January 21, 2011
Earlier this week, American R&B/soul singer-songwriter Macy Gray began contemplating the call for boycott and wrote the following on her Facebook page:
I’m booked for 2 shows in Tel Aviv. I’m getting a lot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians. What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wana go. I gotta lotta fans there I dont want to cancel on and I … dont know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?
The cultural boycott of Israel’s systems of apartheid and occupation is just as important as the consumer boycott of companies like Ahava. For an artist to perform in an apartheid state is wrong, especially considering that those living under apartheid are often blocked from attending performances by checkpoints, discriminatory permit systems and persistent military and police brutality. To reap profits from such an event is to add insult to injury.
In addition, Palestinian artists have been punished for decades. Musical groups have been prevented from performing abroad, arrested based on song lyrics, and are daily subjected to the injustices of occupation like all other Palestinians.
To treat an apartheid state as if it were “normal” is to implicitly condone its policies.
Also, if you have a Facebook account you can visit Macy’s official page and tell her what you think! (You have to “Like” her page first.) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Macy-Gray-Official/176046896552
If you’re unsure whether or not cultural boycott can make a difference, it’s instructive to remember that one of the strongest tools of pressure to end South African apartheid was the refusal of performance artists and other cultural ambassadors to appear there. South Africans of conscience and supporters around the world rallied performers to this end, until the apartheid regime was deposed.
Inspired by this example, Israelis of conscience and supporters around the world have joined Palestinians to call for a similar cultural boycott of Israel until it ends its occupation and discriminatory policies. Many artists have responded by canceling appearances in Israel. These include: Carlos Santana, Gil Scott Heron, Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Devendra Banhart, the Tindersticks, Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman, among others.
These cancelations, along with other boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) victories, send a message that there will be no “business as usual” with Israel as an apartheid state, arousing unprecedented concern amongst Israelis about the growing cost of their country’s behavior.
These means of pressure are nonviolent, they can work, and right now we have an exciting opportunity to boost their success!
Cultural boycott of Israel is part of a broader 2004 call from a coalition of dozens of Palestinian civil society organizations: the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Read their clearly worded call.
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation