How Entertainers Are Bullied Into Not Performing In Israel
By Abraham Cooper & Harold Brackman
Israeli fans of golden oldies won’t be hearing Eric Burdon grind out his signature House of The Rising Sun. The lead Animals singer canceled his appearance, a victim of intimidation including death threats to stay away from the Jewish state.
Welcome to the ‘pro-peace’ bullies of the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a movement whose public face is a “nonviolent pressure to end the Occupation”—but whose thinly-veiled tactics range from “shunning” to threatening celebrities who refuse to cave to the ‘big lie’ that Israel is an ‘apartheid state.’
BDS’ fixation on celebrities into taking outlandish positions on the Mideast makes perfect sense. In our world, Celebrity=Media coverage.
UK’s self-anointed celebrity Middle East activists have brought a certain panache and chutzpah to their hypocritical anti-Israel street theatre. Last year, a letter signed by three-dozen British celebrities, including actress Emma Thompson, followed unsuccessful demonstrations to force a cancellation at London’s Old Globe Theater of a Hebrew language performance of The Merchant of Venice by Israel’s renowned Habima Theater. Habima’s alleged crime: “ a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Of course, these cultural icons’ selective outrage was absent, despite brutal Chinese repression in Tibet, when an official performance of Richard III in Mandarin was presented. Around the same time, “Beethovians for Boycotting Israel” sang their own version of the Ode to Joy repeatedly during a concert by the Israeli Philharmonic at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Some celebrities who have caved to pressure—such as Meg Ryan, Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, and Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg—gave the excuse of “scheduling conflicts.”
The mastermind behind this madness emanates from Omar Barghouti, cofounder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Born in Qatar and brought up in Egypt, Barghouti graduated from Columbia University before attending the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University. His “ethical theory” for brainwashing the celebrati against Israel is actually borrowed from pre-WWII Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci who argued that the way to defeat the enemy was not through economic struggles waged by workers, but rather by achieving “hegemony” over elite institutions and popular culture.
But while BDSers may be gleeful about their latest success in scaring off Eric Burdon from Israel, what have they actually accomplished? They haven’t improved the life of a single Palestinian. They haven’t won over a single Israeli that there is real hope for “the peace process.” Quite the opposite. BDSers have just made it harder for shuttle diplomat John Kerry–who just convinced Israeli PM Netanyahu to release dozens of jailed Palestinian terrorists with as a gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of renewed direct peace talks.
The BDS smokescreen that its boycott is only a limited, peaceful strategy to force Israel out of “Occupied Palestinian territories” is a lie. Just ask Norman Finkelstein—among the world’s leading Israel bashers—who ultimately couldn’t stomach BDS hypocrisy, scolding the Movement’s leaders: “Stop trying to be so clever, because you’re only clever in your cult. . . [It is] not an accident, an unwitting omission, that BDS does not mention Israel: they know it will split the movement, because there’s a large segment-component-of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”
For every Animal scared away, there are plenty of A-list entertainers showcasing their talents in Israel to their Jewish and Arab fans—including Aerosmith, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake. When Color Purple author Alice Walker—a fanatical BDSer who won’t even allow her novel to be translated into Hebrew—demanded that R&B star Alicia Keys not perform in Israel to avoid the “soul danger” of visiting “an apartheid country” practicing a discrimination worse than “American apartheid,” The 14-time Grammy winner answered this way: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.” By performing in Tel Aviv on July 4th, Keys declared her independence from intimidation and blackmail.
Memo to Palestinians and their supporters: want peace? Make a gesture to your Israeli neighbors that you are serious and send the BDSer bigots packing