It's time Canadians are made aware of the tactics of intimidation employed by the BDS movement so that they understand that many celebrities who cancel events in Israel are not doing so for political reasons but rather out of concern for their lives -- personally and professionally.
Can you imagine the concern of saxophonist Daniel Zamir during his August 28, 2013 performance at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa "when members of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group began to sing, "dubula e juda" ("shoot the Jew") as concert attendees were entering the music hall"?
The United Church of Canada and the Presbyterian Church of the USA each have two-million members who support the BDS movement and their methods to convince people to boycott events in Israel which include "bombard[ment] with hundreds of threats, blackmail attempts, intimidation, social media harassment and slander...false propaganda...scare tactics and bullying" and behaving like an "extremist group."
I say this because there has been little or no push back from the vast majority of members from these Churches. As followers of Christianity they are well aware of the sins of omission as well as the sins of commission.
These tactics were used successfully on Salif Keita, the Golden Voice of Africa, who was booked to perform a benefit concert at The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival, August 23. He's released 20 albums in a career spanning four decades and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. Salif is also albino and with his wife, leads the Salif Keita Global Foundation which provides free healthcare and educational services in the U.S., Africa and around the world for those with albinism.
His agents, in their letter of apology to Sacred Music Festival, Hadassah Hospital, and Salif Keita fans, wrote:
"Of course, we do not agree with any of these tactics or false propaganda, but management's concern is to protect the artist from being harmed personally and professionally. Although, we love Israel and all his fans here, and the fantastic spirit of unity of the Sacred Music Festival, as well as the important work your hospital is doing for albinism, we did not agree with the scare tactics and bullying used by BDS; therefore management decided to act cautiously when faced with an extremist group, as we believe BDS to be," the message said. "It is unfortunate that artists like him are threatened by this group who falsely claim to defend human rights."
According to the foundation:
"About one in 13,000 babies in the world are born albino. In Africa, the ratio's as high as 1 in 1,000 babies. Unfortunately, albinos in many African nations are simply killed due to superstition and ignorance about the skin condition that is caused by a complete lack of pigmentation."
Mrs. Keita said they die "because they are black people who have white skin...whether it's due to discrimination or the hot sun, they are in perpetual danger."
"It's a sad thought to know that a human being because of their colour or lack thereof, considered Albinos in Africa and around the world, have to continue in our lifetime to endure persecution, social isolation, murder, human rights violations, denial of fair access to education, as well as to healthcare and employment."
Mr. Keita, had planned to visit the Hadassah Hospital and Albinism Treatment Center. The Foundation acknowledged the important work for albinism and skin cancer at Hadassah Hospital. The Foundation still made its donation of a couple hundred new UV protected sunglasses, UV protected clothing, swim gear and hats for patients with albinism.
While these two-million Christians back BDS, they pay no attention to some of today's biggest stars including 50 Cent, Nelly Furtado, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and Usher, Hilary Swank and Jennifer Lopez who have entertained tyrants, including Gadhafi's inner circle, the dictators of Equatorial Guinea; and (in the words of the Human Rights Foundation) "serenading crooks and dictators from Eastern Europe and Russia," amongst them "corrupt Uzbek industrialist Azam Aslanov," Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, and the dictatorship of Azerbaijan.
These tactics of intimidation which include death threats, like those received by Paul McCartney in 2008, and massive social media attacks against Eric Burden, Alicia Keys, Deep Purple, Rihanna, Madonna, Moby, the Pet Shop Boys, Aerosmith, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Barbra Streisand, all of whom stood up to the BDS onslaught, leave one to wonder how many people participate in the BDS movement because they agree with their ideology and how many "participate" out of fear of damaging their careers or worse.
As Keita's agent wrote "The BDS movement also threatened to keep increasing an anti-Salif Keita campaign, which they had already started on social media, and to work diligently at ruining the reputation and career that Mr. Keita has worked 40 years to achieve not only professionally, but for human rights and albinism." They added that the decision not to perform was the result of physical threats and intimidation, not politics.
Ramadan is over for the 1.5-billion Muslims who spent the month in introspection and reflection, forgiving and forgiveness. September's upon us and it's the time when 14-million Jews go through the same process. I'm left to ponder at what point The UCC and the Presbyterian Church of the USA will see that their actions violate the teachings of God and His Son, Jesus. Perhaps they need a month to reflect.