Stevie Wonder cancels performance for the Friends of the Israel “Defense” Forces following international outcry
Washington, D.C. — Following a growing outcry from individuals, human rights organizations, and public figures from around the world, renowned musician and civil rights leader Stevie Wonder has cancelled a planned performance for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Annual Fundraiser Gala. In conjunction with letters and phone calls from Israelis, Palestinians, other artists and public figures, three international petitions had garnered more than 10,000 signatures, including an open letter by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation that garnered more than 4,000 signatures in less than 24 hours directly preceding the announcement.
A statement issued by Wonder read in part: “with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the FIDF Gala on December 6th… As a Messenger of Peace, I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere.”
Wonder’s representatives said that the United Nations had also recommended cancellation in light of Wonder’s official designation as a UN “Messenger of Peace.” Symbolically, the announcement came on November 29, 2012, the annual UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, marking 65 years since the UN voted to partition Palestine, leading to the exile and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, whose descendants number more than 7 million today. Stevie’s performance had been set to take place one week later in Los Angeles.
Wonder’s effective boycott of FIDF constitutes a major victory for the international campaign based on a 2004 Palestinian civil society call for cultural boycott against institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and discriminatory practices. It illustrates the mobilization power of the growing international movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, based on similar tactics used to help end apartheid in South Africa.
Bassem Nasir, a Palestinian writer who had reached out to Wonder, said: “As a longtime fan, I am delighted that the inspiration I have long received from Wonder has been reaffirmed. More importantly, as a Palestinian, I am grateful that he had the courage to stand against the injustices done to my people. I hope more artists do the same and boycott Israel.”
Cindy and Craig Corrie — the parents of American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli soldier driving a U.S.-made Caterpillar bulldozer as she was protecting a Palestinian family’s home from demolition in Gaza — commended the decision. The Deputy National Director and Director of Development for FIDF, Pinhas Zoaretz, was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade when Rachel was killed. “We are heartened by reports that Stevie Wonder has decided not to perform for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. The death, destruction, confiscation of land, and suppression of basic human rights executed by the Israeli military do not merit the support of those who yearn for justice, peace, and security for all in the region.”
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