The management and agent for Afropop superstar Salif Keita canceled his
appearance at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival last week due to threats made
by the pro-Palestinian BDS movement to ruin his reputation.
non-profit organization, The Salif Keita Global Foundation, published a
statement on his Facebook page over the weekend addressed to “Sacred Music
Festival, Hadassah Hospital, Salif Keita fans,” that outlined the campaign
against his show, that had been slated for last Friday in the
The performer’s representatives “were bombarded with hundreds of
threats, blackmail attempts, intimidation, social media harassment and slander
stating that Mr. Keita was to perform in Israel, ‘not for peace, but for
apartheid,’” the post stated.
“These threats were made by a group named
BDS, who also threatened to keep increasing an anti-Salif Keita campaign, which
they had already started on social media, and to work diligently at ruining the
reputation and career that Mr. Keita has worked 40 years to achieve not only
professionally, but for human rights and albinism.”
Keita, known as the
“Golden Voice of Africa,” has released 20 albums in a career spanning four
The albino performer was slated to appear with Ron Shama in a
show called “A Celebratory Trans-Contentinental Groove.” Keita was also slated
to visit the albinism center at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center.
on Thursday, the organizers of the three-day festival received word of Keita’s
The Facebook post said that the decision to cancel the show
derived from the management’s concern “to protect the artist from being harmed
personally and professionally.”
“Although we love Israel and all his fans
here, and the fantastic spirit of unity of the Sacred Music Festival, as well as
the important work your hospital is doing for albinism, we did not agree with
the scare tactics and bullying used by BDS; therefore management decided to act
cautiously when faced with an extremist group, as we believe BDS to
“It is unfortunate that artists like him are threatened by this
group who falsely claim to defend human rights, when they should take their
concerns to governments or ask for support of their cause in a lawful way, and
not by endangering the freedom of expression of artists, or using harassment and
intimidation of artists who play for peace and for all people, in order to bring
some kind of justice to the Palestinians they claim to represent,” the Facebook
The South Africa chapter of the global BDS campaign
denied the allegations that Keita was bullied into canceling his visit to
“We would like to clarify to the world that we did not intimidate
the musician into canceling his performance in Israel as has been suggested in
the media by the musician’s manager,” Professor Farid Esack, chairperson of BDS
South Africa and former antiapartheid activist, told the Anadolu Agency on
Earlier this month, famed British rocker Eric Burdon also cited
threats and intimidation as the reason for the cancellation of his Israel
performance with The Animals. But Burdon had a last-minute change of heart and
arrived for the concert. Last week, former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters in an
open letter called for a full artistic boycott of Israel.
cancellation, the artist continued his program to donate several hundred
UV-protected sunglasses, UV-protected clothing, swim gear and hats to Hadassah
for patients with albinism.
“We hope that you will receive this donation
with the love it was intended to bring to the patients, as we determine a future
time to be able to perform in Israel, and visit your important center for
albinism and skin cancer treatment,” the Facebook post concluded.
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