Last year the global network, Musicians For Palestine, made an appeal in collaboration with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and BDS France to call on the Black Eyed Peas to cancel their concert in occupied Jerusalem on Nov. 29th, the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, as celebrated by the United Nations.
After a couple weeks of discussions with musician friends, I agreed with a sentiment that was developing in our global conversation between musician friends working to support BDS, that it would be important to try to reach out to the band personally. After conversations with artists globally, including some high profile musicians who know the band personally for years, that route wasn’t going moving, the band wasn’t responding. In that light we launch a campaign: #WhereIsTheLoveForPalestinians ?
In the end Back Eyed Peas did respond to the campaign directly in the context of an article in AP, that directly references our campaign. The article reads :
“The BDS movement says it is a nonviolent campaign against Israeli abuses against Palestinians — both Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military occupation for more than half a century. Israel says the campaign is an effort to delegitimize and even destroy the country. ”
A statement on the BDS France website said the concert was “even more scandalous” because it was taking place on the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It urged supporters to use the hashtag #WhereIsTheLoveforPalestinians — a nod to the group’s hit “Where is The Love” — to call for the group to cancel its performance..”
A letter from the heart to Black Eyed Peas
“Let us remember, with our hearts, the Palestinian families who were shattered just this past May during the bombing campaign that took place in Gaza. 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed, with more than 1,900 people wounded, many for life. These are not just numbers, these are Palestinians who lost their lives, or who were permanently injured.
All of these recent events took place in Gaza, a tiny territory that has been and continues to be under a state of military siege, dating back to 2008. All land, air and sea points of access to Gaza are under the siege and largely cut off to the outside world.
In this context and also with the continued expansion of colonial settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, we are appealing to you to not hold the concert in occupied Jerusalem on Nov. 29th.
Your music is heartfelt, about being in the world, engaging with people, focusing on manifesting positive energy, finding a good vibe, yes to all that! Also as a band you have played such an important role in creating space in the music industry for Black culture and voices, respect. Your songs often speak to a cultural framework for the Americas that cuts across borders, that cuts across linguistic divides; shout out to that !
It is in the spirit of engagement and solidarity between peoples that we are calling on you to look to Palestine, to see the devastating realities in occupied Palestine today, the thousands of political prisoners. Also note that today, many Israeli human rights activists are pushing for the light to be focused on these realities also. Israeli activists who are challenging Israeli apartheid policies from within Israel and are facing serious internal repression right now.
This Black Eyed Peas show could be a turning point for the band because the concert crosses a major ethical and moral line in the public space. This concert must lead to a larger conversation around bands playing shows in occupied Palestine. If you play this concert in Israel. Is your music authentic, or just a show? Is your effort to create a positive spirit through your music, full or an empty shell? Do the Palestinian people matter to you? What is the responsibility of artists to speak out with truth for human rights, for the people?”
(Thank you to a network of friends who reviewed and edited / added to this text. Also to those who were involved in and / or where supportive of the broader process surrounding the appeal to Black Eyed Peas to respect the BDS call by Palestinians, including: Ian Kamau, Jessie Stein, Wake Island, Nicolas Jaar, Narcy, Peter Burton, Sarah Albu, Asher Gamedze, Aaron Lakoff, Talia Joundi, Salim Vally, John Clarke, Narcy and Airick Asher Woodhead (Doldrums).)