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Lauryn Hill Nixes Israel Shows

Facing BDS pressure, singer cites ‘challenge’ of performing in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah

Jonathan Zalman
May 05, 2015
Lauryn Hill in Brooklyn, NY on February 5, 2014. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for CBGB)
Lauryn Hill in Brooklyn, NY on February 5, 2014. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for CBGB)

Croonstress Lauryn Hill will not be bringing her deep honey-vocals to Israel this week, when she was slated to perform in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

Last month, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a organization dedicated to influencing American policy in Israel, sent out the following tweet:

.@MsLaurynHill 11,000 people asking you to boycott Israel. Please respect Palestinian call:

— End the Occupation (@US_Campaign) April 17, 2015

And the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign joined the fight, too, by starting the hashtag #KillingMeSoftly, and posting a YouTube video in which the lyrics to Hill’s signature song were amended from “Killing me softly with his song,” to “Killing me softly with your bombs.”

And on April 1, a letter addressed to Hill from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, stated that Hill’s scheduled performances in Israel, a country bent on “settler colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress and ethnically cleanse native Palestinians from their homeland…is the equivalent of performing in Sun City South Africa during the apartheid era.”

Yesterday, Hill caved to the demands. She posted the following statement on her Facebook page:

Dear Friends and Fans in Israel,

When deciding to play the region, my intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge. I’ve wanted very much to bring our live performance to this part of the world, but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace. It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel, and seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region. May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people.

Ms. Lauryn Hill

Last weekend, Robbie Williams performed in Israel despite similar calls from BDS.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.