FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY, April 12th, 2015 – On the evening of Sunday April 12th, 40 New York human rights advocates from Adalah-NY, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No, and others protested the performance by Israeli singer Idan Raichel at the Beacon Theatre at 75th St. and Broadway. Idan Raichel calls himself a cultural ambassador for Israel and is an outspoken and uncritical supporter of the Israeli army (photos). His band, The Idan Raichel Project, is part of the Israeli government’s Brand Israel public relations campaign, which uses art and music to distract from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
Although he presents himself as a proponent of peace, Raichel has strong ties to the Israeli military. In his endorsement of the right-wing US organization Thank Israeli Soldiers, he said that supporting Israeli soldiers “is a fulfillment of the Jewish ideal.” Raichel performed for the army before, during, and after its August 2014 attack on Gaza, which killed over 2100 Palestinians, including 500 children. Even more recently he began his US tour by attending a gala fundraiser for Friends of IDF.Adalah-NY member Riham Barghouti said, “How could anyone, let along a musician trying to cultivate an image of a tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel, associate himself with the Israeli government and its attack on Gaza which killed over 2100 Palestinians including 500 children, leveled entire neighborhoods, and led Amnesty International and others to charge Israel with war crimes? But this is the kind of musician that Idan Raichel is!”
The protesters were met with some pro-Israel demonstrators, one of whom attempted to grab the microphone. Another carried a sign “Unprovoked slaughter in Yarmuk? Protests? Boycotts? Don’t Bet On It. In a word Hypocrisy”. He was apparently unaware that the people being killed in Yarmouk are Palestinian refugees forced into exile by Israel.
Protesters were following up on an open letter to the Beacon Theatre, sent March 5, urging the Beacon Theatre to cancel Raichel’s April 12th show. The letter, signed by 41 organizations and an additional 1,800 individual signers, called on the Beacon not to be complicit in Brand Israel’s cynical use of art to whitewash human rights violations.
The action was part of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel by sending the message that there will be no business as usual until Israel ends its occupation, colonization, and apartheid policies.
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