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Lauryn Hill Cancels Israel Concert After #KillingMeSoftly Social Media Campaign

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Originally published at MintPress News.

Bowing to intense pressure from a social media campaign based around one of her own hit songs, musician Lauryn Hill canceled a scheduled appearance in Tel Aviv, Israel.

In her Monday announcement, Hill stressed her desire for peace and recovery:

Ms. Lauryn Hill – Dear Friends and Fans in Israel, When… | Facebook

It’s the latest victory for the “cultural boycott” declared by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to end investment in Israel until Israel ends the illegal occupation of Palestine. International support for the BDS movement has grown since last summer’s brutal Israeli offensive which killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians and left 150,000 homeless.

The cancellation came amid pressure from BDS activists on Twitter and other social media, using the hashtag #KillingMeSoftly, a reference to Hill’s hit song of the same name:

Activists even created a BDS parody of “Killing Me Softly” in a YouTube video which features a chorus of voices singing “Killing me softly with your bombs.”

A petition launched by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation received over 11,000 signatures, according to a Monday press release from the campaign. From the press release:

Haidar Eid, a Gaza-based steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said: “We’re delighted that Lauryn Hill has decided not to perform in Israel. A growing number of mainstream artists are catching up with public opinion and now understand that playing in Israel helps it to whitewash its colonial oppression of Palestinians. Israeli promoters are finding it increasingly difficult to book big names to perform in Israel.”

Other musicians who have canceled Israeli performances include Sinéad O’Connor, Talib Kweli and Carlos Santana.

BDS activists took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement:

Meanwhile, Hill faced a predictable backlash from Zionists, who accused BDS supporters of being “Jew haters,” while Israeli media attempted to downplay the importance of the development:

Hill has not publicly announced support for the BDS movement, and Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah notes: “Hill’s strategy of seeking to offset the Israel show with one before a Palestinian audience in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank will likely raise concerns.”

Abunimah continues:

In its guidelines for the cultural boycott, [The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)] states that artists “attempting to visit Palestinian institutions or groups in a ‘balancing’ gesture contribute to the false perception of symmetry between the colonial oppressor and the colonized.”

While Palestinians welcome visits, PACBI says that “solidarity entails respecting the boycott call, which is an authoritative call of the oppressed, and not combining a visit to Palestinian institutions or groups with activities with boycottable Israeli institutions.”

Still, Abunimah echoes other supporters of Palestinian human rights in calling the cancellation a “significant step.”

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