June 03, 2012

Israel as the new South Africa

Here's an encouraging article from the UK's Independent on Sunday setting out how the BDS campaign against the State of Israel is starting to resemble the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era:

Some of the world's biggest stars – from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers – are being accused of putting profit before principle in a growing backlash against artists performing in Israel.

Campaigners angry at human rights abuses against the Palestinian people – symbolised by Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians and allowing Israeli settlers to take over their land – are demanding a boycott of Israeli venues in a campaign that echoes the 1980s protests against South Africa and the infamous venue Sun City.

Actually I sometimes think that some of the people performing in Israel are doing so on principle.  I mean some of them must be racists themselves.  Remember Johnny Rotten?  He didn't even pretend to support the cause of peace or justice for the Palestinians.  But then Madonna tried it on and apparently failed miserably:
Attempts by Madonna to deflect criticism by offering free tickets to local campaigners backfired, with a number rejecting the offer. Boycott from Within, an Israeli campaign group, accused the singer of "a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes". 
So what's given this recent boost to the BDS campaign? Well there are push factors:
Acts such as alleged war crimes during Israel's 2008 invasion of Gaza and the 2010 killing of peace activists by Israeli commandos on an aid ship are fuelling the return of an anti-apartheid campaign on a scale not seen in a generation. Saeed Amireh, 21, a peace activist from Nilin in the West Bank, said: "We don't have freedom of movement. They don't want peace; they just want us to disappear. They are suppressing our very existence."
and pull factors:
Calls for a boycott are supported by hundreds of artists around the world, from the film director Ken Loach to former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and the author Alice Walker. Artists such as Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello have cancelled shows after pressure from campaigners in recent years; Coldplay, U2 and Bruce Springsteen have declined invitations to play in Israel without supporting the boycott publicly. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rihanna and Leonard Cohen are among those to have ignored calls not to appear there.

And there are other artists who either support ethnic cleansing and segregation or are willing at least to turn a  blind eye:
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz and Guns N' Roses plan to play in Israel this year, prompting the campaign group Artists Against Apartheid to appeal: "As was done in the case of South African apartheid, please join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid." 
That call of itself is something to celebrate but get the sick bag ready:
The campaign has rattled the music industry, prompting a group of US-Israel entertainment executives to set up the Creative Community for Peace last year in an effort to counter the cultural boycott.
 Why can't they just be honest and call it Artists for Israel?  But if US-Israel entertainment executives can't be serious senior politicians in Israel are taking BDS seriously:
 a law passed by the Knesset last year means that people who call for a boycott could be sued in court. The Israeli government has also set up a committee to look at how to compensate Israeli promoters in the cases of "politically motivated cancellations".
Israel's President Shimon Peres admitted earlier this year: "If Israel's image gets worse, it will begin to suffer boycotts. There is already an artistic boycott against us and signs of an undeclared financial boycott are beginning to emerge."
In the UK the so-called Board of Deputies of British Jews is claiming not to be too concerned about BDS or the apartheid allegation claiming that:
comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa were "a specious and desperate effort by a failing boycott campaign".
That's an interesting achievement for BDS.  It's the first time I can remember the Board of Deputies disagreeing with the State of Israel.  The BoD claims not be worried and Israel is clearly very worried.

Well done BDS!!


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