Lebanese Concert Promoter Sues BDS Activists

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During the boycott campaign last year. (Al-Akhbar - Archive)

By: Sanaa Khoury

Published Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lebanese anti-Israel activists are being sued by a concert promoter for their boycott campaign against a popular British rock group.

Samah Idriss, director of Dar al-Adab publishing house, received a court summons this Thursday from Beirut's commerce court. Idriss is implicated in a lawsuit for his involvement in a Lebanese boycott campaign against the British rock group Placebo last year. Jihad el-Murr, who heads the company that organized the event, filed the suit on 10 July 2011.

El-Murr is suing Idriss, as well as three other groups involved in the campaign: the Aidoun Refugee Rights Center, the Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, and the Global BDS Campaign in Lebanon. El-Murr, a self-described famous businessman from a prominent family, is demanding US$180,000 compensation for his company’s financial losses allegedly caused by the boycott campaign.

Lebanese activists called for the boycott in protest of Placebo's performance in Tel Aviv four days before their concert in Beirut, that was scheduled for 9 June 2010 at the Forum de Beirut. Only in July 2011, a year after the event took place, did el-Murr notice the ‘financial losses’ he claims were caused by the campaign. He called the campaign against cultural normalization with Israel both “malicious and deceptive.” El-Murr argues that the 1955 Lebanese law supporting a limited boycott of Israel does not apply to the Placebo concert. “The famous rock band does not even deal with politics,” he added.

Idriss, who is also editor-in-chief of al-Adab magazine, offered an alternate perspective on the validity of boycotting groups like Placebo. “The band performed in Tel Aviv shortly after the offensive against the Mavi Marmara flotilla. This is a blatant disregard to the crimes committed by the [Israeli] occupation.” He continued, “If we choose to adopt the same logic as that of the plaintiff, we can say that the band’s concert in Israel, which was attended by 7,000 people, brought over US$3 million to the Israeli organizers and Israeli tourism. Hence, artists who perform in Israel not only participate in whitewashing the crimes of the Zionist entity, they also provide financial revenues to Israel. The cultural, artistic, and academic boycotts of Israel do not only serve to morally expose Israeli crimes; they also represent an effort to reduce financial support for Israel.”

Idriss discussed the Placebo action within the broader climate of activism. “The boycott against Placebo’s performance in Lebanon came in light of the growing victories of the global BDS campaigns. International artists, such as Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, and the Gorillaz, have followed BDS calls.” El-Murr seems more concerned with his company’s financial losses, amounting to a few thousand dollars, than with the politics. In contrast, stars such as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd have rejected playing high-budget performances in Israel that help conceal Israel's apartheid image. As soon as news about the lawsuit spread, writers, intellectuals, and artists announced they stand in solidarity with Idriss and his friends. One such letter of support came from Lebanese writer and public intellectual Elias Khoury, who wrote to Idriss, “We stand by you in this battle.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

This article was modified on 17 Oct 2011. An earlier version dated the Lebanese boycott law to 1985 as opposed to 1955.

Comments

Should we also boycott Lebanon because they keep Palestinians in squalor and dismal conditions, with no rights whatsoever and laws that are at times worse than the ones in South Africa during the apartheid area.
Is that how Palestinian in Lebanon be treated?

This will not stand up in court, it is a fear-tactic! Nothing that El-Murr holds water. Nothing done intended to cause harm to El-Murr. The only motive of the humanitarians, was to help Palestinians gain their human tights! El-Murr should be taken to trial for furthering and promoting Israel's illegal apartheid system against Palestinians.

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