Alicia Keys to Preform in Israel Despite Petitions, Letter from Alice Walker

aliciaDespite petitions against the show, Alicia Keys is still scheduled to preform in Tel Aviv on July 4.  A delegation representing a coalition of over 500 organizations delivered a petition with 12,000 signatures to the headquarters of Keys’ non-profit, Keep a Child Alive, which supports children and families affected by HIV in developing countries.

In addition, Alice Walker wrote an open letter to Keys asking the singer to reconsider.  Walker compares the boycott of Israel to the Civil Rights movement and condescendingly tells Keys to, “Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already.”

Walker also informs Keys that, “Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.”  Ido Aharoni, Israel’s consul general in New York, responded directly to this accusation in his own open letter (Read the full letter here):

For decades, dozens of countries, cities and regions all over the world have engaged in a “branding” process — a comprehensive attempt to present an attractive image of a place, which should lead to increased tourism, foreign investment and export.  “I Love New York” is part of one such campaign.

No other country has ever been criticized for engaging in this common practice of courting tourists and businesses.  Only in Israel’s case is it — for some reason — deemed a demonic exercise of the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

Despite pressure to cancel her performance, Keys has stated, “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”