Macy Gray, boycott Israel!

February 8, 2011
Photo: Macy Gray/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

This went up on IS singer Macy Gray's Facebook page on January 17:

"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 wanna go. I gotta lotta fans there I don't want to cancel on and I don't know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?"

There are very straightforward answers to Macy's questions:

-Historical precedent. This is what worked for South African Apartheid. Artists boycotted, refusing to play in South Africa, and were part of something much bigger worldwide that brought down that structure.

-It worked because it took legitimacy away from that country's system. By performing in Israel, on land stolen from the Palestinians, is to bring an air of cultural credibility to that nation. Israel needs to be made into a pariah state until equality for the Palestinians is delivered.

Folks should send these reasons (and others) to Macy. Reuters has reported that she has announced on Twitter that she will indeed be playing Tel Aviv, but that doesn't mean further pressure can't work. An Israeli anti-Apartheid activist has also started up a 20 Days to Macy Gray Project page on Facebook to the same end.

The shows are scheduled for the 11th and 12th of February. If fans and other music lovers can manage to get her to boycott, it would put her in league with Elvis Costello, Gill Scott-Heron, the Pixies and many others. And, of course, it would be a victory for the Palestinians.

[Alexander Billet, a music journalist, writer and activist living in Chicago, runs Rebel Frequencies, where this article first appeared. A columnist for and the Society of Cinema and Arts, his articles have also appeared in Z Magazine, New Politics, CounterPunch, Socialist Worker,, Dissident Voice, the International Socialist Review, the Washington Peace Letter, MR Zine and among others.]

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