Letter with 52 signatories including artists and activists also denounces US and EU â€˜complicityâ€™ through weapons sales
By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
A man looks at the ruins of a Hamas police station destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA
A group of Nobel peace prize-winners, prominent artists and activists have issued a call for an international military boycott of Israel following its assault on the Gaza Strip this month.
The letter also denounces the US, EU and several developing countries for what it describes as their â€œcomplicityâ€ through weapons sales and other military support in the attack that killed 160 Palestinians, many of them civilians, including about 35 children.
The 52 signatories include the Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo PÃ©rez Esquivel; the film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach; the author Alice Walker; the US academic Noam Chomsky; Roger Waters of Pink Floyd; and StÃ©phane Hessel, a former French diplomat and Holocaust survivor who was co-author of the universal declaration of human rights.
â€œHorrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israelâ€™s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel,â€ the letter says.
â€œSuch a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.â€
The letter accuses several countries of providing important military support that facilitated the assault on Gaza. â€œWhile the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israelâ€™s military complex through its research programmes.
â€œSimilarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom,â€ it says.
The letter opens with a quote from Nelson Mandela: â€œFor to be free is not merely to cast off oneâ€™s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.â€
The other signatories include John Dugard, a South African jurist and former UN special rapporteur in the occupied territories; Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European parliament; Cynthia McKinney, a former member of the US Congress; Ronnie Kasrils, a South African former cabinet minister; and the dramatist Caryl Churchill.