To Play, or Not to Play- The Call for Musicians to Cancel Shows in Israel
Incubus is scheduled to perform in Israel this summer, ignoring pleas from the Palestinian and the human rights community to cancel the shows. The Backstreet Boys also ignored requests to cancel their shows.The popular 90s boy band played in Israel on three separate nights earlier this month.
Incubus is scheduled to perform in Israel on June 9, as increasing calls to cancel their show have echoed throughout the music community. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has released a letter appealing to Incubus to cancel their concert, questioning how the band can perform, “while Israel continues unabatedly with its severe oppression against the Palestinian people”.
Attempts at reaching out to reps for both Incubus and Backstreet Boys have gone unanswered and unreturned.
Other artists who were scheduled to perform in Israel have had mixed reactions to requests to cancel their shows.
Artists, who have retracted on their initial agreement to play in Israeli, include Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Annie Lennox, Primus, and Lauryn Hill. Other artists, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, and Justin Timberlake have performed, ignoring the call from supporters for fair treatment of Palestinians and to cancel their shows in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Rihanna, who also performed in Israel, made a gesture of support by tweeting #freePalestine, but soon after deleted her comment. Alicia Keys performed as well, ignoring pleas from both Alice Walker, famed author of “The Color Purple”, as well as Pink Floyd’s co-founder Roger Waters. In a letter addressed to Keys, Walker warned that by performing in Israel, Keys is putting her soul “in danger” and compared Israeli policies against Palestinians to that of US policies towards blacks (pre-civil rights). Famed singer and UN Global Ambassador Dionne Warwick, who is scheduled to perform in Israel, also received a plea from Roger Waters to not perform in Israel. Warwick released a statement of her own, saying that she will “never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel.”
The past two years have brought about a major shift in what once seemed to be a never ending stronghold on the American public by Israeli lobby groups, such as AIPAC.
Israel is a heavy handed, military enforced, US financially backed government that shamefully self-proclaims itself as the “Only Democracy in the Middle East.”
It relies heavily on the annual $3 BILLION of US tax payers money to maintain its undeniably racist and violent state. The “only Democracy in the Middle East” does not allow Palestinians to enter certain towns, does not allow Palestinians to walk on certain streets, has a different colored license plate to identify Palestinian cars, and issues colored ID cards for Palestinians.
Palestinian children are denied access to healthcare, sanitary food, water and medication. They are denied visiting relatives in other areas. They are taken from their homes in the middle of the night, dragged out by fully armed Israeli military in front of their terrified families, who are left behind wondering when they will see their family member again.
What once was considered taboo is now a popular voice of an ever-growing crowd coming together for a united cause. BDS is at the forefront of that movement, and is essential to steering the future of Palestinian rights in Israel in the right direction. For every musician willing to perform in Israel, there is another musician willing to make a stand against injustice.
We already know where Back Street Boys stand on this issue. Only time will tell which side of history Incubus will be on.