Opinion

The Great Debate

Alicia Keys: Breaking the cultural logjam in Israel

Alicia Keys at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

JERUSALEM — The fireworks before the Alicia Keys concert in Tel Aviv on July 4 have been from activists demanding that the singer cancel her performance in Israel. But she was not swayed by these false comparisons between Israel and South Africa under apartheid.

Good for her. Israel is no Sun City, the race-restricted resort created by Pretoria in the 1980s to evade the international boycott against the apartheid regime.

Musicians were rightly targeted for giving credence to a renegade government by performing in that pretend resort. This effort was part of a legitimate rallying cry against injustice by entertainers worldwide. But today, musicians and other entertainers should come to Israel and speak their mind to audiences about the nation’s successes and failures. Just as Israeli musicians — Jewish, Muslim and Christian — do.

These activists who campaign under the banner of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) assert that Israel is an apartheid state similar to the former South African regime, where racial discrimination and separation was legislated in every aspect of public life. This is unequivocally untrue about Israel.

from The Great Debate UK:

A Visit to Hebron

robin-yassin-kassab-Robin Yassin-Kassab is the author of The Road from Damascus, a novel published by Penguin, and co-editor of PULSE, one of Le Monde Diplomatique's five favourite websites. The opinions expressed are his own.-

There’s no pretty way to describe what I saw in Hebron, no tidy conceit to wrap it in.

I visited as a participant in the Palestine Festival of Literature, the brain child of the great British-Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif. I was in the company of many wonderful writers and publishers, among them Python and traveller Michael Palin, best-selling crime novelist Henning Mankel, Pride and Prejudice screenplay writer Deborah Moggach, and prize-winning novelists Claire Messud and MG Vassanji.

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