Report: Stevie Wonder pulls out of IDF fundraiser after BDS activists wage campaign

Israel/Palestine
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World famous singer Stevie Wonder has reportedly pulled out of performing at a fundraiser for the Israeli army that was scheduled to take place December 6, according to one anonymous source who spoke with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Here’s the news outlet’s report:

Stevie Wonder is set to pull out of a performance at a fundraiser for the Israel Defense Forces, a source told JTA.

Wonder’s representatives will claim that he did not know the nature of the group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and that he believes such a performance would be incongruent with his status as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace,” according to a source who has read email exchanges between Wonder’s representatives and organizers of the event.

Wonder was scheduled to headline the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces annual gala in Los Angeles on Dec. 6. The event raises millions of dollars annually to support the Israeli military…

Wonder had come under intense social media pressure to pull out of the event. An online petition calling on him to cancel his performance had garnered more than 3,600 signatures.

The petition was launched more than a day ago on the change.org website.

“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel,” the petition reads. “Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s — will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”

A second petition, launched by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, calls on Wonder to “(p)lease continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed. Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”

Wonder performed at a 1998 gala honoring Israel’s 50th anniversary.

As of this writing, the Change.org petition calling for Wonder to pull out had garnered nearly 4,000 signatures.

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (USACBI) had called for a social media campaign to pressure Wonder.

But USACBI is not yet declaring victory. “We are still keeping the pressure going, not enough to hear from JTA that a source said he is set to pull out,” a Twitter message read.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has also been throwing its weight behind the effort. They set up a Stevie Wonder campaign clearing house of sorts on their website, with letters from Israeli and Palestinian citizens urging Wonder not to play. And a separate petition set up by the US Campaign has garnered over 4,000 signatures.

For more on the campaign to get Wonder to pull out, read Alexander Billet’s Electronic Intifada post.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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