MEDIA RELEASE: Music legend Stevie Wonder cancels Israel gig - cultural boycott of Israel victory
After receiving calls from members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement together with thousands of others from around the world, renowned music legend and civil rights leader, Stevie Wonder (62), has cancelled his scheduled performance for an upcoming Israeli fundraiser. Palestinian human rights activists are claiming this a cultural boycott of Israel victory. Wonder wrote in a letter to the BDS movement:
"[W]ith a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the Friends of Israeli Defense Force [FIDF] Gala on December 6th. I am respectfully withdrawing my participation from this year's event to avoid the appearance of partiality [toward Israel]. As a Messenger of Peace, I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere...Hoping for one world, one people, one day, Stevie Wonder"
According to the Associated Press
, Wonder said that the United Nations recommended the canceling of his performance because he is an official "Messenger of Peace" for the UN. On Thursday last week, the United Nations overwhelmingly voted to upgrade the status of Palestine over vehement USA and Israeli objections.
The soul singer, whose hits include "Isn't she lovely" and "I just called to say I love you", was scheduled to sing at a December 6 fundraising gala in Los Angeles hosted by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), a funding organization set up to sponsor those serving in the Israel Defense Forces and their families.
Muhammed Desai from the Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, commented: "We salute Stevie Wonder and hope that his decision will affirm other artists who are called on to respect the cultural boycott of Israel. Stevie Wonder has --consistently-- chosen the right side of history. Wonder publicly turned down a lucrative offer to perform in apartheid South Africa during the 1980s and in response to his track “It’s Wrong (Apartheid)” his music was banned by the South African government! Stevie Wonder refused to entertain Apartheid South Africa, and he has now chosen not to entertain Israeli Apartheid. He has, and is, setting an example."
In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a broad-based boycott of Israel as a way to bring Israel in line with international law. The Palestinian boycott of Israel has been modeled on the successful boycott of Apartheid South Africa. The boycott against Israel also has an increasing number of progressive Israelis who back the campaign. International musicians, artists, and bands who have responded and boycotted Israel in the recent past include Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Cassandra Wilson, DJ Cat Power, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, director John Greyson, the Pixies, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gorillaz Sound System, and the Klaxxons.
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