More artists boycott Israel, speak for Palestine

August 3, 2014
Explaining her decision to cancel a gig in Israel, Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor said: There’s not a sane person on Earth who in any way sanctions what the fuck the Israeli authorities are doing.' Photo: Photo: manalive/Flickr - CC By 2.0

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor has joined the growing list of artists who respect the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to isolate Israel, cancelling a show in Israel scheduled for September 11.

O’Connor told Hot Press on July 24: “Let’s just say that, on a human level, nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight. There’s not a sane person on Earth who in any way sanctions what the fuck the Israeli authorities are doing.”

Explaining the original decision to play the gig, the singer said: “Musicians are notoriously stupid/ignorant people and I didn’t realise — nor was I told by my booking agent or anyone else — that if I stepped foot there I would in fact be breaking this cultural boycott and may as well be shitting all over the Palestinian people.

“They were very well aware of the situation but they didn’t fill me in when they were trying to convince me for a year to do the gig.”

Hot Press reported that, by pulling out of the gig, O’Connor stood to lose a huge amount of money. O’Conner said: “Normally I get paid about ten grand for a gig, this offer was for a hundred grand.”

On July 15, Liz Lochhead, the Makar or National Poet of Scotland,

Lochhead, who has been involved in a number of cultural exchange initiatives with Palestinian writers, including a recent book of poetry, told The Electronic Intifada that day: “Last year I wrote that I would sign up to the boycott: I think it’s necessary, we’ve got to use everything in our power.

“It’s difficult, nobody wants to be against academic activities and the arts, but we’ve got to show that this state is a pariah.”

Lochhead’s decision to publicly endorse the boycott comes as part of a wider call made by Scottish campaigners to the country’s arts community to resist the presence of an Israeli state-funded theatre company at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Underbelly, one of the largest players in the Fringe, which is itself the world’s largest arts festival, was hosting Incubator Theater Company’s production of a play called The City.

Incubator is a Jerusalem-based group whose participation in the Fringe is being bankrolled by the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

Electronic Intifada said on July 31 that campaigners had succeeded in pressuring festival organisers into removing Incubator from Underbelly.

In the Makar’s formal public statement endorsing the boycott, she said: “This is part of a necessary process ... because we, the international community, must protest by any means possible Israel’s current actions in Gaza, and indeed its ongoing illegal treatment of all Palestinians.

“The state of Israel is guilty of war crimes. Its leaders should be charged with them, now. We must accuse our own government of complicity in these crimes.”

Meanwhile, an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron demanding an immediate halt to the arms trade between Israel and Britain, was signed by more than 21,000 people.

Rock star Peter Gabriel and film-maker Ken Loach were among signatories.

Other prominent signatories included: fashion designer Bella Freud, musicians Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Brian Eno and Bryan Adams; the writers Will Self, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Esther Freud, Laura Bailey and William Dalrymple; d the actors David Morrissey, Maxine Peake and Alexei Sayle.

In other news, English cricketer Moeen Ali has been banned from wearing wristbands declaring “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” while playing on the national team.

Ali wore the wristbands during the second day of the third test against India at Southampton on July 29. The International Cricket Council investigated Ali and ruled he was unable to wear them

An ICC spokesperson said: “The ICC equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match.”

Ali has raised funds for charities helping those affected by Israel’s war on Gaza. The England and Wales Cricket Board had backed his right to wear the wristbands, but the ICC has ruled against him showing solidarity with Palestinians on the cricket pitch.

But perhaps the least-expected show of support for Palestine by a public figure came when a member of British vocal group One Direction, Zayn Malik, tweeted “#freepalestine” on July 28.

It was retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, but Malik has also received many death threats for his stance.

The tweet came after Barbadian singer Rihanna tweeted the same thing, only to take it down minutes later.

NBA basketball star Dwight Howard also tweeted “#freepalestine” while pop star Selena Gomez posted an image to Instagram with the words: “It’s About Humanity. Pray for Gaza.”  Both have received widespread support as well angry abuse for their stand.

But while Malik spoke out for Palestine, Simon Cowell, whose TV show The X Factor launched One Direction’s career, reportedly donated US$150,000 to an Israeli soldiers fundraiser last year.

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