Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File].
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Out of solidarity with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, British musician Brian Eno has refused permission for an Israeli dance company to use his music, citing alleged efforts by the Israeli government to misuse artists to whitewash its crimes.
Eno’s action is the latest outcome of longstanding efforts by BDS activists to influence artists, to gain legitimacy and amplify their message by preying on artists’ natural affinity for those perceived as victims and appealing to a call for “human rights” for the Palestinians.
Eno surely has noble intentions, hoping, as we do, for an end to conflict and the realization of a true peace based on justice. He most certainly believes that his actions will lead to this long desired outcome. But we at Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) can’t help but wonder if he is aware of the true aims of the movement with which he has joined forces.
Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the cultural wing of the BDS movement, has explicitly stated that the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories, which many people believe to be the end goal of BDS, would not end calls for boycott.
Instead, BDS demands the full “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to homes that were vacated in 1948. This, Barghouti has pointed out, would result not in a Palestine next to an Israel, but rather a “Palestine next to a Palestine.” In other words, the end of the State of Israel and Jewish self-determination.
Thankfully, major artists supporting BDS are few and far between. Hundreds of international artists, including Sia, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Alicia Keys, One Republic, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Dionne Warwick, The Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber and many, many others have and will continue to perform in Israel and raise their voices loudly for peace.
In response to Eno, the Batsheva dance company’s artistic director and frequent critic of the Israeli government Ohad Naharin wrote: “If boycotting my company would help the Palestinian people, then I would boycott my own show. If the boycott of my work could bring a peace treaty, I would be the happiest person in the world. But I know it would be useless.”
We, and the more than 30,000 people who have signed our anti-boycott petition, could not agree more. BDS does not help Palestinians and will not bring peace.
The BDS movement is anti-peace and anti-coexistence. Through its anti-normalization campaign, it aims to keep Israelis and Palestinian apart, never giving them the chance to gain understanding of and empathy for one another, though both are crucial requirements for realizing a true peace based on justice.
We believe art and music, through their ability to unite, can help bring this true peace to fruition. We are deeply saddened to see an artist such as Brian Eno support the BDS movement and deny his music to Batsheva.
We hope Eno will reflect on the fact that the Israeli government would fund a dance company led by a fierce critic of its policies, that the company would then choose to use music created by a fierce opponent of Israel, and then just maybe come to the conclusion that Israel is an imperfect but strong democracy worthy of engagement rather than boycotts.
Peace depends on it.David Renzer is co-founder of Creative Community for Peace and chairman of the Spirit Music Group. Steve Schnur is co-founder of Creative Community for Peace and worldwide executive and music president of Electronic Arts.