A guest post by AKUS
Big news at the Guardian had the faithful Israel bashers a-twitter this week.
A performer named Lauryn Hill decided not to perform in Israel “after cultural boycott pressure”, as the Guardian gleefully referred to the threats and intimidation she succumbed to from “a social media campaign by activists who urged her to boycott Israel over its occupation of Palestinian land.”
Listing her accomplishments, the Guardian article salaciously pointed out that after recording one well-known song, Hill “decided to drop out of the public eye … [and] served a brief prison term over tax evasion”. Cyber bullying of this performer (and tax evader) achieved its goal of intimidating her. Israelis will not get the opportunity to see her perform in Israel.
The following paragraph from the Guardian report of her cancelled trip is a shocking indictment of the ability of cyber-bullies to intimidate a person; not the happy ending the Guardian apparently thinks it is:
“Activists pressured Hill to cancel, with a campaign that quoted Killing Me Softly – a cover song she is famous for – to describe Israeli policies.”
Unknown “activists” waged a cyber-bullying campaign, which the Guardian does not condemn, to which this weak-kneed individual succumbed (oh, Charlie Hebdo – where are you when we need you to stand up for personal freedom of choice and expression in the arts?).
As a matter of fact, an earlier Guardian article from September 21, 2014, pointed out that Miss Hill is no longer a particularly successful performer. Israeli audiences may have been spared an embarrassing debacle by a has-been:
“First of five UK shows sees the singer booed amid complaints about her punctuality, treatment of her songs, and sound quality …. Lauryn Hill’s return to Britain for the first of five UK shows proved to be a disaster on Saturday night.”
The Guardian, which so quickly pounced on this story of Hill’s canceled performance as a BDS success, rather than presenting it as the bullying it actually represents, managed to miss recent reports concerning more principled performers who have, in no uncertain terms, made it plain that they will not be bullied out of visiting Israel.
The Jerusalem Post was happy to report US diva Dionne Warwick is coming to Israel, says won’t succumb to BDS pressures:
“After entertainer Lauryn Hill cancelled her show in Israel for political reasons, American diva Dionne Warwick said Wednesday that she has no plans to cancel her upcoming Tel Aviv performance, saying that “art has no boundaries.”
A statement released to the press read that Ms. Warwick “would never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel.””
Ynet was also quick to point out that Bon Jovi in talks for summer gig in Israel:
“The summer’s round of big concerts may soon add the name Bon Jovi to its list of famous names. Official sources in production told Ynet that early discussions have begun to bring the rock band to Israel in September, most likely to take place in Park Yarkon.”
So this is the Guardian’s game: try to make every minor BDS fail look like a huge success, and distort the view its readers have of the absurd failures of the BDS effort by simply not reporting the occasions in which many more artists of principle stand up for their right to perform where and when they wish.
Foreign artists who have performed in Israel and stood up to the bullying include Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake and numerous others. Succumbing to BDS cyber-bullying may work with washed-up up former performers like Roger Waters and Lauryn Hill. They may see it as attractive opportunity for them to escape the obscurity in which they otherwise exist by getting a nod from the Israel-bashing Guardian and others.
Artists who can stand on the merits of their acknowledged success follow the dictates of their own moral compass when being pushed to do otherwise and live the principle of freedom of expression by their own actions, showing the BDS crowd for what it is – a failed hodge-podge of cyber-bullies on whom artists should turn their backs.