The ‘power of the affirmative’ is peddled by many a self-help guru who claims human happiness lies in saying ‘Yes!’. In opposition, responding ‘No’, turning down an opportunity and walking away is seen purely in its negative sense – as defeatist, miserablist.
From Macy Gray’s Facebook wall
On Wednesday 19 January, the American pop diva, Macy Gray posted a question ‘Stay or go?’ on her official Facebook page in which she explained that she was “getting alot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing [in Tel Aviv] in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians.” While she acknowledged that “What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting” she added that she wanted to go and – using a double negative – ended with the disclaimer: “I dont know how my NOT going changes anything” (Macy Gray, Official).
Hundreds of people around the globe who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israel posted comments encouraging Macy Gray to not go, to cancel her two upcoming concerts, but inevitably their comments were interspersed with ‘positive’ messages exhorting her to ‘Go!’: ‘Please come; see for yourself; don’t walk away; talk with people; make the world happier with music; stand for truth!” as well as the occasional indignant message that said she wasn’t wanted anyway, a favourite being: “I just made like so i can dislike u i don’t like u as a jew nor a music lover ur just not importent” as well as the predictable “So Macy Gray is a anti-Semitic NAZI that supports terrorism. GOOD TO KNOW!”
On her twitter account late on Wednesday night, Gray posted a response to one of her followers: “@bahebakyagaza See I’m willing to listen – really listen – but some of you so called boycotters are just assholes.” I prefer to call us killjoys, if one believes there is joy in saying ‘Yes!’ to normalization of the military occupation, and ‘Go for it!’ to turning a blind eye to the passing of racist, McCarthyite bills in the Knesset, ‘making the world happier’ by ignoring the ‘bullies’ who call for Israeli leaders to be prosecuted for war-crimes.
We are the naysayers, the people who marched in our thousands against the massacre of Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip in 08/09, and we know the positive power of ‘No’.
In later tweeting the bitterly ironic words “Dear Israel fans. Me and the band will be there in 20 days. Can’t wait. See you then. Peace,” Macy Gray will delight most of her Israeli fans who hate to be disappointed, and inconvenienced by international laws. Yet, while she will find the embrace of unapologetic apartheid as she crosses the picket line to be warm at first, the historical reality will catch up with her and its grip is chilling.
An Israeli activist has taken the path of love and created a new Facebook page: 20 Days to Macy Gray Project in which she will post “1 tragedy and 1 piece of information about BDS a day” in a final effort to change Macy Gray’s mind.
[headline updated to accurately reflect Gray’s tweet]