I can't be silent any longer. To be silent is to condone what is happening in Palestine, says Anoushka Shankar
Flix Friday, January 16, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | August 4, 2014 | 02:44 pm IST Sitar player Anoushka Shankar recently joined a list of celebrities who openly voiced their concerns about the situation in Palestine. On July 31, Shankar took to Facebook to share her views opposing the large scale civilian casualty in Palestine, opposing the killing regardless of who committed it. "I can't be silent any longer. To be silent is to condone what is happening", she writes. Here is Shankar's post in its entirety. Dear friends, As a rule, I don't use my music page to voice opinion on politics, as I truly believe music can transcend those boundaries and raise the consciousness of people towards peace, and it's against that belief to divide my audience by sharing my political views. However, when something is a humanitarian issue, I've always spoken when I felt moved to, and used whatever small platform I am lucky enough to have. The issue of Palestine has long torn at me, the deep divisiveness of the situation always holding me back from speaking. But I can't be silent any longer. To be silent is to condone what is happening. This is no longer a political issue, it's a humanitarian one (though of course the horrific level it is allowed and helped to reach by those countries with power, is inherently political). What's happening now, through the bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and shelters, is the systematic and relentless killing of Palestinian civilians, including children. I don't regret visiting Israel for performances last year, even though some people I respect requested I boycott the country, like many other artists. It gave me the chance to see firsthand, the second-class status and lack of equal rights Palestinians suffer under Israeli government, and opened my eyes to their plight. Let me please also be clear, that I have many Israeli-Jewish friends and colleagues who don't share the view of their government, and of whom I am very fond. I fear upsetting them by speaking against their country. But I can't be silent. What is happening now is a crime against humanity, it is apartheid, it is genocide. As a parent I can't begin to imagine the nightmare families are facing, ordered to leave their homes to escape death, then being attacked in their sleep at the shelters where they were promised safety. Please, friends, especially those of you in countries whose governments are supporting these atrocities, voice your dissent. Make your voices loud. Let's be heard. ( A Palestinian woman injured by shrapnel during an Israeli attack on a UNRWA school in Gaza City (Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty)- Image Source: Vox) Her post received a lot of support, many praising her, but some also blamed her for being biased against Israel. Following which Shankar put out another post clarifying her stand. Part of her next post reads, I'm not an expert and don't claim to be. But some people have voiced concern that I was biased by not condemning Hamas. Let's be clear that I am opposed to the killing of innocents, whether by rogue terrorist organizations or by elected governments, and I don't differentiate between the values of human lives whether they were killed by terrorist bombs, Obama's drones, the armies OR militants stationed in Kashmir, or misogynist fundamentalist regimes. To my mind, the argument that a country 'has the right to defend itself' begets questioning when Palestinians in contrast to the State of Israel don't have the same right . Again, I don't condone one or the other side in their killing of people, and it's important to remember that this issue goes back so far and long with 'blame' easy to throw in both/all directions. I don't know if it matters to me, really, who "started a fight," the same way it doesn't matter to me when it involves my three-year-old son and another child. What matters is resolving conflict in the here and now. It's unfair to say the Palestinians aren't 'choosing' peace when that peace, as offered by Israel, is under the conditions of unequal rights, ever-decreasing land and subjugation. I don't personally believe it's anti-semitic to criticise particular points about the country/government (note, NOT people, culture, or religion) of Israel, and I think that argument is a dangerous one for all whom it doesn't serve, as all it does is close the way to discussion. It's no different from arresting Pussy Riot for voicing their dissent, or isolating and bullying Americans who were against the war in Afghanistan after 9/11. We need to be able to discuss peacefully and respectfully. I appreciate those of you who have voiced your disagreement with respect, insight and knowledge, and ask those of you who feel the need to simply be abusive, to refrain from doing so. I can't stop you, but it isn't helpful. No problem if you choose to unlike my page if you don't like what I have to say, but resorting to insults shows a lack of grace, and also perhaps, that you don't have much better to argue with. Post by Anoushka Shankar. Post by Anoushka Shankar.