Singer Humperdinck faces calls to boycott Israel

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Saturday, February 18, 2012

Veteran British pop star Engelbert Humperdinck faced calls to refrain from returning to Israel on Saturday, ahead of a planned trip to Lebanon in March.

Humperdinck, famous for his hits “Release Me” and “The Last Waltz,” performed in Tel Aviv in December despite a campaign led by British university students.

He is due to perform at Casino Du Liban in Jounieh on March 9 and 10.

A letter from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSI) condemned Humperdinck for performing in Israel but did not call for his performances to be cancelled.

"What many artists have realized is that whether they would like it or not, performing in Israel nowadays does constitute a political act: it is a vote of confidence in the Israeli occupation of Palestine," the letter said.

Previously the movement had boycotted musicians and artists who had performed in the Jewish state.

The CBSI urged Humperdinck to undertake a tour of the south of the country to understand the impact Israel had.

“We are calling for him to commit to not playing in Israel again in the future, but we are not boycotting him,” Asad Ghsoub, from the CBSI said.

“We are trying to change tactics. We are asking him to meet us so we can explain our ideas and we are offering to take him to the south to show him what Israel has been doing to the country since 1948.”

In January Belgian-Italian classical singer Lara Fabian cancelled two planned concerts in Lebanon after it was revealed she sang at a concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state and told the crowd “I love Israel.”

Fabian cancelled the concert after a campaign led by CBSI and other Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) groups, but Ghsoub said there were no plans to do the same.

“This situation is totally different [to Fabian’s],” Ghsoub said. “He has just played there once, whereas she is really a Zionist. There is no one solution for all, it depends on the case.”

The text of the full letter is below:

Open letter from Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon to Engelbert Humperdinck

Dear Mr. Humperdinck,

We, the undersigned, are Lebanese citizens coming from different ideological denominations, but are united by a common rejection of Israeli apartheid and occupation of Arab lands, including parts of Lebanon, as well as a common support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self determination and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948.

We understand that you will be performing on the 9th and 10th of March in Casino Du Liban. You also chose to perform in “Israel” on Dec 1, 2011, in defiance of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel, modeled after its South African predecessor and supported by almost the entire Palestinian arts community, and despite receiving pleas by students at the University of Leicester 1 urging you to cancel your performance. That letter was dated November 5, 2011.

As mentioned in that letter "what many artists have realized is that whether they would like it or not, performing in Israel nowadays does constitute a political act: it is a vote of confidence in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and thus in the ruthless regime that Israel imposes on the Palestinians. To put it differently, performing in Israel in the current circumstances is like performing in front of white Afrikaners in South Africa during the time of the Apartheid regime. It is not only an act of indifference for the suffering of the oppressed, but also an injection of legitimacy to the oppressor, who always strives to present the impression of ‘business as usual’.”

Because of your position on that issue, we, in Lebanon, are urging you yet again to change your stance on performing in Israel in the future and to agree to meet a delegation of us during your upcoming visit to Lebanon to discuss this matter with you in person. We would also be happy to take you on a tour in the south of Lebanon to show you, first hand, manifestations of Israel’s continuous violations of international law against us. 2

Several bands and artists have responded to the Palestinian Civil Society 2005 Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a reaction to its occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian refugees their fundamental right to return to their homes, as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Please follow in the steps of Roger Waters, the UK duo Massive Attack, Tindersticks, Leftfield, Faithless, the Pixies, Gorillaz Sound System, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Bono/U2, Devandra Banhart, Cat Power 3 (latest artists to heed BDS call), Snoop Dogg, among others, who have refrained from performing in Israel. Boycott Israel; be on the right side of history!

We look forward to meeting with you in person next month in Beirut and we await your kind confirmation.
Sincerely

Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon

(Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Well done, I support all efforts to educate artists to try to persuade them not to perform in Israel, and if they have, to ask them to reconsider repeating that action.
While the Palestinian people struggle under apartheid, oppression, occupation and are subject to arbitrary imprisonment and warcrimes, it is incumbent on people of conscience to support a boycott of Israel. No artists should play there until Palestine is free.
Hundreds of Irish artists have pledged to boycott Israel and many more artists of conscience all over the world are doing the same, justice will prevail and apartheid will end.

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