The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and all its international partners, particularly in the U.S., are relieved that the legendary African-American musician Stevie Wonder has cancelled his ill-conceived performance at a benefit concert in Los Angeles for the Israeli military forces.
The idea that anyone would raise funds for an army that has just ended yet another massacre against Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip betrays a deep-seated apathy to human rights and a repulsive tendency to be -- quite literally -- a partner in crime.
For a prominent civil rights fighter who stood unflinchingly against apartheid in South Africa to even consider performing for an army that has committed as many war crimes and crimes against humanity as the Israeli army is beyond unfortunate.
Yet, Stevie Wonder's cancellation letter, reiterating his opposition to all wars, may indicate that he was indeed ill-informed when agreeing to entertain and support the most criminal and brutal tool of Israeli apartheid: its military. Lending his name to such an immoral cause, after all, would have contradicted his record of supporting freedom and human rights elsewhere.
As the Artists Against Apartheid campaign against South African apartheid showed, artists have a moral responsibility to refrain from dealing on a business-as-usual basis with a regime that persistently violates human rights. Stevie Wonder was among the key cultural figures who supported that noble campaign and can today take pride in having played a role in ending apartheid in South Africa.
While we strongly welcome Stevie Wonder’s cancellation and salute all the activists and prominent international figures who campaigned to bring this cancellation about, we hope that he will stand on the right side of history and firmly distance himself from the other apartheid state: Israel. As Martin Luther King, Jr. always said, human rights everywhere are indivisible.
Posted on 01-12-2012