Acclaimed musical artist Lauryn Hill on Monday canceled a planned concert in Tel Aviv after a coordinated effort by activists and fans pressuring her to boycott Israel over its discriminatory policies towards Palestinian citizens and other minorities, as well as its military occupation of Palestinian territories.
In a statement posted to her Facebook page, Hill attributed the cancellation to her team’s inability to host concerts in both Tel Aviv and the West Bank city of Ramallah — not pressure from activists who spearheaded the campaign.
“When deciding to play the region, my intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah,” said Hill. “Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge.”
“It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel, and seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region,” Hill added.
Nevertheless, Hill’s cancellation was lauded by Palestine solidarity activists.
“Palestinian rights activists are celebrating today’s announcement by Lauryn Hill that she is canceling her concert in Tel Aviv, which was scheduled for May 7,” read a press statement issued Monday by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups.
Hill’s announcement came after more than 11,000 people asked Hill to cancel the concert via petition, and activists made creative songs and videos — including a spoof of Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” based on Israel’s latest war on Gaza, the release said.
“The New York Times and other outlets have documented how Israel has prioritized art and culture as a means of branding to whitewash its human rights violations, so an artist cancellation like this is a big step in the way of responding,” Andrew Kadi, co-chair of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, said in the release.
The Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) — modeled after a similar campaign to end Apartheid in South Africa — is an international drive that aims to end Israel's abuses against Palestinian human rights. The campaign was launched in 2005 by 171 Palestinian civil society groups promoting nonviolent resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
Answering the call of the BDS campaign, other well-known artists, writers and musicians have canceled or said they would not perform in Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights. The list of celebrities who have boycotted Israel includes Talib Kweli, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and Sinead O’Connor.