Last Tuesday, Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli joined a host of other artists, including Jello Biafra, Stevie Wonder, Danny Glover and several others in canceling a planned concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, to honor the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“As much as I want to play Israel, I have decided not to in solidarity with Palestinians who will not have access to my show,” he tweeted.
Although pro-Palestine activists have been pressuring the rapper to cancel his Tel Aviv gig for months, pressure has been mounting over the past few weeks in response to Israeli Defense Forces relentless raids on Palestinian civilians in both the West Bank and Gaza in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenage boys. The raids, dubbed “Operation Brothers Keeper,” have lead to the death of at least eight Palestinians, the critical injury of dozens more, and the arrest of over 700–several of whom are being held in administrative detention, an Israeli practice of arresting and detaining Palestinians for renewable periods of time.
Kweli said that speaking to members of the Palestinian rap group DAM helped him to make up his mind.
While Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel can attend a concert in Tel Aviv, even under ordinary circumstances Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are unable to cross the checkpoints necessary to travel to cities in Israel. For this reason, pro-Palestine activists ask music artists to participate in a “Cultural Boycott” of Israel, in order to keep the money out of Israel and to draw attention to the occupation of Palestine.
Instead of playing a concert in Israel, Kweli plans to visit the region to meet with activists working for an end to Israeli apartheid and the occupation.