Children’s Rights Activists Rebuffed at Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation While Urging Him to Cancel Tel Aviv Concert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Barbara Lubin: meca@mecaforpeace.org | 510-548-0542

June 29, 2016, San Rafael, CA - On Tuesday members of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) attempted to deliver a petition signed by 25,000 people urging musician Carlos Santana to respect the call for a cultural boycott of Israel in support of Palestinian human rights and cancel his upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for July 30.

The delegation, including local Palestinian families with children, was ignored by the staff of Santana’s Milagro Foundation, which he founded in 1998 and is devoted to helping "underserved and vulnerable children around the world." Staff at the office had not responded to several requests for an appointment, refused to open the door when the delegation arrived, and closed the blinds.

“Our peaceful group led by three children and a baby wasn't even able to get through the door. I heard someone inside the office say, 'Don't open that door!' They refused to hear our message and receive the letter signed by 25,000 people," said Renda Dabit, a Palestinian-American mother who joined the delegation with her young son.

The delegation left a copy of the petition outside in the hopes that Milagro Foundation staff and Carlos Santana will read it and respond.

"Carlos Santana has a reputation for caring about the world around him and has spoken out for human rights. We hope that he'll join us in standing up for the rights of Palestinians," added Smith Patrick, a photographer and filmmaker who has made films on Palestine, and also attended with her family.

The name of the Milagro Foundation means miracle and was inspired by the image of children as divine miracles of light and hope. According to Defense for Children International - Palestine, Israel has killed more than 1,800 Palestinian children since 2000. Every year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children, who face ill-treatment and torture.

"Palestinian children are suffering under Israeli military occupation and apartheid policies. These children deserve Carlos Santana's attention and support. Just a few miles from the Tel Aviv concert hall, there are Palestinian children whose homes were demolished by Israeli bulldozers and bombs, who have no clean water to drink, and who are suffering in Israeli jails. We call on Carlos Santana to cancel his upcoming concert in Israel to demonstrate his support for Palestinian children's basic rights,” commented Barbara Lubin, director and co-founder of MECA.

In 2010, Santana honored the call from Palestinian civil society for cultural boycott and cancelled a planned concert. Palestinian rights activists have been calling on him to respect the call once again after he announced his concert in March.

In a letter sent to Santana in April, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urged him not to provide tacit approval of Israel’s oppression by performing in Tel Aviv and noted that his donating the proceeds of the concert to Doctors Without Borders does not make it less problematic. On June 16, the original Facebook post on his page announcing the concert and donation to Doctors Without Borders was edited to remove their name. PACBI had appealed to Doctors Without Borders not to lend its name as cover for Santana to cross the boycott picket line.

Neither Santana nor the Milagro Foundation have responded to letters from PACBI or allied groups in the United States.  

"We call on Carlos Santana to refrain from lending his good name to the whitewash of Israel's apartheid regime. Playing in Tel Aviv today is akin to playing in Sun City at the height of apartheid in South Africa. We urge Santana not to undermine the Palestinian picket line and to act with conscience and moral courage by cancelling his Israel concert,” said Hind Awwad, a member of PACBI.

Since 2004, when Palestinians issued the call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel modeled after the similar campaign targeting apartheid South Africa, hundreds of artists from around the world have refused to perform in Israel until Palestinian human rights are respected. They include Lauryn Hill, Roger Waters, Boots Riley, Talib Kweli, Elvis Costello, Sinéad O'Connor and many more.

Photos of the petition delivery are available -- for access to them, or any additional information, please contact Barbara Lubin at meca@mecaforpeace.org or 510-548-0542.