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Despite Alicia Keys performance in Israel, BDS movement continues to grow

on 23 Comments
Video from the “Alicia Keys: Don’t Be Fallin For Apartheid, Cancel Israel” Facebook campaign.

The US Campaign the End the Israeli Occupation sent out the following press release yesterday:

July 4, 2013, Washington, D.C.- Despite more than a month of global appeals to cancel, music artist Alicia Keys is performing in Israel today.  After it became known that Keys, an international celebrity and a lead supporter of the NGO “Keep a Child Alive,” would be performing in Tel Aviv, thousands of individuals and public figures the world over have asked Keys to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.  Highlights of the campaign include a petition signed by nearly 16,000 individuals, and a statement by dozens of prominent African-American figures, including authors, academics, artists and clergy comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Jim Crow system of discrimination in the United States.  Keys has also received letters from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, as well as dozens of video pleas from around the world.

Activists, public figures and civil society groups globally have followed the lead of the 171 Palestinian civil society organizations that issued a call in 2005 for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  Israel has been repeatedly condemned for its Apartheid policies against Palestinians, including by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has stated that the only way to hold Israel accountable for its systematic human rights violations is a concerted, non-violent campaign of BDS modeled on the South African experience.

Keys’ performance comes after persistent efforts to draw comparisons between the struggles of African Americans and South Africans with the present-day experiences of Palestinians.  A columnist at NBC’s African-African news hub, The Grio, heavily criticized Keys’ decision to play in Israel, calling into question her right to portray the socially conscious musician Lena Horne in a film.  The statement of African Americans, which included Angela Davis, actress LisaGay Hamilton, Robin Kelley, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Bill Fletcher Jr., took vocal support of Palestinians by African-Americans to a new level.  “It was important to us to highlight the similarities we witnessed, and read about, between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the experience of African-Americans in the United States under Jim Crow,” said Fletcher Jr., who co-founded the group African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ramah Kudaimi of the U.S. Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation states that “Although it is disappointing that Keys has decided to go ahead with her concert in Tel Aviv and lend her name to Israel’s whitewashing of its crimes against Palestinians, the mobilization of so many groups and people to urge her to cancel is a sign of how much the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement for Palestinian right has grown. Keys will look back on this concert and realize that she chose to play in an apartheid state just as so many were deciding to stand for justice and no longer normalize Israel’s actions.”

Calls have also come from within Israel itself, such as from Tali Shapiro of the group Boycott from Within.  Ms. Shapiro has stated that “It is highly disappointing that after months of appeals from hundreds of organization and tens of thousands of individuals, Palestinian, Israeli and international, Alicia Keys has decided that ignoring reports, of an obvious humanitarian crisis created by Israel, is the proper response.”

Despite Alicia Keys’ decision to play, Palestinians involved in pushing the boycott said the campaign is bearing fruit.  For example, in 2010, an Israeli producer admitted to the Jewish Daily Forward that he had offered to pay the equivalent of a Madison Square Garden show to 15 artists, and none of them agreed. Now in 2013, artists can rarely perform in Israel unnoticed.

Many were surprised by Keys’ refusal to cancel despite having an image as a socially conscious artist and human being, with particular sensitivity and passion about children. Reports and statistics presented to her and her NGO and a letter from prominent Palestinian child’s rights and health organizations note that some 700 Palestinian children under 18 are prosecuted in Israeli military courts annually after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army.   Since 2000, more than 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained.

Rania Elias, an arts director in occupied East Jerusalem and member of the PACBI Steering Committee said: “When artists crossed the cultural boycott picket line in apartheid South Africa it was out of ignorance, the lure of money, or unconcern over human rights. Which one of these factors motivated Alicia Keys to ignore Israel’s occupation and apartheid and to allow her name to be used to whitewash its human rights violations against Palestinians?”

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23 Responses

  1. just
    July 5, 2013, 3:24 pm

    I’m not listening to her anymore. She is tone deaf, dumb and blind.

    There are plenty of other artists with a soul that I enjoy– like Mohammed Assaf.

    Thanks Adam.

  2. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    July 5, 2013, 4:13 pm

    So was playing a concert in Tel Aviv part of the deal for Keyes landing the role as Lena Horne? There are plenty of talented African-American actresses with more acting experience than Keyes.

    • Citizen
      July 5, 2013, 4:27 pm

      @ Rusty
      Ah-ha! That would certainly fit a pattern. It suggests a 4th catagory as to why artists crossed BDS against apartheid S Africa: Pure ego, enhancing career as a black multi-talented star, adding potential Hollywood star actress to her resume. Her justification, that is that her music was for all people, does not appear to include the Palestinians. If she thinks her decision die down, she’s wrong, although I’m sure her management has convinced her otherwise. Time for somebody to tell her if she really wants to be a great actress for the world, as well as a great musician-singer for the world, she should contact Vanessa Redgrave. Or at least learn about her–I don’t know if Vanessa is still alive…

      She’s still alive, and came out against cancellation of the Alan Rickman production, My Name is Rachel Corrie, and she bailed out some Engish Arabs from Gitmo.

  3. Ludwig
    July 5, 2013, 4:21 pm

    I applaud Alicia Keys performing in Israel. Those who have the courage to stand up against BDS win my respect.

    • Citizen
      July 7, 2013, 10:24 am

      @ Ludwig
      Those who stand up to AIPAC win my respect. That’s courage! You write like BDS has the power of AIPAC.

    • Sumud
      July 7, 2013, 10:42 am

      Those who have the courage to stand up against BDS win my respect.

      That says an awful lot about your “morals”.

  4. yrn
    July 5, 2013, 4:42 pm

    It was a fantastic concert, Israel loved Alicia and Alicia loved Israel.
    Sir Cliff Richard performs next week and so is Eric Burdon and Julio Inglesias all mentioned that there were constantly attempts to push them to cancel but the a reaction to those bully’s are,
    They are ridiculousness and pathetic.
    Alicia pushed away the BDS in a diplomatic way, but other’s speak up ……
    Neil Tennant from British music duo defends decision to perform in Tel Aviv amid pressure from pro-Palestinian groups to cancel show.
    When you’re the most successful British musical duo in history, you tend to attract some attention. But this is the kind of interest that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.
    “I don’t agree with this comparison of Israel to apartheid-era South Africa,” Tennant wrote. “It’s a caricature.
    Riahana is next, change your tactics, as those you mentioned don’t work.

    Suddenly Alicia is not talented anymore, how low and pathetic can you be.

    • elephantine
      July 7, 2013, 6:21 pm

      I’m not saying she isn’t talented. Her music isn’t my cup of tea, personally, but I can agree she’s talented. However this isn’t about talent. In my view, she’s just shown that her commitment to children’s rights is really only there when it’s convenient for her. You can’t possibly argue that ignoring and allowing herself to be used to whitewash those very crimes, as well as numerous others, both against children and adults alike, is all consistent with her attempts to portray herself as someone committed to children… It just doesn’t square up.

      The ONLY way you can justify it is by denying those crimes are committed by the State of Israel against Palestinian civilians, in which case you wouldn’t even deserve any attention or time from me or anyone. But otherwise, you can’t defend Alicia Keys’ decision to sell out on her principles (or demonstrate such principles were not real but rather some convenient PR move – whichever one of the two it is…) by ignoring Palestinian children in order to help Israel whitewash its guilt and responsibility for the children’s treatment.

      It’s just pure hypocrisy and exposed her serious lack of integrity.. among other things. Talent has nothing to do with it and is completely irrelevant in this case. The fact that you enjoyed the show doesn’t erase what she has revealed about her character, integrity and how easily she is willing to throw her ’cause’ under the bus when it conflicts with other (professional, financial, or?) goals. I call such people fakes. And to me, Alicia Keys demonstrated that she is a fake. It doesn’t change a damn thing that she’s a talented fake… she’s still a fake.

  5. john_manyjars
    July 5, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Everyone has their price, I guess.

    She’ll likely look back on this one day and regret her decision. Too bad, a waste of talent.

  6. kalithea
    July 6, 2013, 1:19 am

    What motivated her is all of the above summed up as HYPOCRISY. She’s a fake and I can’t stand to even hear or read anything on her. I’ll never listen to her music again or watch her perform.

    • Sumud
      July 7, 2013, 10:49 am

      I’ll never listen to her music again or watch her perform.

      +1. I’ve liked her a lot until this and have most of her music.

      Shame on you Alicia Keys, a pro-apartheid black woman.

      Almost as disgusting as Obama trying to cosy up with Nelson Mandela recently, trying to restore some of his shattered credibility. You can’t be anti-apartheid in SA and pro-apartheid in Israel, that just makes you a craven Uncle Tom.

      • just
        July 7, 2013, 6:48 pm

        “You can’t be anti-apartheid in SA and pro-apartheid in Israel, that just makes you a craven Uncle Tom.”

        Genius, Sumud.

  7. Oscar
    July 6, 2013, 9:41 am

    It’s a safe bet that she’s probably already mortified by the reaction, and regrets that she locked herself into the concert appearance. There were people around her telling her she couldn’t cancel, that it would have adverse effects on her career. She probably had no choice but to ignore the calls to cancel. She paid a major price for it.

  8. jon s
    jon s
    July 6, 2013, 10:20 am

    Good for her, not giving in to all the pressure and threats!

    What I don’t get is this business of putting her kid on the stage:

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      July 6, 2013, 3:23 pm

      Yeah, who cares if the people she’s singing to have been oppressing a nation for three generations???

    • eGuard
      July 7, 2013, 9:53 am

      Which threats?

    • Citizen
      July 7, 2013, 10:35 am

      It shows just how egotistical and self-centered she is. She thought it was cute. Assumed the audience would too. If the kid lived in Gaza he could look forward to an American gift: an F-16 dropping white phosphorus on him. He’d jump around even more.

  9. Reds
    July 6, 2013, 11:24 am

    Lupe Fiasco

    Lupe Fiasco’s Recognition of Palestine

  10. eGuard
    July 6, 2013, 9:24 pm

    Ask Harry Belafonte.

  11. NLN
    July 7, 2013, 4:54 am

    I went to the show in Tel Aviv and it was amazing. It made me proud, as an Israeli, and proud of Alicia for standing up to anti-Jews and anti-Israelis and following her own truth. She is standing on the right side of history.

    • Citizen
      July 7, 2013, 10:36 am

      Yeah, she’s standing on the right side of history, the far, far right.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      July 7, 2013, 10:40 am

      noob, there is nothing”anti-Jew” in BDS. Perhaps if you would seek counseling, you could get help for your pathetic victimhood-mongering.

    • Sumud
      July 7, 2013, 10:51 am

      Who are these “anti-jews”?

      Proof please, links.

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