, the Three Little Birds published a powerful statement of their own, responding to the attempted censorship of their music and of CTV, and explaining why they chose to write the song “Apartheid” (the band’s full statement is reprinted below).
What you can do:
1) Write a letter to CTV
HonestReportingCanada undoubtedly has hundreds of people emailing CTV to get it to self-censor and disallow performers who may criticize the state of Israel. CTV’s initial response to HonestReportingCanada was firm and principled:
“That they [Three Little Birds] chose to make a political statement during their performance is not uncommon for bands and also not something we are overly concerned about. Our viewers have become accustomed to what I’m sure you’re also keenly aware—creating controversy is what musicians often do.”
Please email CTV Regional Vice-President Richard Gray (sample below): Richard.Gray@bellmedia.ca to let him know how much we appreciate their decision to feature an Ottawa band unafraid to tackle important social justice issues and ask that they refuse to concede to HonestReportingCanada’s attempted censorship. Please BCC firstname.lastname@example.org with the letters you send.
Dear Mr. Gray,
Thank you for broadcasting the Three Little Birds and respecting their song choice on CTV programming. Music is a time-honoured way of bringing attention to important issues and speaking out against injustice. I would like congratulate CTV on recognizing this and refusing to concede to the demands of those who seek to silence voices of dissent. It is critical that we continue to support freedom of speech, providing venues for the voicing of opinions, be they controversial or not.
Thank you again for showcasing such talented and inspiring Ottawa musicians!
2) Support the Three Little Birds
The Three Little Birds are an incredibly talented group that produces powerful music while singing about important social justice issues including: Israeli apartheid, Indigenous sovereignty, the Tar Sands, and gender-based violence. Undoubtedly, HonestReportingCanada was attempting to smear them with their article in an effort to silence them and alienate them from their community. Let’s show HonestReportingCanada that this plan backfired, and that the Three Little Birds are actually gaining more support because of their principled stance!
Please note that their music will be available on iTunes shortly.
Check out their schedule to see if you can catch one of their shows, and if you’re outside of Ottawa, consider contacting them to play in your city by contacting them at: email@example.com
Three Little Birds respond to HonestReportingCanada
Re: CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an “Apartheid” State (July 16, 2012)
To whom it may concern/interest,
We’d like to thank HonestReportingCanada for writing about our TV clip on CTV. They attempted to censor CTV’s airing of our song “Apartheid,” but it now has almost 2,000 views. We sincerely thank HonestReportingCanada for the free promotion.
Our song “Apartheid,” was originally written in response to the banning of a poster at Carleton University that depicted the bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians. A year later, we learned that the Carleton University pension fund invests in and profits from the very weaponry that is depicted in the poster (breakdown on the attached image). Three Little Birds is deeply disturbed that the university pension fund profited from the Gaza bombings and continues to profit from the weaponry and other infrastructure of occupation that oppress Palestinian people. The song is our reaction to attempted censorship. With great poetic irony, HonestReportingCanada is currently asking its subscribers to censor CTV coverage of music and politics by calling upon CTV executives to never again present anyone on the air who criticizes the current actions of the state of Israel through use of the term “apartheid” like we did with our song.
We don’t use the term “Apartheid” lightly. It is the current actions of the state of Israel that necessitated the use of the term. According to the definition of apartheid under international law, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa Report, Israel is currently operating as an apartheid state.
The Wall that Israel is building in the West Bank, which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, has annexed Palestinian territory, appropriated Palestinian water resources, and destroyed thousands of orchards, homes and communities. Furthermore, Israel currently has over 500 checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, which restrict the movement of virtually all Palestinians living there, and subjects them to violence and humiliation on a daily basis. Additionally, Palestinians living within the boundaries of Israel proper have their citizenship restricted, as they are legally discriminated against. (Check out link to the Adalah Inequity Report. This institutionalized racism has led people such as Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid activist to state in his Guardian article, “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” that “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when the young white police officers prevented us from moving about.” Israel, as any other country or individual, must be held accountable for its actions, and we are therefore proud to stand against apartheid, and with the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality for all those living in Israel and Palestine.
In light of HonestReportingCanada’s attempted censorship of the term “Israeli apartheid,” we find their slogan to “promote fairness” and “ensure accuracy,” laughable. While we understand that we are little more than a “fringe musical group” next to the magnitude that is HonestReportingCanada, we nonetheless suggest that they stop promoting censorship and ensure the accuracy of their own information. For example, they assert that Gay Pride Toronto has banned the term “apartheid.” This is false, and only requires the simple use of a search engine to confirm this. Or just follow this link!
Thanks again for the free promotion, HonestReportingCanada!
We invite our supporters to send their own thoughts to CTV’s Regional Vice-President Richard Gray at the following address: Richard.Gray@bellmedia.ca. Let’s ensure that CTV knows that we want to hear more about this topic!
Three Little Birds
For more information about these issues, we recommend visiting:
Russel Tribunal on Palestine
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports from September 2011 and December 2011
International Court of Justice decision
B’Tselem facts about the Wall
B’Tselem info on checkpoints
Checkpoint Watch (Israeli NGO)
Adalah- The Inequity Report
Desmond Tutu, “Apartheid in the Holy Land”
Israel and Apartheid: A fair comparison?:
Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa Report, “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Isreal’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law,” 2009.