Broadway club cancels ‘Black Lives Matter’ benefit because of movement’s stance on Israel

US Politics
on 17 Comments

On Sunday September 11, “Broadway Supports Black Lives Matter,” a group led by actress Tonya Pinkins, was to stage two benefit performances at Feinstein’s/54 Below, a supper club on West 54th Street in NY. Playbill reports that the events have been canceled because the club objects to the BLM platform that says Israel engages in “genocide” against the Palestinian people.

Tonya Pinkins

Tonya Pinkins

Earlier this week, Playbill published this email from the club to ticket-holders:

The owners and managers of [Feinstein’s/54 Below] strongly believe in and support the general thrust of the goals and objectives of BLM. However, since announcing the benefit they’ve become aware of a recent addition to the BLM platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.

Feinstein’s/54 Below would have preferred to hold the concert in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, without endorsing or appearing to endorse the entirety of the Black Lives Matter organization and its platform but we’ve found that a distinction impossible for us to effect.

As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert.

We’re sorry about this unfortunate situation which has not dimmed our commitment to supporting social justice.

The Times says that Feinstein’s/54 Below is a “popular cabaret” and that Pinkins told the newspaper by email that several participants will gather at Joe’s Pub on September 18 and raise funds for Black Lives Matter there. Good luck. Joe’s is part of the New York Public Theater, which recently canceled the Jenin Freedom Theatre production of The Siege, apparently because the board mutinied over the possibility of a play that honors Palestinian resistance to occupation.

The supper club Feinstein’s/54 Below is four years old and has a partnership with Michael Feinstein, performer.

The benefit performance was a follow-up to an August 1 event at which Broadway supported Black Lives Matter, in a performance featuring Audra McDonald among others. Consultants on the September 11 benefit included Frank Leon Roberts, a professor at NYU, and performer Adrienne Warren.

On August 1, BLM released its platform stating its solidarity with Palestinians. In that platform it condemned “genocides” in Africa but also described Israeli policies as genocidal:

The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.

The platform also denounced Israeli “apartheid” and supported Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel for those practices.

I’ve reached out to organizers of the concert for comment. None forthcoming yet.

This is happening the same week that the New York City Council contracts committee is condemning BDS, with members stating that New York has the largest Jewish population of any city in the world and that BDS is anti-Semitic because it denies the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel and that New York is joined at the hip to Israel, financially and economically and on national security, too.

So the battle is pitched in New York. This issue will only gather momentum in the 50th year of the occupation, when the persecution of Palestinians has become so intolerable to so many.

As for the cultural power here, remember what performer Garrison Keillor said about New York in a column on Donald Trump last week in the Chicago Tribune: 

Manhattan [is] where the Times is the Supreme Liberal Jewish Anglican Arbiter of Who Has The Smarts and What Goes Where. When you came to Manhattan 40 years ago, you discovered that in entertainment, the press, politics, finance, everywhere you went, you ran into Jews, and they are not like you: Jews didn’t go in for big yachts and a fleet of aircraft — they showed off by way of philanthropy or by raising brilliant offspring. They sympathized with the civil rights movement.

It is safe to assume that if Black Lives Matter had condemned “genocide” of black people in the United States, that language would not have been objectionable to club owners and Jewish organizations. In fact, some in the civil rights movement have made just that assertion without an uproar from the Israel lobby. But now the civil rights movement is saying Palestine is important. And they have traction on the left. It is getting harder and harder to straddle the claims of being both progressive and pro-Israel.

Black4Palestine just posted that very point, off this news:

And so it begins…Folks are not truly committed to the anti-racism of the Movement for Black Lives if they can’t take action against Israel’s inherently racist relationship to Palestinians.

Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Ofer Neiman.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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17 Responses

  1. Rusty Pipes
    September 9, 2016, 2:38 pm

    Are people in the entertainment industry more afraid that supporting BLM will get them on the new Blacklist or that supporting BLM is becoming the new Black?

  2. Ismail
    September 9, 2016, 4:11 pm

    I think that Phil is frequently guilty of reflexively celebrating the silver lining while ignoring the cloud. But this makes me see things more from that perspective.

    Don’t be sad that BLM lost a showcase. I think it’s a fine thing to reveal the contradictions implicit in the coexistence of liberal sympathy for BLM and antipathy towards the rights of Palestinians. The fissures were there – let ’em spread. It’s good to know who your real friends are.

    Consider this a solidarity-building moment. Lose one evening at 54 Below, gain a stronger bond between two groups half a planet apart but joined by the experience of systematic, toxic racism.

    Silver lining!

    • Marnie
      September 10, 2016, 4:15 am

      “Silver lining!”
      Agreed. It’s best to find out sooner rather than later who’s in it all the way and who makes exceptions and will just get in the way .

      “As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert. We’re sorry about this unfortunate situation which has not dimmed our commitment to supporting social justice.”

      Not dimmed your commitment to supporting social justice? You just made your self-proclaimed commitment to supporting social justice null and void, a farce, and you’re a joke.

  3. Keith
    September 9, 2016, 6:05 pm

    PHIL- (Quoting Garrison Keillor)- “Jews didn’t go in for big yachts and a fleet of aircraft — they showed off by way of philanthropy or by raising brilliant offspring. They sympathized with the civil rights movement.”

    Garrison Keillor’s tongue must be numb from licking boots. The philanthropy of vulture capitalist Paul Singer and the civil rights commitment of Sheldon Adelson? And Larry Ellison doesn’t own a 454′ mega yacht? Apparently a lot has changed in 40 years. Part of implementing a successful Zionist plan?

    As an aside, philanthropy is a nice sounding label for privatized social engineering. No philanthropist ever made his fortune through philanthropy (usually the opposite), nor does this philanthropy ever conflict with the philanthropist’s wealth and power, rather, it protects and enhances that power.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      September 10, 2016, 11:59 am

      The worship of wealth need not wholly exclude other social values. Some feel that just being rich is not sufficiently glorious in itself: in addition, one should “do good”. As a result, some wealthy individuals wish also to be “great humanitarians and philanthropists”.

      There exists a special business that makes money by selling “philanthropic” fame. For a fixed sum you can have a concert hall, museum, hospital, college or whatever named after you (or a relative of yours).

      In certain circles kudos may depend on how much money you give away as well as how much you have. It is like the potlatch among the Kwakiutl of western Canada.

      While “philanthropy” is often just a means of cultivating a favorable public image, some wealthy people may be sincere in wanting to “do good”. Some authors even attribute the giving of certain individuals to guilt feelings about how their fortunes were made.

      Thus, it is claimed that Brooke Astor was ashamed of her family’s reputation as New York’s biggest slumlords. Carnegie, we are told, felt guilt over the workers killed in the suppression of the Homestead strike of 1892. Yet he also wanted “Carnegie Steel to come out on top” – and that feeling proved stronger than any sense of guilt.

      Ashamed or not, Astor gave nothing to the victims of her family’s rack-renting. Instead, she gave $200 million to cultural institutions. Carnegie endowed the arts and established libraries, but gave nothing back to the workers who slaved in the heat of his steel mills at poverty line wages – twelve hours a day, every day of the year except July 4.

      From: http://www.stephenshenfield.net/systems/capitalism/58-why-they-keep-piling-up-manure

  4. yonah fredman
    September 10, 2016, 12:57 am

    Some are practical and others are purists. The BLM people (and Phil Weiss) have chosen purity and language designed to alienate. We’ll see how this plays out.

    • yonah fredman
      September 10, 2016, 1:04 am

      The language of genocide is used against Israel in an attempt to make israel a pariah. America is in no danger of becoming a pariah. To compare the use of the term vis a vis america and vis a vis Israel is a weak point of argument. The bds movement and it’s agnosticism vis a vis recognizing israel has no analogy in regards to america.

      • biggerjake
        September 10, 2016, 1:22 pm

        The comments of yonah fredman vis a vis the truth are in a different universe…but to compare the words “yonah is a moron” and “all Israel apologists are morons” is a fair syllogism that leads us agnostic-ily to “yonah is an Israel apologist”.

        But vis a vis yonah and “vis a vis” I would have to say that “vis a vis” is one of his favorite terms vis a vis obfuscation and vis a vis trying to sound intelligent and vis a vis sounding vacuous .

      • amigo
        September 11, 2016, 8:18 am

        “Opinion Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

        Turning Israeli settlers into victims is the prime minister’s most staggering act of chutzpah yet. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948, when some 700,000 Arabs were forced to leave their lands. “. Gideon Levy

        http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.741296

        The question of the relationship, of Ethnic cleansing to Genocide has been addressed by the ICC .

        “The establishment of the ICC reinforced the links between ethnic cleansing and other offenses such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. In its finalized text on the elements of the crimes in the court’s jurisdiction, the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court made clear that ethnic cleansing could constitute all three offenses within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Genocide, for example, was defined as an act that may include the systematic expulsion of individuals from their homes; the threat of force or coercion to effect the transfer of a targeted group of persons was recognized as an element of crimes against humanity; and the “unlawful deportation and transfer,” as well as the displacement, of civilians were recognized as elements of war crimes.”

        https://www.britannica.com/topic/ethnic-cleansing

        There is over whelming evidence of Israel,s decades long program of Ethnic cleansing /Genocide and crimes against Humanity , (war crimes) ,against the Palestinian people , which continues to this day .The destruction and annihilation of some 400 Palestinian villages which included their places of worship followed by a zionist campaign both at home and in the diaspora to entreat Jews to plant a tree that would blot out any evidence of the existence of another people.

        And people like Yonah Fredman have the chutzpah to claim that Israel had no part in such crimes.

      • Mooser
        September 11, 2016, 3:03 pm

        “And people like Yonah Fredman have the chutzpah to claim that Israel had no part in such crimes.”

        No, “Yonah” believes, (as I’m sure he will be more than glad to confirm) that the world owes the Jews so much for past offenses against us that to hold Zionist actions or Jewish enabling to account is tantamount to an act of antisemitism.

      • amigo
        September 12, 2016, 12:34 pm

        “No, “Yonah” believes, (as I’m sure he will be more than glad to confirm) that the world owes the Jews so much for past offenses -” Mooser.

        That line of credit has long since been used up and the over spend charges and non sufficient funds fees will eventually come due. What with all those late charges , and failure to meet commitments , ( promises to end illegal settlement construction , take confidence building measures and a plethora of other broken promises ) Israel will never again be considered a safe risk.Time to send in the repo man.

    • Mooser
      September 10, 2016, 12:20 pm

      “Some are practical and others are purists. The BLM people (and Phil Weiss) have chosen purity and language designed to alienate.” “Yonah Fredman”

      “When the Jewish population of Spain in some future year matches the Jewish population of Spain in 1492, I’ll consider the middle ages to be in the past tense.” “Yonah Fredman”

      That must be “Yonah’s” warm-and-fuzzy language, meant to be inclusive.

      • Lillian Rosengarten
        September 10, 2016, 1:31 pm

        Who can explain the twisted ideology of a violent regime that arose from the ashes of genocide to become the leading terrorist in the world. This support of racism and hate by the US and Germany has certainly fueled anti-Semitism and Islam fear and hatred. Sadly, Zionist Israel is a pariah

    • Mooser
      September 10, 2016, 12:58 pm

      “The BLM people (and Phil Weiss) have chosen purity”

      And “purity” of course, is a very un-Jewish concept. Purity is reviled in Judaism. And a concept like the ‘purity of the land’ is completely unknown.
      ‘Hybrid vigor’ is what we’re all about!

      • echinococcus
        September 10, 2016, 2:20 pm

        One possible exception being the “purity of weaponry”

    • Annie Robbins
      September 10, 2016, 1:12 pm

      The BLM people (and Phil Weiss) have chosen purity and language designed to alienate.

      actually i don’t believe that’s true. people (as well as politicians, think tanks etc) use words and language (“language designed”) to communicate to their base as well as others who think like they do — as well as to convince others. if people who fundamentally disagree feel alienated that is a natural response, but it doesn’t indicate the intent of the communication was ‘designed’ to alienate, any more than your comment was necessarily “designed to alienate”.

      was your comment designed to alienate yonah? after all, you knew we wouldn’t like it.

      The language of genocide is used against Israel in an attempt to make israel a pariah.

      The language of genocide is used because people think the term best conveys the nature of the crime. there’s no reason to white wash what’s been going on for decades. as amigo points out, it’s israel’s actions that make israel a pariah, not the words people use to describe it.

  5. amigo
    September 10, 2016, 12:43 pm

    “The language of genocide is used against Israel in an attempt to make israel a pariah. ” yf

    Your a tad late Yonah , Israel is already a pariah state (sans frontiers ) and all accomplished by the said pariah entity.It needs no help from others in achieving this well deserved status.It is no coincidence that Israel is at top of the list of most hated nations on the planet year after year and rubbing shoulders with Iran and Pakistan and a few of the other suspect nations.

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