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Video: Pressure mounts on Robbie Williams to choose between Tel Aviv and UNICEF

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on 17 Comments

Yesterday marked the grand finale of a four-day-long musical extravaganza at the UNICEF UK head office, by London Palestine Action (@LondonPalestine)  – one of the UK’s most active and most creative BDS groups  – in protest of the decision of Robbie Williams, UNICEF UK ambassador, to play Tel Aviv.

London Palestine Action musical extravaganza at UNICEF UK (photo: London Palestine Action)

London Palestine Action musical extravaganza at UNICEF UK (photo: London Palestine Action)

Robbie Williams, the UK pop megastar, announced his May 2 Tel Aviv gig last November, a key date of his “Let Me Entertain You” world tour. This came only days after UNICEF UK made him frontman for its high-profile Children In Danger campaign, a mind-boggling contradiction reported here at the time

The Two Robbies and ScarJoOn each day of the protest, activists wearing Robbie masks sang their Radical Karaoke renditions of Robbie’s hits with updated (and in my opinion, much improved) lyrics.

Let Me Entertain Apartheid

I’m a burning effigy
Of absolute hypocrisy
An ambassador with no empathy, my dear

Those who don’t know Robbie’s music, will surely recognize this fitting parody of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s classic duet ‘Something Stupid’ (originally by Carson and Gaile).

But then I go and spoil it all

By doing something stupid like

Play Israel

A cover of ‘Something Stupid’ was released by Robbie and Nicole Kidman in 2001. It reached the coveted ‘UK Christmas Number One’ slot in that year. This week, at UNICEF, Radical Robbie performed a stunning duet of Something Stupid with another Hollywood A-lister and fellow apartheid apologist, Scarlett Johansson.

On Day 1, to kick off the protest, the group handed in a letter explaining the purpose of the protest, which began:

We write to you in light of a brutal injustice against children and their families., a situation that UNICEF has frequently reported and condemned, but which continues unabated thanks to the Western support, both from governments and individuals. We speak, of course, of Israel’s repeated atrocities against the Palestinian people and their children, which has accompanied the decades-old colonisation and occupation of Palestine.

The letter went on to quote UNICEF’s own research describing Israel’s crimes, and the devastating effect of Israel’s policies on the children of Palestine, before making clear the action that the group expected from UNICEF:

We hope UNICEF will remain steadfast in defence of children’s rights, including Palestinian children, and ask Robbie Williams to either reconsider and cancel his Tel Aviv show or step down as a Goodwill Ambassador, given how incompatible the two positions are.

On day 2 of the protest, the group handed in a petition calling for Robbie to cancel his Tel Aviv concert. The petition, signed by 5,000 people (and counting), is still open for signatures here.

Petition calling for Robbie to cancel his Tel Aviv concert (photo: London Palestine Action)

Petition calling for Robbie to cancel his Tel Aviv concert (photo: London Palestine Action)

UNICEF responded to the protest with a cursory rebuff:

Dear London Palestine Action

Thank you for letting us know about your planned protest. 

Robbie Williams is performing in Tel Aviv in his personal capacity. Therefore, any questions relating to where Robbie Williams will be performing on his latest tour should kindly be addressed to his management.

Yours sincerely

Supporter Care Team

In other words: Robbie can do no wrong in our eyes. We are completely OK with him playing to legitimize the apartheid regime, as long as he does it in his own time. We sincerely hope that if we ignore your protest, it will minimize the damage that Williams’s hypocrisy will inflict on UNICEF.

If UNICEF does indeed believe that, then they have severely underestimated the determination of London Palestine Action.

About Stan Hoben

Stan Hoben is a software engineer and human rights activist living in Northern Ireland. Follow him on twitter @newryforgaza

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17 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    April 11, 2015, 2:36 pm

    i love this video! thanks stan ;)

    • pshoben
      April 11, 2015, 4:28 pm

      Don’t mention it Annie. The credit is entirely due to the guys at LPA, they are just awesome.

  2. just
    April 11, 2015, 3:19 pm

    Fantabulous and innovative action!

    What is up with UNICEF these days???

    “Italian BDS activists call on Unicef to pull out of cartoon festival honoring Israel

    It is difficult to imagine, therefore, a more inappropriate choice as guest of honor at this year’s festival than Israel. Cartoons on the Bay will be giving Israel the Pulcinella Award 2015 as a tribute to the country’s ability to produce “interesting, original and innovative” animated cartoons despite its “delicate geopolitical context.”

    Tallying the tragic numbers documented by the Israeli organization B’Tselem and the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), shows that nearly 2,000 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli military forces over the past 15 years, including 551 in the attacks on Gaza last summer.”

    – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/activists-festival-honoring#sthash.uyP4B6zb.

    • pshoben
      April 11, 2015, 4:36 pm

      “What is up with UNICEF these days???” That’s a good question just, I would love to know the answer to that!

    • eGuard
      April 12, 2015, 4:19 am

      UNICEF is in bed with IDF and the Foreign Ministry, says Jpost. We must understand, without this cooperation Israel would have killed 1000 children last summer.

  3. DoubleStandard
    April 12, 2015, 10:16 am

    They must seem close-to-retarded in the eyes of passersby. It’s no wonder that after 15 years of boycotts Israel’s economy has only gotten stronger. The competition is fierce but hopelessly dumb.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      April 12, 2015, 11:45 am

      If Israel’s economy is so strong, why the massive inequality? Why was the last election fought mainly on economic issues? And, most importantly, why does this ‘strong economy’ get $3 billion – and counting — of US taxpayers’ money, every single year?

      I thought the whole point of the”Jewish state’ was that Jews would be self-sufficient in ‘their own’ country. So why are they still reliant on handouts from Gentiles who, as we all know, are all anti-Semites just waiting to get out?

      • Walid
        April 12, 2015, 12:25 pm

        “So why are they still reliant on handouts from Gentiles who, as we all know, are all anti-Semites just waiting to get out?: (MDM)

        On July 10 1996, Netanyahu in an address to the US Congress made the following promise:

        “… We are deeply grateful for all we have received from the United States, for all that we have received from this chamber, from this body. But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: We are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel. I am convinced that our economic policies will lay the foundation for total self-reliance and great economic strength.”

        http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfa-archive/1996/pages/pm%20netanyahu-%20speech%20to%20us%20congress-%20july%2010-%201996.aspx

        That was 19 years ago and he was supposed to have started getting off the dole by the year 2000. If anything, since 1996 has been asking for more and more each year and year after year, the US has been giving it more but hiding the actual extras in its acrobatic accounting to the American people.

        But this was to be expected from a liar. $3 billion a year is probably half of what Israel is actually getting if you start adding the non-budgetted extras like the Iron Dome, the Arrow, and similar projects. 50 years from now, the US will still be paying through the nose.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        April 12, 2015, 1:19 pm

        LOL! So Bibi has been promising ‘economic independence’ from the US for almost as long as he’s been promising us an Iranian bomb?

      • JeffB
        April 13, 2015, 9:54 am

        @Maximus

        If Israel’s economy is so strong, why the massive inequality

        Up to a certain point inequality helps economic growth. Poorer people tend to spend their money richer people tend to invest it. Wealth concentration is one way of shifting the balance of economic activity away from spending and towards investment. The USA may be beyond that point as tremendous disinvestment is starting to occur here, but that’s not the problem Israel faces where the signs of investment are present and obvious.

        ? And, most importantly, why does this ‘strong economy’ get $3 billion – and counting — of US taxpayers’ money, every single year?

        They don’t get economic aide. They get a token amount of military aide as part of weapons contracts that amount to about 8% of their military budget and under 1% of their total GDP. Many weapons deals are of the form:

        Country A gives country B “military aide”
        Country B overpays for weapons from country A
        thus allowing A to pass subsidies to their weapons industries indirectly.

      • amigo
        April 13, 2015, 3:54 pm

        “And, most importantly, why does this ‘strong economy’ get $3 billion – and counting — of US taxpayers’ money, every single year?.MDM

        See WRMEA.

        “Similarly, aid to Israel—and thus the regional total—also is understated, since much is outside of the foreign aid appropriation process or implicit in other programs. Support for Israel comes to $1.8 trillion, including special trade advantages, preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts. In addition to the financial outlay, U.S. aid to Israel costs some 275,000 American jobs each year.

        More detail in the report.

        http://www.wrmea.org/2003-june/the-costs-to-american-taxpayers-of-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-$3-trillion.html

    • just
      April 12, 2015, 12:18 pm

      What a lousy comment.

      I don’t know you manage it, DS.

      • DoubleStandard
        April 12, 2015, 6:57 pm

        Your inspiring leadership-by-example, of course.

    • ckg
      April 12, 2015, 8:40 pm

      They must seem close-to-retarded…hopelessly dumb.

      “retarded”? “dumb”? seriously?!? Reading this I feel like I’m back in fourth grade.

  4. Herb Glatter
    April 12, 2015, 3:31 pm
  5. Herb Glatter
    April 12, 2015, 3:33 pm

    BDS Blumen Fail

    But in his case, it is easier said than done. For Max has created his personal website using Wix.

    Made. In. Israel.

    http://www.israellycool.com/2015/04/12/bds-bloomin-fail/

  6. HarryLaw
    April 13, 2015, 10:43 am

    Alice Rothchild writes in today’s Mondoweiss about Gaza’s children “The most massive child abuse in the world” and the UK Representative of the children’s charity UNICEF is on a singing tour of Israel, the perpetrators of those children’s plight. He should be kicked out of his position.

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