Alicia Keys to perform in TA despite boycott calls

"Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love,” the R&B singer tells 'The New York Times.'

May 31, 2013 23:03
2 minute read.
Singer Alicia Keys at the Superbowl, February 3, 2013

Singer Alicia Keys at the Superbowl 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes )


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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.

“I look 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 Tel Aviv.

Among those putting pressure on the singer to nix the concert were American author, poet and activist Alice Walker and Pink Floyd member Roger Waters.

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.”

“It would 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 exist.”

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.”

Rabbi 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 truth.”

He added that “Israel has said countless times that it is willing to sit down with the Palestinians without pre-conditions.

But Israel 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 Egypt.”

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