Palestinian rights activists are celebrating today’s announcement by Lauryn Hill that she is cancelling her concert in Tel Aviv, which was scheduled for May 7.
The singer posted the announcement on her Facebook page Monday, writing: “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. May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people.”
Haidar Eid, a Gaza-based steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said: "We're delighted that Lauryn Hill has decided not to perform in Israel. A growing number of mainstream artists are catching up with public opinion and now understand that playing in Israel helps it to whitewash its colonial oppression of Palestinians. Israeli promoters are finding it increasingly difficult to book big names to perform in Israel."
Hill’s cancellation comes after an international campaign urging her to respect the Palestinian call to boycott Israel. In response to a direct appeal to Lauryn Hill from Palestinian activists, thousands of Lauryn’s fans took action: more than 11,000 people asked Hill to cancel via petition; activists made creative songs and videos; and organizers collected and shared a series of letters from fans encouraging Lauryn to boycott.
“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," said Andrew Kadi, co-chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
“It is incredible to see Ms. Hill respond so positively to our grassroots campaign. Many engaged with social justice movements in the United States adore her music, since she speaks powerfully to oppression and injustice.” said Sasha Gelzin of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. “When connections are being made by people in the streets between struggles here and in Palestine, like in Baltimore and Ferguson, we are so grateful that Ms. Hill is making those connections too.”
Following the lead of 171 Palestinian civil society organizations that issued a call in 2005, people of conscience around the world have embraced a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel over its discriminatory regime and abuses of Palestinian human rights. Lauryn Hill joins many other well-known artists, writers and musicians that have cancelled or pledged to refrain from performing in Israel until Israel respects Palestinian rights, including Talib Kweli, Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor, and many others.
Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian performance artist based in the United States, said: "As a Palestinian artist who has immense respect for Ms. Lauryn Hill's work inside and outside of the recording studio, it is thrilling to hear that she canceled her concert in Israel. As Israel's policies of occupation, dispossession, and discrimination intensify, it is even more crucial for artists to refuse to do business with a state that uses concerts, plays, and ballets to whitewash its crimes against Palestinians."