Thursday, October 11, 2012

Will Performing in Israel, Advocate Somehow for Peace?

Some artists erroneously think that they should play in Israel, and BREAK the boycott and thereby spread a message of peace.

Roger Waters played in Israel, under the misguided notion that his concert was for peace.  His concert in Israel drew many fans, but it did not result in any changes for Palestinians under occupation.  His concert did not lead to peace, nor did the fact that 60,000 concertgoers viewed this video of the wall and its effects, which he screened during his concert in Israel:

Now the former Pink Floyd legend is one of the strongest advocates for the boycott.  Waters said:

Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa's Sun City resort until apartheid fell and white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel until the day comes – and it surely will come – when the wall of occupation falls and Palestinians live alongside Israelis in the peace, freedom, justice and dignity that they all deserve [1]

The difference is that now Waters realizes that the best way forward is to respect what the majority of Palestinian Civil Society has called for:  the boycott.  

Palestinian Civil Society has called for a boycott.  Even artists who happen to disagree with the boycott, should still respect it.   “Normalization” does not lead to peace, and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel makes that clear:  

As was the case in the international struggle against apartheid in South Africa, taking guidance from broadly-endorsed representatives of the oppressed, in this case the Palestinian leadership of the BDS movement, the BNC, and respecting boycott guidelines set by the great majority in the oppressed society is an ethical obligation for any conscientious person or group genuinely standing in solidarity with the oppressed [2].

Natacha Atlas

Natacha Atlas, felt somehow her concert in Tel Aviv would also lead to peace, but she publically changed her mind, and announced via facebook that respecting the boycott has an impact:

I had an idea that performing in Israel would have been a unique opportunity to encourage and support my fans' opposition to the current government's actions and policies. I would have personally asked my Israeli fans face-to-face to fight this apartheid with peace in their hearts, but after much deliberation I now see that it would be more effective a statement to not go to Israel until this systemised apartheid is abolished once and for all. Therefore I publicly retract my well-intentioned decision to go and perform in Israel and so sincerely hope that this decision represents an effective statement against this regime [3].


Among those who embrace justice, human rights, and freedom, there is enormous support for any artist who decides to cancel a planned concert in Israel.  The list is growing of artists of conscience who have refused to play in Israel.  


[1] Waters’ full statement can be read at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/11/cultural-boycott-west-bank-wall   
[2] Debating BDS:  On Normalization and Partial Boycotts http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1850
[3] See Natacha’s post at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=257850224253526&id=125501987488351