Madonna meets with the founders of the Peace NGO Forum in Tel Aviv on the eve of her Israeli concert. (L to R) Wahat al-Salam, Director of the Palestinian Peace and Democracy Forum in Jerusalem Mutasem Hansna, Israeli Co-Chair Ron Pundak, Secretary General of the Palestinian Peace NGO Forum Saman Khoury, Anat Ben Nun Project Coordinator from the Israeli Peace NGO Forum Lior Finkel, Madonna, General Director of Peace Now Yariv Oppenheimer, Director of the School for Peace in Neve Shalom Ahmad Hijezi and Guy Oseary at Ramat Gan Stadium on May 30, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Europe)
Faced with calls to boycott Israel, Madonna sought to save face by turning her Tel Aviv performance tonight into a “peace concert.” Haaretz reports the singer “has donated 600 tickets to her show on Thursday in Tel Aviv to members of the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps, who are set to take part in a special tribunal on peace.” Hmm, who would take up an offer that is clearly meant to undercut the Palestinian civil society call for boycott? From the Alternative Information Center:
Pundits have analysed the reasons behind the disappearance of Israel’s ‘moderate peace camp’, a disappearance obvious in the Knesset and grassroots protests. However, what Israel’s deepening occupation and attacks on Palestinians don’t accomplish, free tickets to a Madonna concert will; Israeli ‘peace activists’ are suddenly visible . . .
The Palestinian-Israeli Forum of Peace Organisations, a long-defunct project of the Peres Center for Peace, took responsibility for distributing tickets amongst Israeli ‘peace’ activists and organizations. Yesterday the founders of the defunct forum, who do not even use the word ‘occupation’ in their glossy brochure about ‘peace’, what to mention Palestinian rights, had a photo-op with the material girl. In the past few years these so-called peace activists have been unable to mobilise 600 people for a demonstration against the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon, the 2008-9 Israeli slaughter in the Gaza Strip and construction of the Apartheid Wall (crimes which many of them actually supported in various stages). Yet 600 people were found to support ‘peace’ in exchange for a free ticket to hear Madonna.
Madonna is planned to perform in Israel, choosing to disregard many calls made by Palestinians, Israelis and internationals asking her to heed the Palestinian call for BDS and refrain from performing here.
Each and every artist playing Israel while turning a blind eye to its ongoing occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people, is also helping it maintain a facade of business as usual while sending a green light to the continuation of the systematic violations of international law and the disrespect of universally recognized human rights.
Madonna does not only keep silent about the elementary demand for Palestinian rights, she instead sides with the oppressor in her explicit support of the criminal Israeli regime.
Therefore, holding a “peace concert”, which utterly disregards Palestinian rights would be nothing but a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes – an effort that may only be carried out with the help and active participation of your organization.
It is an unfortunate situation that most Israeli NGOs will assist in such a re-branding campaign rather than shun away from it. We therefore urge you to side with freedom, justice and equality. Take these values seriously and refuse to lend a hand to the peace propaganda machine.
Anarchists Against the Wall are among the groups that said no to the free ticket deal. From the Israeli news site Walla:
The Activists of “Anarchists Against the Wall” (AATW) were surprised to find out they had been invited to Madonna’s concert at Ramat Gan Stadium (tomorrow). The invitation came as part of an initiative by Madonna, who had intended to hold a concert for peace, but when it was merged with the first concert, it was decided to invite peace organizations and human rights groups free of charge.
AATW Activists announced that they refuse to accept the invitation, because the of situation which Palestinians in the territories face. “Our friends are in an open-air prison and are denied the most basic rights,” said an activist in the group. “Our friends are prevented from coming to the show because they live under a policy of separation that prevents the freedom of movement.” We are not prepared to accept this bribe when our colleagues are in administrative detention, an open-air prison in Gaza, denied their most basic rights “.
“Madonna’s performances are just one example of the deliberate use of the international celebs in order to distract the world’s attention away from these policies,” the group added. “Madonna’s appearance amounts to an expression of agreement with apartheid.”
[Local] sources in the concert’s production told Walla! Culture that peace organizations had indeed been invited to attend the show, but the decision on which organizations should be invited had not been made by the Israeli production team of the show.
The show’s producers declined to issue an official comment on this.
The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement also said no:
The Solidarity movement, active in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, announced that its members refused tickets, stating that “when Madonna, who expressed more than once support for Israeli policy and its leaders, wants to have a peace concert, she empties the term ‘peace’ of any content. She is asking from us, the activists, to serve as a rubber stamp to present her in public relations as promoting peace in the Middle East when in actuality she does not know the occupation under which Palestinians live, and the regime of privileges and separation implemented by Israeli policy. We refuse to act as a public relations fig leaf on the backs of the Palestinians. This is not what we are fighting for.”