One of America’s most celebrated contemporary performers has pulled out of a planned tour of Israel after experiencing difficulty in setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory.
Lauryn Hill won five Grammys for her 1998 debut solo album ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, garnering critical acclaim and selling over 19 million albums worldwide.
In a statement released on her website, Hill said she had initially decided to play in the region with the intention of performing in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah, in the West Bank.
“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,” Hill said.
The statement did not make reference to the boycott, divestments, and sanctions movement (BDS), which encourages academics, artists and others to avoid travelling to Israel to pressure the country into ending its occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
“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,” Hill said.
“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.”
The statement did not expand on the nature of the “challenge” faced in setting up a performance in the West Bank.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has made direct comparisons between the boycott of Israel and the boycott of Apartheid South Africa, and said it is inappropriate for artists to perform “in a society founded on discriminatory law and racial exclusivity”.
As the US is rocked by police violence against African-Americans, issues of over-policing and race relations in Israel have also come to the surface, with Ethiopian Jews protesting similar grievances.
While not passing comment on questions of civil rights in Israel, Hill has engaged in the US’s national conversation on race, politics, and police violence.
In 2014 she released a brief ‘sketch’ entitled Black Rage, after African-American man Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
“As artists, we have an opportunity to help the public evolve, raise consciousness and awareness, teach, heal, enlighten and inspire in ways the democratic process may not be able to touch,” she was quoted as saying at the time.
Hill told fans of the decision to pull out of the Israel show on her facebook page, drawing both congratulations and condemnation.
Responses to the post also included what can only be described as some seriously terrible memes.
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