On last night’s BBC Question Time, comedian Russell Brand’s contributions to discussions ranging from drugs to bankers to Syria revolved around a sense of social justice. On the subject of Syria, he raised the fact that yesterday, 20th June, was World Refugee Day which aims to “honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.”
He raised the issue of the millions of Syrian refugees whilst totally ignoring the implication that his upcoming “Messiah Complex” gigs in Israel has for Palestinian refugees and Palestinians in general. 2 out of every 5 refugees in the world are Palestinian. 70% of the world’s Palestinians are refugees or internally displaced persons. It is estimated that there are 486,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria and tens of thousands of these have been forcibly displaced, once again, for the second, third, fourth time. You cannot separate refugees from the issue of Palestine, nor can you separate Palestine from the issues faced by the global refugee population.
In playing Israel, Brand is ignoring the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). If he wishes to show true solidarity with the refugees of Syria, and the global refugee population, then he must recognise the part that the state of Israel has had to play in the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians. The best way that Brand can “honour the courage, strength and determination” of refugees is to show respect and solidarity to the 40% of the world’s refugees that are Palestinian; and join the likes of Alice Walker, Iain Banks, Judith Butler, Desmond Tutu and Stephen Hawkings in boycotting Israel.
Sign the petition to call on Brand to cancel his gigs in Israel