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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.