PACBI Statement

Dubai: Tell Alicia Keys those who entertain apartheid Israel are not welcome!

August 2, 2013

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) call on our sisters and brothers in the United Arab Emirates to cancel Alicia Keys’ scheduled concert in Dubai on November 15 due to her support for apartheid Israel [1].

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) call on our sisters and brothers in the United Arab Emirates to cancel Alicia Keys’ scheduled concert in Dubai on November 15 due to her support for apartheid Israel [1].


Alicia Keys has not only undermined our civil resistance to Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, but she has reportedly visited a support group for the Israeli occupation army based in occupied Jerusalem [2], ignoring the fact that the Israeli army is the key instrument of oppression and war crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other people in the region.


As was the case in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, people of conscience everywhere should shun artists who insist on crossing the boycott picket line and entertaining apartheid. In 1984, at the height of the struggle against South African apartheid, Enuga S. Reddy, director of the United Nations Center against Apartheid, stated that artists who performed in South Africa, despite the cultural boycott called for by the oppressed, must have done so out of “ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism,” adding, “they need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime.” [3]


On July 4th Alicia Keys ignored appeals from thousands worldwide who called on her to uphold the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its military occupation, dismantles its system of racial discrimination and upholds the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, as stipulated in UN resolution 194 [4]. These calls included a petition signed by 16,000 individuals, letters from Alice Walker, Roger Waters and others, and a statement signed by dozens of prominent African Americans affirming the similarities between Israel’s apartheid system and the system of racial segregation and subjugation that African Americans endured under Jim Crow. [5]


By insisting on performing in Israel despite its grave violations of international law and human rights, Alicia Keys has consciously lent her name to the Israeli state’s “Brand Israel” propaganda campaign that aims at projecting Israel’s false semblance of normalcy, and concealing its inhumane and racist colonial policies [6]. Keys has in fact gone further than this. She chose to open her show in Tel Aviv with Israeli artist Idan Raichel, who shamelessly states that he and his band “certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara [propaganda] ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict.” [7]


Keys also reportedly visited the right-wing organization, Thank Israel Soldiers, in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem [8], a group that seeks to “empower” Israeli soldiers and organizes “weekend trips” for them in the occupied Palestinian territory [9]. These are the same soldiers that maintain Israel’s cruel military occupation and apartheid as well as its medieval, life endangering siege on the occupied Gaza Strip; that in January 2009 carried out a massacre in Gaza, killing more than 1,440 Palestinians, of whom 431 were children, and injured another 5380 [10]; and that were described by the UN Fact Finding Mission as having committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during this savage military assault. [11]


For over 65 years Israel has pursued colonial and apartheid designs to dispossess and ultimately ethnically cleanse the indigenous people of Palestine from their homeland. The state of Israel was created in 1948 by systematically dispossessing and ethnically cleansing more than 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form a racist, exclusionary Jewish state and has denied Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands. The most recent phase of the cruel realities of Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is the Prawer-Begin Plan whose objectives are the forcible uprooting and dispossession of tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians in the Naqab (Negev) and the destruction of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages, in order to proceed with Zionism’s vision of creating Jewish only spaces, “cleansed” of the Palestinians. [12] mso-ansi-language:EN-US">


Meanwhile in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians live under a repressive military occupation. Israel’s apartheid wall – declared illegal by the international court of justice in 2004 – has further aggravated the regime of ghettoization and dispossession imposed on Palestinians through a network of Jewish-only colonies and segregated roads.   12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US">


The overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society supports the BDS movement and regards it as a main form of resisting Israel’s regime of oppression and as the most effective and morally consistent way for Arabs and internationals to stand with Palestinian rights. The inspiring BDS achievements in the last few months may well indicate that the movement is reaching a tipping point [13]. The world’s most prominent scientist, Stephen Hawking, has recently cancelled his participation in an Israeli conference, unambiguously citing the unanimous Palestinian voices calling on him to boycott as his reason for not attending, further legitimatising boycott as a mode of resistance [14]. Distinguished filmmaker Mira Nair has also recently rejected an invitation to attend the Haifa International Film Festival, stating, “I will go to Israel when apartheid is over” [15]. Both have joined a long list of artists, writers, and anti-racist activists, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy and numerous others, who stand with this movement.


As our struggle for freedom continues, we call on our allies and solidarity supporters worldwide to redouble their efforts to expand the movement and show people like Keys that complicity in covering up Israel’s crimes is not without its cost. In doing so, we also appeal to our Arab sisters and brothers directly: we know that the Palestinian cause is alive in every Arab country. Our struggle against Zionist settler colonialism is also your struggle; it is part of our collective struggle against colonial and western imperial domination over the region. In September 2012, the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila set an important precedent when they pulled out of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ concert in Beirut. In doing so, they sent an unequivocal message to international artists “that touring the region and including Israel on the schedule – despite the Palestinian cultural boycott call – will be met with resistance in Arab countries where public opinion strongly opposes what is often called “normalization.” [16]


PACBI urges the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre and the sponsors of Alicia Keys’ scheduled performance there to cancel this show. Send Alicia Keys a clear message and tell her that she is not welcome in Arab countries! Dubai, Palestinian civil society is asking this of you as an essential contribution to our struggle to achieve freedom and justice in Palestine.






























August 2, 2013


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