2013 Summary of the Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

2013 Summary of the Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

by DPAI (UK, Australia, Ireland, USA)

This year brought with it bold public statements from Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters and acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair that they support the cultural boycott of Israel and respect the boycott call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).  Such declarations paralleled the wide-reaching news that Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned University of Cambridge physicist and cosmologist, had joined the academic boycott of Israel.

Meanwhile, artists that had played in Israel prior to the boycott call continued to refuse to entertain apartheid.  A few examples are Rage Against The Machine, Suede and Radiohead, who all played Israel in 2000, but since Palestinian Civil Society made the boycott call in 2005, all three bands have refrained.  Peter Hammill also has not returned to play Israel since his concert there in 2001.

January 2013:Stanley Jordan delights many of his jazz fans when he cancels his appearance as headlining artist for the Israel Red Sea Jazz Festival (Winter).  His decision was preceded by an in-depth conversation lasting many days on his Facebook wall, in which people opposed to Israeli apartheid tried to inform him about the facts of that state’s treatment of the Palestinian people.  [1]

Highly publicized Lollapalooza Israel is cancelled because so many artists chose to refrain from playing Israel, a promoter stated “there were many difficulties in recruiting famous artists to take part in the festival…” [2]

Trance Addicts Against Israeli Apartheid is formed, dedicated to to the advocacy and promotion of a trance music boycott of Israel.[3]

Israel’s plan to utilize metalwashing slows when Germany thrash metal band Kreator (who played Israel in ‘06) cancel their Israel gig, and choose not to reschedule. [4]

February 2013:  Lowkey and M1(dead Prez) create a boycott video that encourages as well as educates many hiphop and rap fans about the BDS call. [5]

Boycott activists applaud the legendary Shuggie Otis when he quietly cancels a gig in Israel.  [6]

March 2013: Major music publication, Rolling Stone publishes an article: Roger Waters Calls for Boycott of Israel, bringing awareness of the cultural boycott into the mainstream. [7]

Young Canadian students from the largest students’ union in Canada, York University Federation of Students (YFS), vote overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to endorse the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid. [8]

April, 2013: The late author Iain Banks announces he has cancer and has just months to live, he reiterates his support of the cultural boycott of Israel. He explains in London’s Guardian publication why he decided his novels would no longer be published in Israel.[9]

Award winning American artist Raymond Pettibon, whose work is included in the collection of numerous museums and institutions worldwide, tweets support for the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel, refusing to let his work be shown in Tel Aviv.  [10]

An Israeli media site concocts a deceiving and false story that Pearl Jam will play Israel.

Fake quotes from the band are made within the article. The band’s management responded to a query with “Sorry, Pearl Jam does not have a Tel Aviv show scheduled.” [11]

Award winning singer Alexandra Burke, British pop sensation at age 24, quietly refrains from headlining the Zionist Federation Gala to celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday at Wembley Arena, London.  Anti-apartheid supporters had contacted Burke, and there were protests outside Wembley Arena in support of Palestinian rights. [12]

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) vote unanimously, at the Annual Congress on 4 April to endorse the Palestinian call for the Academic Boycott of Israel. They become the first academic union in Europe to formally adopt the academic boycott.  The TUI revive the noble legacy of Irish support for the boycott against South African apartheid and bolster international support for the Palestinian call. [13]

Students in Australia at the University of Sydney boldly vote to support the academic boycott of Israel. [14]

The student senate at the University of California, Berkeley vote to divest from companies affiliated with Israel’s military on 18 April.  Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, who has visited the Gaza Strip, attended the meeting and publicly voiced her support for SB 160.[15]

The Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) votes in an historic decision to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.  AAAS becomes the FIRST academic organization in the U.S. to boycott Israeli institutions.[16]

May, 2013:  Israel’s Plugfest was due to take place in the ethnically cleansed Negev Desert.  International artists Azealia Banks, Lee Scratch Perry, Water Knot,  CSS, 2ManyDJs, !!!Chk Chk Chk, Tiger Love  and Tinariwen were contacted by campaigners and asked to respect the boycott call.  The entire festival had to be scrapped. The Plugfest cancellation is extremely significant, especially as Plug Productions initiated Plugfest to replace their failed attempt at Lollapalooza Israel..  Both were unsuccessful attempts to be Israel’s first ever international music festival, proving the boycott is so successful that a large number of musicians refrain from performing in Israel. [17]

Oberlin College Student Senate members vote to divest from six companies that profit from the occupation and oppression of Palestinians:  Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, Veolia, Elbit Systems, G4S, and SodaStream.  [18]

Professor Stephen Hawking joins the academic boycott of Israel in protest at treatment of Palestinians, cancelling plans to headline a conference hosted by Israel’s president Shimon Peres.[19]  Hawking’s bold decision reverberates around the world, greatly strengthening the boycott and taking it into the mainstream.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former Robben Island prisoner and anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada ask Hollywood star Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Nelson Mandela in the Rugby World Cup-inspired film Invictus, not to accept an award from a group linked to an Israeli university.[20]

Jazz artist Richard Bona quietly scraps plans to return to apartheid Israel for three concerts.  

[21] Bona disappointed some of his fans when he played Israel in 2011 and 2012, and his decision not to return this year was a courageous and welcome step towards human rights and justice.

June:  Mira Nair, internationally-acclaimed film director of Salaam Bombay! and Monsoon Wedding, refuses an invitation to take her latest film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, to Israel, citing the Palestinian call for cultural boycott.

In a series of tweets, Nair made the following statement:

I was just invited to Israel as a guest of honor at the Haifa International Film Festival with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” I will not be going to Israel at this time. I will go to Israel when the walls come down. I will go to Israel when occupation is gone. I will go to Israel when the state does not privilege one religion over another. I will go to Israel when Apartheid is over. I will go to Israel, soon. I stand with the [Palestinian Campaign] for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.[22]

The Israeli producers of the Jerusalem Festival of Sacred Music announce on their official Facebook page:

“Salif Keita canceled his participation in the Jerusalem Festival of Sacred Music. A few hours before his departure for Jerusalem the Malian musician Salif Keita decided to heed the demands of the cultural boycott of Israel and to cancel his participation in the closing concert of the festival.” [23]

Fans of UK stand-up comedian Russell Brand circulate a petition asking him to respect the boycott, and applaud his choice to decline to perform in Israel.[24]

Lim Boats

July:  Israeli press, Music Mako, report that despite already receiving half of 2.25 million shekels in a money transfer, The Killers have now decided not to play Israel.  The article goes on to make the dubious claim that it is difficult to hang the cancellation on to political pressures. [25]

The Killers band members were aware of the reason for the boycott of Israel.  Anti-apartheid activists created a facebook page urging them not to book Israel called The Killers:This Battle is Against Apartheid, Boycott Israel.  The Killers reportedly would have played Israel following their gig in Dubai on October 11.  

August:  The Red Sea Jazz Festival (Summer), referred to as #RedSeaApartheidJazz  on twitter, sees quiet cancellations by US jazz artists Chris Daddy Dave [26] and Matt Schofield and his band, The Matt Schofield Trio. [27]

Carlo Mombelli, celebrated South African jazz artist, withdraws from controversial Israeli concert at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.  The organizer states “his conscience does not allow him to participate”. [28]

Renowned British violinist Nigel Kennedy performs with the Palestine Strings Orchestra at the BBC proms.  Mondoweiss reports:

“Mr. Kennedy is the most high-profile classical artist to date to boycott Israel because of its expropriation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.  At last Thursday night’s concert he did something even more courageous: On the stage of London’s Royal Albert Hall, to a capacity audience of about five and a half thousand people, plus as many as two million listening live on BBC Radio 3, he invoked the taboo ‘A’ word—Apartheid—to describe the world where his young on-stage colleagues live. Nor did the BBC, at writing, excise the comment from its week-long online audio of the concert, and the recorded concert will be broadcast on BBC television to a viewership in the millions.” [29]

September:  Inspirational singer and composer Sonia Montez of Mexico advocates for the boycott of apartheid Israel.[30]

True to their punk rock background, Scottish Band Oi Polloi choose to boycott Kapittel, a festival in Stavanger, Norway, due to the participation of the Israeli ambassador to Norway Naim Aradi.  Oi Polloi announce on their facebook:

«We regret to announce that we are no longer appearing at the Kapittel literature & freedom of expression festival in Stavanger in Norway on Saturday since we found out that (incredibly) we were on the same bill as none other than the Israeli Ambassador! We don’t play with professional apologists for war crimes, torture, illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing & racism.»[31]

October: The Association for Humanist Sociology, an organization consisting mostly of North American university professors, releases a statement on their vote to support the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. [32]

Israel’s use of metalwashing takes a major blow when three international metal bands cancel plans to fly to Israel to attend the 2nd Progstage Festival.  Circus Maximus (Norway), Haken (UK), and Bumblefoot (USA), were supposed to perform in Israel on the eve of October 11.  The entire festival was rescheduled for November 30, with fewer bands and smaller names.  Eventually the festival is scrapped completely, and never happens in November.[33]

December:  The Palestinian Campaign to Boycott the Oral History Conference at Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes:

“We are pleased to announce that the planned June 2014 “International Oral History Conference” being organized by Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been rendered a double blow with the withdrawal of their two international keynote speakers: Alessandro Portelli (Italy) and Mary Marshall Clark (USA).  The university’s claim to be hosting the “first international oral history conference” was unfounded when they made it; it is even less true now.” [34]

Vocal support for Palestinians by Calle13’s lead singer, Rene Perez Joglar, (aka Residente) makes international news.[35]  Soon after, the group releases the single #Multi_Viral on youtube, filmed entirely in occupied Bethlehem.

International news is made when the American Studies Association (ASA), an American organization of professors, announce a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.  Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the PACBI, said the boycott vote shed light on the close collaboration between Israel’s universities and its government and military, and it put those universities on notice that they will become unwelcome in international academic circles:  “It is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that the B.D.S. movement is reaching a tipping point, even in the U.S., the last bastion of support for Israel’s unjust system”  [36]

Roger Waters writes in response to the ASA’s decision :  

“I am just a simple musician, but I have been advocating a cultural boycott of Israel since 2007. I have no words to express my profound support for all of you in the academic world.” [37]

The Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) declares its support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. [38]

A widely circulated claim that JayZ would play Israel in December proves to be false.   The official Israeli government twitter had also circulated the claim, and proved that it uses musicians under false pretenses to musicwash apartheid. [39]

Musician Moddi (of the Island Senja, Norway) positively replied to the boycott call on his facebook page:

“I wish I could explain how much this question has been wearing on me. On the one hand I want to go to Tel Aviv, speak and sing from the stage, share the evening with like-minded, with goodhearted people who I know are with me. On the other, I am afraid that it won’t even help a bit, and that an international boycott now is the only thing that can make the Israeli government listen. These things have to stop.” [40]

Looking ahead to 2014:

Israel is turning to Russia to lure international artists.  The cultural boycott applies to artists from Russia as well.  Efforts are being made to translate material about the boycott into Russian.  Beyonce is urged by boycott activists not to book Israel in 2014.


[1] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/alexander-billet/thanks-stanley-jordan-pulling-out-israeli-jazz-fest

[2] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4333902,00.htm

The more detailed Hebrew report:





[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N69oP9nrwo

[6] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora/bds-roundup-future-professionals-demand-tiaa-cref-divest-israels-rights-violations

[7] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/roger-waters-calls-for-boycott-of-israel-20130320

[8] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/york-federation-of-students-endorses-bds-campaign-10832

[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/05/iain-banks-cultural-boycott-israel

[10] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2161

[11] https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=511548125568755&set=a.497585076965060.1073741825.103836346339937&type=1&theater

[12] http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/105862/zionist-federation-mystified-alexandra-burke-concert-cancellation-0

[13] http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/teachers-union-of-ireland-calls-for-academic-boycott-of-israel-in-unanimous-vote-first-academic-union-in-europe-to-do-so

[14]  http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53818

[15] http://www.dailycal.org/2013/04/18/asuc-senate-passes-divestment-bill-11-9/



[17] http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2013/05/plugfest-israel-has-been-unplugged.html



[19] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/world/middleeast/stephen-hawking-joins-boycott-against-israel.html?_r=0

[20] http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/tutu-kathrada-take-film-star-to-task-1.1512288#.UYrC36JJO31

[21] http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2013/05/richard-bona-will-not-play-apartheid.html  



[23] https://www.facebook.com/JerusalemSeasonOfCulture/posts/644268528931386

[24]  https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/russell-brand-cancel-your-appearance-in-israel?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

[25]  http://www.mako.co.il/music-news/local/Article-2faca36e5003041006.htm?sCh=f6750a2610f26110&pId=786102762

[26] ://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2013/08/chris-daddy-dave-tweets-on-israel.html

[27] http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.com/2013/08/matt-schofield-trio-wont-play-apartheid.html

[28] https://www.causes.com/posts/798465-carlo-mombelli-celebrated-jazz-artist-withdraws-from-controversial-israeli-concert-at-wits-university

[29] http://mondoweiss.net/2013/08/bbc-festival-features-palestine-strings-and-condemnation-of-apartheid-to-jubilant-applause.html



[31] http://www.rogalandsavis.no/puls/article6866341.ece

[32]  http://www.ccsu.edu/uploaded/websites/Association_for_Humanist_Sociology/AHS_BDS_Support_Statement-1.pdf

[33] http://refrainplayingisrael.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/cancelled-progstage-2013-israeli-progressive-rock-festival-octnov/

[34] http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/features/economy-of-the-occupation/7519-bds-hebrew-u-conference-dealt-two-blows

[35] http://news.yahoo.com/calle-13-singer-says-palestinians-puerto-rico-200036298.html



[37] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/steven-salaita/pink-floyds-roger-waters-backs-american-studies-association-israel-boycott-vote  

[38]  http://naisa.org/node/719

[39] http://refrainplayingisrael.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/false-claim-by-israel-that-jay-z-would-entertain-apartheid-late-2013/




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