On Educating Stanley : Analysis of the First 2013 BDS Victory

Educating Stanley Jordan: Facebook Showdown Produces BDS Victory to Ring in the New Year

by Rima Merriman
(this piece is a sequel to Rima’s first article on Stanley Jordan and BDS)

On January 5th, to everyone’s surprise, noted American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist Stanley Jordan posted this news that was music to the ears of BDS activists everywhere: “My performance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival has been cancelled. I apologize for any inconvenience to anyone.” Those who had been tracking the debacle will know that this is a reversal of his earlier decision, one in which he had announced he would go forward with his gig. Although he did not say why, or even attribute his own agency in his new announcement, the backlog on Facebook is telling.

On Dec. 24th, Jordan posted this update on his Facebook page explaining that he had “received several messages from people requesting that I cancel my performance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel,” for which he was billed as the headlining artist for the Israeli festival (his image was used to create publicity posters in Hebrew for the state-funded event). In that initial post, he wrote:

I’ve received several messages from people requesting that I cancel my performance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel. I promised a detailed response, so here it is. I would like to start a dialog right here to discuss this topic. Next to global warming the Middle East conflict is the biggest issue of our time, and it’s too important for black-and-white responses that ignore the nuances. And we truly need an open dialog with a spirit of mutual compassion for everyone involved. For my part, I want to use my talents and energies in the best possible way for the cause of peace. This purpose is deeply ingrained in my soul’s code, and I’ve known it since childhood. So the only remaining question is: How can I best accomplish this goal? I invite you all to weigh in. I’d like to start the discussion by recommending a wonderful book called, “Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East,” by Rabbi Michael Lerner. I’ve been reading a lot on this topic but this book stands out for me because it resonates with my own feelings. I encourage everyone to read it as background for our discussion. And please keep your comments clean and respectful. Let’s model the type of dialog that will eventually lead to a solution.

His invitation came on the heels of an unsuccessful attempt to secure the compliance of the academic and cultural boycott by another jazz musician, Native American poet Joy Harjo who rejected the call and went ahead with her performance at Tel Aviv University. In that case, the “dialogue” was derailed from the get go by both her obvious disingenuous claims to solidarity with the Palestinian people and the persistent efforts of Zionist trolls that ended up colonizing her Facebook timeline. As such, Jordan’s announcement posed a challenge for all BDS supporters, especially those who work in concert with the Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Like Harjo, Jordan – as his subsequent Facebook comments revealed – had cited the spirit of his art and higher consciousness as a major reason for not honoring the international boycott.

The ensuing discussion on Jordan’s Facebook page was a remarkable drama for two reasons. For one thing, the hasbara trolls, who had plagued the discussion with Harjo, were nowhere to be found
until after (indeed, immediately after) Jordan announced his decision to cross the picket line. That announcement came on January 1st in a status update that read:

Our discussion revealed a crisis whose depth was even far greater than I had known, and I felt compelled to help. Like many others, I am deeply dedicated to the cause of world peace, and this situation goes against everything anyone with a heart could ever condone. However, after much consideration I concluded that the best way I could
serve the cause would be to do my performance as scheduled, but separately organize an event in a major city in the United States to raise funds and awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people.

Only after close to 600 comments (out of over 800 on that one thread) were posted by activists seeking to educate Jordan on all aspects of the plight of the Palestinians and the nature and objectives of the BDS appeal did the artist reveal that individuals from the Zionist contingent were in fact pressing their case with Jordan via private messages, out of the sight of the BDS activists.

Second, the absence of (overt) trolling allowed for an exemplary demonstration of what well-informed, dedicated BDS advocates can do with a thread if they are not constantly fending off accounts spouting Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs talking points. The result was passionate well-reasoned and forceful advocacy for the Palestinian cause from a diverse group of people on several continents, many of whom were unconnected with one another or had just become Facebook friends as a result of the virtual encounter. Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, Israelis, European-American settlers, Australians, Native Americans, and many others took part in the discussion which continued throughout New Year ’s Eve across various time zones on the globe.

It is worth asking why Jordan, who once publicly endorsed the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, was ultimately not convinced by the extensive discussion in which he actively participated, and what, if anything, it tells us about the efforts of PACBI supporters. One also wonders what it was that made Jordan reconsider. It would be really useful if he were to make a full clear statement of support for BDS in the future.

The ebb and flow of the discussion [highlights on key issues can be found here, in what eventually turned out to be a long thread of over 800 posts, shows how well the activists’ comments elaborated on and complemented one another. One person would drop an idea out there, and someone else would pick up on it. Great care was taken to remain respectful, as people tried to understand Jordan’s frame of reference and engage him meaningfully within it without patronizing him. One turning point in the discussion was an explanation of what constitutes being “in solidarity” in the human and civil rights movements. “Being in solidarity,” wrote Adrian Boutureira Sansberro, “entails being able to take direction from those one claims to be in solidarity with. Learning how to take direction, as to what is it that those we are in solidarity with wish us to do, is a huge aspect of shifting the relationships of power between the oppressed and the oppressor. It is also a way to really come face to face with our own true commitment and power issues.

One of the many things on which Jordan was called up is the claim that he had no prior political involvement as a musician. It became apparent, however, that he had, in fact, made very clear, public, and political statements on the subject of playing Sun City with fellow artists in 1987. At the time, Jordan had supported the spirit of the boycott but was never put to the test. But in the discussion thread, he waived off the contradiction between the principled stand he took then (and his position in support of various other human rights causes) on the one hand, and his reluctance to take a comparable stand on the boycott calls on the other. At that point in time, he appeared to want to have it both ways.

After Jordan made his January 1st decision not to support the boycott, some suggested that the entire dialogue was intended to provide cover to a decision Jordan never intended reconsidering. Others have pointed to the difficulty of responding to arguments one cannot see. I believed that, although he did come to see the justice of the Palestinian cause and even to sympathize with it, Jordan simply did not wish to let go of his gig for financial reasons (what he described as “the reality of my situation”). At one point in the discussion Jordan asked Israeli boycott supporters, “why should we outsiders bare [sic] the economic brunt of the boycotts? You want me to quit my job, so then shouldn’t you be quitting yours too? After all, any economic activity aids Israel and can be seen as de facto normalization.” In answer to that, people, of course, pointed out that being asked to cancel a gig is not the same as quitting a job.

Anyone who studies the thread can easily see that, throughout the discussion, Jordan and his publicist (who eventually jumped into the discussion in his stead) were searching for a line that would validate his strong desire to keep the gig but that would also allow Jordan to sympathize or “ally” himself (as opposed to being in solidarity) with the Palestinian people (hence, the charity concert that would follow in the United States). At that time, Jordan kept insisting that, as a musician he had no political role to play (even as it was made crystal clear to him that he himself was, in fact, being played by Israel’s politicians). He was just a guitar player. He felt his music went “to the heart of the subjective, interior dimension, and the world of all things spiritual” and had the power to “influence humans to be more humane”, so he just wanted to perform and to leave it up to his Israeli audience to “decide for themselves how to use the inspiration”.

Once his first frame of reference as represented by Lerner’s book was summarily critiqued, Jordan kept introducing into the discussion therapeutic frameworks, such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the study of the structure of subjective experience. He ultimately turned away from Ali Abunimah’s vision in One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, which posits that a principled and sustained campaign to impose a cost for Israeli government abuses of Palestinians would, in fact, ease tensions. As Abunimah puts it, once “freed from the hardships of occupation, discrimination, and exile, and engaged by Israeli counterparts genuinely interested in building a tolerant, multicultural, multireligious society, the Palestinian majority would gladly, forgivingly, and open-mindedly choose the same course.” To Jordan, it seemed that would never happen, unless people were “getting along first” – a catch 22.

Jordan’s initial inability to grasp even rudimentary facts about the campaign turned his statement, “You’re also educating me so that I can hopefully someday speak intelligently on this matter” into a farcical proposition. The Palestine Chronicle published an article I wrote after the January 1st announcement he would play, “Stanley Jordan: You Don’t Get to Peace without Real Solidarity”, in which this point was made: “Jordan is now trying to justify his decision by expressing inchoate beliefs about the power of his art to achieve “world peace” by “changing consciousness” while propounding the notion that the boycott undermines the freedom of the artist and limits the transformative power he possesses over his audience.

Now, in light of Jordan’s January 5th announcement that he will not play, he has demonstrated his decision to stand on the right side of history. Still, it would be ideal if he would issue a statement that explains what finally lead him to respect the boycott. But regardless, BDS activists who worked tirelessly to educate Jordan can claim this a victory – and we can all surmise that it was his conscience that prompted him to do the right thing.

Related Links

First Win for Cultural Boycott in 2013 : Stanley Jordan Cancels
Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS
Stanley Jordan, Please Respect the Boycott of Israel
To the Palestinian People – Against the Normalisation of Apartheid by Joy Harjo
Hasbara and the Case for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel
Everything BDS: Stanley Jordan: Don’t Cross the Picket Line
BDS Switzerland asks Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER asking Érik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER to Yuri Honing: Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel
Portico Quartet Respects the Boycott of Israel

First Win for Cultural Boycott in 2013 : Stanley Jordan Cancels

Stanley Jordan headlines 2013 Eilat FestivalBREAKING: American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist Stanley Jordan has decided to respect the cultural boycott of Israel, and cancel his planned appearance as the headlining artist for the Israel Red Sea Jazz Festival (his image was used to create publicity posters in Hebrew for the state-funded event).

Jordan engaged in a long discussion on his facebook fan page with many people including Palestinians. He initially chose not to respect the cultural boycott call but rather perform in Israel, and then hold a special event later on in the year to promote justice for Palestinians.


There is an outpouring of support for his decision to cancel ((see screenshot below).

Jordan’s cancellation comes on the heels of cancellations by other Jazz musicians who were featured artists at the same festival. Both Portico Quartet and Andreas Öberg refused to play in Israel. Groups in France and Switzerland are asking Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel. A Dutch group has asked Yuri Honing to also cancel.

Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

We are a group of 950 members, representing many nations around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians and other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.

JOIN Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel on Facebook


Stanley Jordan Cancels – Facebook Thread

Related Links

Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS
Stanley Jordan, Please Respect the Boycott of Israel
To the Palestinian People – Against the Normalisation of Apartheid by Joy Harjo
Hasbara and the Case for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel
Everything BDS: Stanley Jordan: Don’t Cross the Picket Line
BDS Switzerland asks Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER asking Érik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER to Yuri Honing: Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel
Portico Quartet Respects the Boycott of Israel

Stanley Jordan – “Love and Light” Isn’t Enough to End Apartheid

Stanley Jordan: You Don’t Get to Peace without Real Solidarity

by Rima Merriman

After putting BDS activists through their paces for eight straight days of discussion on his Facebook page, noted Jazz musician Stanley Jordan announced on January 1st, that he had decided not to support the call of the Palestinian civil society to boycott the upcoming Red Sea Jazz Festival this month in Eilat, Israel.

In his announcement, Jordan referred to a “spirited online discussion and much deep soul-searching” but did not give a reason for his decision. Instead, he avowed his dedication to “world peace” and pledged to demonstrate to the many activists who had contributed to his Facebook thread with over 800 posts of information and considered arguments – including two messages from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott – that he had “heard” them and was ready to make others hear their impassioned plea. Jordan had concluded that that the best way “I could serve the cause would be to do my performance as scheduled, but separately organize an event in a major city in the United States to raise funds and awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people. The time frame will be in September or October 2013.”

Though not unexpected, that “conclusion” was problematic for many BDS advocates. The discussion on the thread ranged over a wide variety of topics triggered by Jordan’s questions. However, there was one central issue that kept rearing its head: What does it really mean to be in solidarity with an oppressed people?

Besides Jordan, some artists, like Native American poet and musician Joy Harjo, who are approached by PACBI and asked to heed the Palestinian people’s call to honor the academic and cultural boycott – that is, to stand in solidarity – too often arrogantly assume that they can demonstrate their support by performing in Israel and then gesturing to Palestinians through other means of their own choosing, for example by arranging for a parallel performance in the occupied territory. That’s an offer that PACBI, which is represented by over 170 civil society organizations and is growing in international support daily, categorically refuses. The list of artists who have respected the call includes Santana, Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson, Massive Attack, Jello Biafra, Faithless, Leftfield, Gorillaz, Pixies, Gil Scott Heron, and many more that have refused to play for apartheid and is growing.

It is well known that Israel utilizes international artists as part of a clear strategy of normalization to try and legitimize settler colonialism, occupation, and apartheid. “Branding Israel” is a propaganda campaign financed by the well-heeled Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to showcase a side of Israel more palatable to the world. PACBI asks artists not to be complicit in these state efforts by not performing in Israeli institutions. Those who do not heed the call often end up regretting their decision, as has been expressed by Macy Gray, Pete Seeger, Richard Montoya and others.

Jordan is now trying to justify his decision by expressing inchoate beliefs about the power of his art to achieve “world peace” by “changing consciousness” while propounding the notion that the boycott undermines the freedom of the artist and limits the transformative power he possesses over his audience. By doing so, he has elevated the status as an artist as though he is ‘above’ human rights. True change of consciousness comes when the privileged use their power to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, not in telling them how best to resist – as he also tried in his comments on Facebook.

At several stages in the discussion, Jordan outlined his dilemma: “This situation and the information I’ve received has really moved me, and I regret that we have this sticking point about the boycott being the only acceptable form of help.” Activists pointed out that the boycott is one of the most effective ways to peacefully protest Israel’s deadly subjugation of Palestinians and one that is called for by those being oppressed. But more importantly, they explained what an act of solidarity actually demands. Adrian Boutureira Sansberro spelled this out most powerfully in his comments to Jordan:

“Firstly, we are in solidarity with the oppressed, not the oppressor. Secondly, being in solidarity entails being able to take direction from those one claims to be in solidarity with. Learning how to take direction, as to what is it that those we are in solidarity with wish us to do, is a huge aspect of shifting the relationships of power between the oppressed and the oppressor. It is also a way to really come face to face with our own true commitment and power issues. To do as we wish, is not being in solidarity. It is practicing supremacist charity. I say supremacist, because even when people claim to be in solidarity, they refuse to relinquish their own power and privilege as individuals. They refuse to surrender their own interests. They refuse to recognize that the collective must always be greater than the individual, or we are not in solidarity at all. We are then independent actors who cannot accept taking direction for whatever reason.”

In the end, Jordan was unable to relate to the above careful and important distinctions. He remained stuck on the notion of “help” in the sense of charity – thus his proposed charity concert in the US. “I would like to work in alliance with those who support the Palestinian people and, in the true spirit of alliance, have it be understood that there may be differences of opinion on how best to accomplish that.” Many people told Jordan that he could choose to do his own thing to show a sense of empathy or “an alliance” with the cause (as opposed to what is being requested of him specifically), but they also explained that such a choice would not be as effective and would certainly not be in solidarity in the true sense of the word, which is why Jordan’s decision not to support the boycott provoked Sylvia Posadas, one of his interlocutors to write simply: “So sorry you cannot fully support Palestinian people at this time. You have not been requested to give charity, but support for their ethical choice of tactic. In time, perhaps you will understand what ‘solidarity’ really means.”


Related Links

Spirituality, Stanley Jordan, and BDS
Stanley Jordan, Please Respect the Boycott of Israel
To the Palestinian People – Against the Normalisation of Apartheid by Joy Harjo
Hasbara and the Case for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel
Everything BDS: Stanley Jordan: Don’t Cross the Picket Line
BDS Switzerland asks Erik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER asking Érik Truffaz to refrain playing in Israel
OPEN LETTER to Yuri Honing: Boycott the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Apartheid Israel
Portico Quartet Respects the Boycott of Israel

2012 – A Great Year for Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

by DPAI (UK, Australia, Ireland, USA)

The year 2012 was an amazing year full of many successes in the campaign for the cultural boycott of Israel. This summary focuses on the cultural boycott with an emphasis on musical artists and groups.

The fall of South African apartheid was preceded by the movement by artists of conscience to boycott “Sun City.” A similar anti-apartheid movement is rapidly growing; and musicians increasingly do not want to perform in Israel.

The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Habima, Batsheva, and the Cameri Theater continued to be sent to perform abroad as “cultural ambassadors” for Israel. This year people who oppose apartheid gathered in many cities to raise awareness of the complicity of these artists. Almost all Batsheva performances were protested. Demonstrations took place in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Italy, throughout the UK and in Edinburgh, Scotland.

January, 2012: The Tuneyards cancel their gig in Israel. The lead singer Merrill Garbus is a signatory of the Artists Against Israeli Apartheid pledge.[1]

Jacques Ranciére, acclaimed French intellectual and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Paris (St. Denis) writes that he will not violate the boycott, and cancels plans to give public readings at Tel Aviv University. [2]

February, 2012: Award winning singer-songwriter Cat Power (Chan Marshall) cancels her gig in Tel Aviv, tweeting, “MUSIC IS HEALING AND IT IS NOT HUMANE IF ALL CANNOT HAVE THE CHOICE, THE RIGHT, TO ATTEND. H E L P, A W A R E N E S S”[3]

New York Indie band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart announce they will not play Israel. Israel’s “Walla” press reports the cancellation was political. [4]

Grammy-winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson was scheduled to be the featured performer at the Holon International Women’s Festival. Just days before her sold out performances, she politely bowed out, saying “As a human rights activist I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel.” [5] Wilson received letters of thanks signed by solidarity groups from around the world.

Israeli TV uses the term “refuseniks” to refer to Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, U2 and Coldplay. The term implies that these artists have a political reason to refuse to perform in Israel. [6]
Emma Thompson
March, 2012: The cultural boycott moves to New York City as Batsheva attempts to present Israel’s pretty face through dance; Adalah-NY volunteers are ready with their own performance outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Palestinian dancer Hana Awwad writes, “Exhibits and performances by Palestinian artists are systematically banned, sabotaged, and closed down by the Israeli occupation. Artists themselves are targets of violence, arbitrary arrests, and deportations.” [7]

Actors and artists sign onto a letter asking Shakespeare’s Globe in London to withdraw its invitation to Habima, and refuse to be complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land. Thirty seven artists sign, including the highly acclaimed Academy Award, Emmy and and Golden Globe winning Emma Thompson. [8]

Staying true to punk rock, Zdob si Zdub from Moldavia keep Israel off their tour plans. Punks Against Apartheid wrote a letter to the band in January, asking them to respect the boycott.[9]

April, 2012: The six member Irish band Dervish agrees to respect the cultural boycott, cancelling a series of planned shows in Israel, stating: “At the time we agreed to these performances we were unaware there was a cultural boycott in place. We now feel that we do not wish to break this boycott,” and adding, “Our decision to withdraw from the concerts reflects our wish to neither endorse nor criticise anyone’s political views in this situation.”[10] Fullset, also from Ireland, announce that they had not been aware of the cultural boycott, and cancel their concert in Israel on the back of the Dervish cancellation. [11]

The Mediterranean Delight International Bellydance Festival was slated to take place in Marrakech, Morocco. When it was uncovered that the festival was sponsored by an Israeli belly dancer, a campaign against normalization successfully shut down the show. Belly dancer Noor refuses to participate in the Israeli backed festival, and it was relocated to Greece. [12]

Qatar cancelled the Music and Dialogue Festival which featured Israeli musicians, scheduled for April 30 – May 4, marking another milestone for the growing anti-apartheid movement.[13]

Singer Macy Gray responds to a letter written to the Red Hot Chili Peppers asking them to boycott apartheid Israel. Gray reaffirms her commitment to justice when she tweets to activist Tali Shapiro (Boycott From Within) “Nvr give up the good fight Tali. Yer a great human. “ [14]

May, 2012: Huzama Habayeb, a Palestinian novelist, led an overwhelmingly successful academic boycott effort involving the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s planned book project titled Memory of a Promise: Short Stories by Middle Eastern Women was cancelled because nearly half of the authors (13 out of 29) withdrew their literary contributions in protest of the inclusion of two Israeli authors celebrated amongst ‘institutionalised’ Israeli literary circles. Habayeb wrote “My overly conscious heart was heavy. I cannot accept, ethically and morally, that my voice be shared equally with writers who reflect the voice of an obnoxious occupier” [15] Regarding the large number of authors who refused to participate, the center’s Director Kamran Scot Aghaie writes, “On balance, the net result is that the book project is no longer viable. Therefore, we are discontinuing publication of this volume.” [16]

Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup cancels his appearance at the International Writers Festival in Israel. [17] The Indian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (INCACBI) had written to him in February. [18]

Shakespeare’s Globe in London hosted Israel’s National Theatre Habima. A twitter campaign using #loveculture developed by Israel’s UK embassy was transformed into #loveculture hate apartheid, and made global trends. As Habima performed The Merchant of Venice, streets were filled with people, signs, and Palestinian flags outside the Globe. Inside, numerous people peacefully held banners, and mentioned Palestine throughout the performance. British actor and audience member, John Graham Davies arose, delivering Shylock’s famous line during the trial scene, saying “Hath not a Palestinian eyes?” – for a moment the production almost lost its balance. Davies was then promptly removed by hired security personnel. [19]

June, 2012: Israeli advisor to the Red Sea International Classical Music Festival, tells Haaretz “I can testify that more than once projects have been cancelled or postponed based on their ‘Israeliness.’ And again – these things are not said crassly, no one will say: we are conducting a boycott. The word boycott doesn’t exist, but the political situation of Israel also impacts this field.” [20]

Grammy-Award winning tabla player Zakir Hussain of India cancels his gig in Israel. Hussain was contacted by the INCACBI. [21]

Pulitzer Prize winner and highly acclaimed author Alice Walker declines the publishing of the Color Purple by an Israeli publisher, stating: “It is my hope that the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, of which I am part, will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”[22]

July, 2012: When a celebration promoting Israeli culture in Switzerland attempts to include the Palestinian dance troupe Juthor, they withdraw. Organizers of the International Folklore Encounters Festival, Fribourg had intended to bring Juthor onto the stage together with the Israeli group Shalom Israel. [23]

Rocker Serj Tankian releases Occupied Tears, raising awareness about Palestinian life under occupation. [24]

Ottawa musical group Three Little Birds sing Apartheid on CTV Morning Live, and are subsequently attacked by pro-Israel media watchdog HonestReporting Canada.[25]

Nino Katamadze’s five concert tour was quietly cancelled, Katamadze was contacted by Boycott From Within, and plans for a five concert tour in November were scrapped. [26]

Anti-apartheid fans of Hollywood actors Bruce Willis and Jean Claude Van Damme were relieved they cancelled their planned visit to Tel Aviv, where they were scheduled to attend a local premiere screening of their latest film Expendables 2. [27]

Controversial reggae artist Sizzla Kalonji cancels his gig in Israel after tweeting his disappointment that Obama had awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres. [28]

August, 2012: The importance of the cultural boycott was emphasized when reports reassured disappointed and, at times, angry Israeli fans that the cancellations of concerts in Tel Aviv by the Swedish Cardigans [29] and by Lenny Kravitz were for reasons not related to the cultural boycott of Israel. [30]

Highly successful protests of Batsheva take place in Edinburgh, Scotland. [31]

An Israeli website announced that English electronica big beat group Prodigy would perform in Tel Aviv. Emails from Prodigy’s manager showed claims the band would perform in Israel were completely false. The same site also made false claims that Jennifer Lopez and Bruce Springsteen would perform in Israel in 2012.

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg-South Africa, Student Representative Council passed a resolution that calls for the full cultural and academic boycott of Israeli institutions, stating they “will not participate in any form of cultural or academic collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions and will not provide any support to Israeli cultural or academic institutions.”[32]

September, 2012: Noted British theater director Peter Brook and the Bouffes du Nord theatre troop of France honored the call to boycott Israel, cancelling planned performances for December at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. Brook wrote: “The fact that the Cameri Theatre has accepted to support the brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel [in the West Bank] has made us aware that in coming to your theatre we would appear as a support for that brutal action. This forces us to decline your invitation to perform in your theatre. The decision is entirely ours, and not to come to you, it is our free choice. We know that there are many amongst you and in your country who share our attitude and it is them we wish to support as well as the people of Palestine.” [33]

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are asked to accept the anti-apartheid call, in a campaign that unites thousands in support for the cultural boycott of Israel. When the RHCP refuse to cancel their gig in Tel Aviv, internationally acclaimed Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila, tweets “we will not be opening for the red hot chili peppers on september 6 in beirut.”[34]

Palestinian film directors refuse to participate in the filming of 24h Jerusalem, and production is halted. Twenty directors, including Israelis, pulled out of the film project in support of the cultural boycott. Though it appeared to be a benign film about culture, it was actually funded in part by the Jerusalem Development Authority, an organization implicated in numerous violations of human rights and illegal activities against Palestinians. Enas aL-Muthaffar, filmmaker, wrote: “I refuse to be part of a peace propaganda machine that continues to ignore Israel’s cruel colonization of Palestine.” [35]

A survey done in Britain finds that one in four support a full cultural boycott of Israel by musicians. [36]

October, 2012: Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker, Palestinian spoken word artist Remi Kenazi and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters join dozens of other cultural workers to call for Carnegie Hall to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance.[37]

Hip hop duo Rebel Diaz, artist Narcenio Hall and Cairo-based art collective Mosireen boycott the two-day 2012 Creative Time Summit in Manhattan because of the summit’s partnership with an Israeli organization that is funded by the Israeli government.[38]

Ramallah-based Palestinian MC Boikutt, Syrian singer Lena Chamamyan, Lebanese MC Malikah (Lynn Fattouh), and Palestinian DJ Sotusura all pull out of the Salam.Orient cultural festival in Austria, because it is sponsored in part by the Israeli embassy. [39]

Turkish band Baba Zula’s concert in Israel was cancelled, while obviously not all cancelling performers have the courage to publicly state their reasons, it isn’t a surprise when they don’t rebook.

Remi Kanazi releases Normalize This! on youtube in support of the cultural boycott of Israel, explaining why normalization cannot lead to positive change.

November, 2012: The legendary Stevie Wonder (winner of 22 Grammy Awards and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award) makes international news when he cancels a scheduled December performance at a Los Angeles fundraiser for Friends of the IDF(FIDF), an organization that raises money for the Israeli army. [40] His statement is posted on the website of his radio station, Radio FREE KJLH 102.3FM.

The Cape Town World Music Festival had to do without one of its star acts when Pops Mohamed boycotted the event because of co-sponsorship by the Israeli embassy.

Ten talented young harpists bow out of the International Harp Contest in Israel, leaving only 22 non-Israelis to complete in the increasingly unpopular state sponsored event. In addition, acclaimed harpists Naoko Yoshino and Park Stickney also quietly cancelled their performances for the Harp Contest. [41]

At least 10 international actors withdrew from the IsraDrama festival, following last minute appeals asking them not to collaborate with the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv which performs in settlements. [42]

Zebda, a popular band from France, releases One life less-(une vie de moins), which draws attention to Israeli occupation, Gaza, and how children are affected by apartheid.[43]

Electronica musician and DJ Carl Craig of Detroit quietly cancels his gig in Tel Aviv.

Ross Daly, Giorgos Xylouris, Giorgos Manolakis, and Kelly Thoma cancel plans to play at the Israeli state sponsored Jerusalem Oud Festival, stating “After all, we’re musicians with feelings and sensibilities, not music machines which can operate under all and any circumstances.” [44]

Roger Waters, musician and founder of Pink Floyd, explains the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in his address to the United Nations on behalf of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine: “It aims, as many of you know, to bring non-violent economic pressure to bear on Israel to force an end to its violations, an end to occupation and apartheid, an end to the denial of Palestinians’ right of return, and an end to Palestinian citizens of Israel being required to live as second class citizens, discriminated against on racial grounds, and subject to different laws than their Jewish compatriots. The BDS movement is gaining ground hand over fist. Just last week I was happy to write a letter of support to the Student Government of the University of California, Irvine, congratulating them on demanding that their University divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.”[45]

December, 2012: The London-based Jazz group Portico Quartet, cancelled their planned concert for the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel. The band courageously voiced their support for the cultural boycott, linking fans on their Facebook page to the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s website. [46]

Swedish virtuoso guitarist Andreas Öberg was congratulated for cancelling his planned gigs in Israel, honoring the call for a cultural boycott of the apartheid state. Öberg let fans know about his cancellation on Facebook. [47]

A campaign launched July to persuade Woody Allen to shoot his next film in Israel failed. The goals of the movie were to “enable Israel to enter the world’s imagination in a way a billion dollars of hasbara (public relations/propaganda) couldn’t possibly buy.” In an open letter to Allen, he was asked “Would it not be more ingenious to develop a movie satirising Israel’s desperate attempts to obscure its crimes against humanity?” [48]

Looking ahead to 2013:

Bruce Springsteen’s choice to refrain from playing Israel in 2012 is a welcome one to anti-apartheid campaigners. Multiple claims in the Israeli press, as well as several campaigns to pressure Springsteen to play Israel, confirm that there are still major efforts underway to convince The Boss to ignore the boycott in 2013.

Israel tends to ask bands who previously played in the apartheid state to return. Bands whose members are Kabbalists are also often invited to play in Israel. All artists are invited to respect the boycott, regardless of their spiritual commitments and if they have previously played in Israel. Campaigns are already underway to educate artists involved with Lollapalooza Israel about the boycott. The catchy “lollapartheid” has already been used to describe the festival.

Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

[1] 500 Artists Against Israeli Apartheid http://www.tadamon.ca/post/5824
[2] Jacques Ranciére cancelled his visit to Israel http://thesip.org/2012/01/ranciere-cancellatio/
[3] BDS Victory: Cat Power cancels show in Tel Aviv http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora/bds-victory-cat-power-cancels-show-tel-aviv
[4] The Pains of Being Pure At Heart dismissed for political reasons
[5] Cassandra Wilson cancels Israel show: “I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel”
[6] From Israeli TV see 1.50 min [Hebrew] at:
[7] NY Activists protest Batsheva Dance Company performance in Brooklyn http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/ny-activists-protest-batsheva-dance-company-performance-in-brooklyn.html
[8] Dismay at Globe Invitation to Israeli Theater http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/29/dismay-globe-invitation-israeli-theatre?newsfeed=true
[9] Zdob si Zdub: Stand in Solidarity with Palestinians! http://punksagainstapartheid.com/2012/01/zsz-open-letter/
[10] Heeding boycott call, Irish band Dervish pulls out of Israel concerts
[11] http://www.facebook.com/FullSetBand/posts/432263436801746
[12] Israeli Orientalist Festival in Morocco Bellyflops https://www.kadaitcha.com/2012/04/21/israeli-orientalist-festival-in-morocco-bellyflops/
[13] Israeli-Arab Normalization Hits a Snag http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/israeli-arab-normalization-hits-snag
[14] The Blessings of 2012, an album http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=426830113999740&set=a.383361181679967.117866.100000182654841&type=1&permPage=1
[15] My ‘No’ says more, and matters more http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1894&key=texas
[16] Statement on the Cancellation of “Memory of a Promise: Short Stories by Middle Eastern Women”
[17] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4223273,00.html
[18] INCACBI Appeal to Vikas Swarup: Boycott the International Writers Festival 2012 in Jerusalem! http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1827
[19] ‘Hath not a Palestinian eyes?’: Protesters disrupt Habima performance at Globe
[20] Cultural boycott biting, but quietly, Israel Festival’s classical music advisor admits
[21] Zakir Hussain Cancels Performance in Tel Aviv http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1913)
[22] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1917
[23] Palestinian group Juthour withdraws from International Folklore Encounters Festival in Fribourg http://bit.ly/Yl9nvj
[24] Occupied Tears http://youtu.be/9Qtyw84F5DM
[25] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/canadian-band-attacked-by-israel-lobby-group-after-playing-song-titled-apartheid.html
[26] Nino Katamadze Will Not Play Apartheid Israel http://www.usacbi.org/2012/07/nino-katamadze-will-not-play-apartheid-israel/
[27] Expendables 2: Stallone, Willis and Van Damme will not come to Israel http://news.walla.co.il/?w=%2F6%2F2553554
[28] Sizzla Tweets about Israel https://www.facebook.com/notes/dont-play-apartheid-israel/sizzla-tweets-about-israel/446169305432463
[29] Tel Aviv Cancelled! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! http://www.cardigans.com/?sid=default&bfs=1
[30] Apartheid Israel: Lenny Kravitz is not Boycotting Israel, Be Reassured
[31] Hora, EIF 2012, Review http://www.edinburghguide.com/festival/2012/edinburghinternationalfestival/horaeif2012review-11441
[32] South Africa’s Wits University student council unanimously passes boycott of Israel resolution http://www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/08/university-of-witwatersrand-student.html
[33] Peter Brook’s Letter to the Cameri: “It is our free choice”
[34] Lebanon’s Mashrou’ Leila cancels on Chili Peppers after latter refuses Israel boycott call
[35] Jerusalem Development Authority Implicated in Boycotted Film Funding.
[36] YouGov Survey Results http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/0kh4fq1eb8/Jewish%20Chronicle%20Results%20120924.pdf
[37] Open Letter from Artists to Carnegie Hall
[38] Artists Cancel Creative Time Summit Appearances Over Israeli “Partnership” [UPDATE 7]
[39] Three more Arab performers pull out of Austrian music festival due to Israel embassy sponsorship
[40] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/rights-groups-launch-petition-thank-stevie-wonder-canceling-israel-army-benefit
[41] Ten Harpists Bow out of Apartheid Israel Harp Contest!
[42] http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4313061,00.html
[43] One life less-(une vie de moins) http://youtu.be/Cq2MpG4gQgk
[44] http://www.rossdaly.gr/en/news/102-oudfestivall
[45] http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/3140/roger-waters-specch-at-the-un
[46] http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2012/12/portico-quartet-respects-boycott-of.html
[47] http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2012/12/andreas-oberg-respects-cultural-boycott.html
[48] https://www.kadaitcha.com/2012/07/10/woody-allen-please-refuse-israels-hasbara-bribes/


Related Links

More BDS victories in 2012