FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2013, New York, NY – A delegation of Palestinian-Americans, representing coalitions of over 500 US organizations, delivered a petition today signed by over 12,000 people to the New York City office of Alicia Keys’ nonprofit fighting HIV/AIDS, Keep a Child Alive, calling on Keys to cancel her July 4th concert in Israel. The petition asked Keys “to stand on the side of justice and cancel her gig in Tel Aviv, Israel,” and to “join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid. The petition’s 12,000+ plus signers outnumber the audience expected to attend her Tel Aviv show.
The delegation met with staff at the organization, who explained that they were aware of the ongoing efforts to encourage Keys’ cancellation. Delegates passed along materials that included details of the global boycott campaign and reports from rights organizations documenting Israel’s violation of Palestinian children rights, which they confirmed Keep a Child Alive’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Twyman, received.
Keys recently told the New York Times that she planned to go ahead with the show, despite letters calling on her to cancel from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Cultural Boycott of Israel, US novelist Alice Walker, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and the Israeli group, Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from Within. In an opinion piece in NBC’s The Grio entitled “Alicia Keys Planned Israel Concert Inspires Backlash from Black Peers,” Michael Arceneaux suggested, “as unifying as much music can be, sometimes the people need more than just a song. Our stars need to step up.”
Andrew Kadi of the USCEIO who delivered the petition explained, “We assume Alicia Keys wasn’t familiar with Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights, when scheduling, because her performance is legitimizing a country that systematically undermines her nonprofit’s mission, that ‘every person has the right to health care and that all children deserve a future.’ Israel routinely denies Palestinians health care and systematically destroys the futures of Palestinian children, denying their rights to education and health care, and regularly arresting Palestinian children and then torturing the vast majority of them, according to a report we left for her from Defence for Children International Palestine.”
In response to Israel’s large-scale abuses of Palestinian rights, Palestinian civil society launched a call for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel in 2005, modeled on the call by black South Africans for a boycott of apartheid South Africa that helped bring an end to the racist system. In response, numerous musicians, including Elvis Costello, Santana, The Pixies, and others have cancelled concerts or refrained from playing in Israel. In May, physicist Stephen Hawking cancelled his planned participation in a conference in Israel, responding to Palestinian requests.
Nada Elia from US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, noted, “Her show won’t support peace and love, as she hopes, but will instead help whitewash Israeli apartheid. Playing in Tel Aviv is equivalent to performing in apartheid South Africa’s Sun City in the 1980s, despite the ANC’s call for a boycott. We urge Ms. Keys to stand on the right side of history, with justice and human rights of the disenfranchised, and to cancel her show in Israel.”