Thursday, April 02, 2020

Alice Walker urges singer Alicia Keys to cancel summer concert in Israel

By Editor - May 30, 2013
Section: [Main News] [BDS]
Tags: [BDS]

Alice Walker talking at the TEDx Ramallah conference. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

US human rights activist and renowned author Alice Walker has published an open letter urging singer Alicia Keys to cancel her scheduled July concert in Israel. 
Walker, who made headlines in Israel last year after refusing to authorize a Hebrew translation of her 1983 Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Color Purple,” is a long time proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and participated in the 2011 Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. 
“It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists,” reads Walker’s letter to Keys, first published by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) on 29 May 2013. 
Walker draws a comparison to boycotts enacted during the US civil rights movement, one 30-year old Keys is too young to remember, and wraps the letter up by urging Keys to instead move her concert to Gaza. 
In March, just days after Alicia Keys confirmed this summer’s concert in Tel Aviv, BDS activism took off across the World Wide Web. Facebook pages and petitions sprung up, imploring Keys to cancel the show. 
Alicia Keys is a well-known R&B singer from the US. 
For Alice Walker’s entire letter, read below. 
Dear Alicia Keys,
I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists.You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people. Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.
If you go to my website and blog you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Under a campaign named 'Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.
This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.
I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world. Please, if you can manage it, go to visit the children in Gaza, and sing to them of our mutual love of all children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they exist.
With love, younger sister, beloved daughter and friend,
Alice Walker



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