“Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That’s what we do. We don’t cherry-pick our conscience.”
— Sir Elton John on defying boycotters and performing in Israel in June 2010
“I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think, and I have many friends who support Israel.”
— Sir Paul McCartney before his 2008 performance in Israel
The Cultural Boycott attempts to prevent Israeli artists from performing anywhere in the world and aims to block international artists from appearing in Israel. For example, boycotters convinced Madrid’s Global Gay Pride parade to ban all gay Israelis from participating. Also, during the summer of 2010, several well-known artists, such as Elvis Costello and the Pixies, canceled performances in Israel.
This expression of BDS is further evidence that the goal is to isolate Israel rather than to build bridges of understanding. The Cultural Boycott seeks to demonize Israel, Israelis, and those who feel a cultural connection to Israel.
Response to the International Boycott
- Express support for artists who do not give in to blackmail and appear in Israel. Invite them to campus.
- Point out the damage boycotting artists do to the cause of peace.
- Expose the hypocrisy of artists who protest only against Israel.
- Protest if boycotters come to campus.
When Israelis Come to Visit Campus
- Be prepared for protests at events featuring Israelis, whether they are academics, politicians, or artists.
- Alert campus security.
- Encourage the administration to make statements in advance about freedom of speech and the consequences (arrest, expulsion, revocation of organizational privileges) of interfering in students’ right to listen.
- Prepare responses to protests: Make leaflets, applause to drown out boos, stand up with supporting signs in front of protesters with signs.
- Write a letter to the student newspaper explaining how boycotts violate students’ right and limit freedoms.