R&B singer Alicia Keys said on Friday that she will go ahead with her July
performance in Israel, despite calls from other artists and the Boycott,
Sanctions and Divestment movement for her to cancel the event.
forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant
to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” Keys
said in a statement to The New York Times.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
lauded her decision, describing it as “courageous.”
Days after Keys had
originally confirmed her performance, the BDS movement began to turn its cogs,
as websites, Facebook pages, and petitions urged her to cancel plans to play in
Among those putting pressure on the singer to nix the concert
were American author, poet and activist Alice Walker and Pink Floyd member Roger
In an open letter, Walker urged Keys to cancel the performance
and join the cultural boycott of Israel. Likening the situation to that of
America before the Civil Rights Movement, Walker said that boycotting
institutions and products can act as a nonviolent option to end an apartheid
“less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people.”
grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing
in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious
artists,” Walker said.
Walker has been a long-time activist of
Palestinian rights, and visited Gaza in 2008. In the open letter, she urged the
singer to do the same, telling her to “sing to them of our mutual love of all
children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they
Turning to America’s support of Israel, the author claimed the
Obama administration “in particular” supports a system that is “cruel, unjust,
and unbelievably evil.”
Meanwhile, Waters said Key’s appearance would,
“... give legitimacy to the Israeli government policies of illegal, apartheid,
occupation of the homelands of the indigenous people of Palestine.”
Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that,
“Equating Israel with apartheid South Africa is a sinister distortion of the
He added that “Israel has said countless times that it is willing
to sit down with the Palestinians without pre-conditions.
cannot be expected to make peace with Hamas, a terrorist organization committed
to Israel’s destruction, just as African-Americans cannot make peace with the
KKK,” Hier said. He pointed to “what is happening in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and
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