Gil Scott Heron Agrees Not to Perform in Tel Aviv-Emory Douglass Issues Statement
GSH ANNOUNCES CANCELLATION OF TEL-AVIV CONCERT [including response from Emory Douglas]
by Sukant Chandan
Gil Scott Heron announces cancellation of Tel Aviv concert
Artist won’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”.
Fans of revolutionary poet and singer-songwriter Gil Scott Heron welcomed his decision last night to cancel the concert he had been scheduled to play in Tel Aviv this May. Heron announced the decision during his set at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the opening night of his world tour.
Activists from the Gil Scott Heron Boycott Israel Campaign had picketed the event earlier in the day, attracting considerable public interest and support. Ten activists from the campaign then continued their protest inside the concert, raising the issue of Israeli apartheid right at the start of Heron’s set and after the first song.
The activists were great admirers of the artist who were shocked by Heron’s decision to play Israel, and said that they protested “reluctantly” given his longstanding commitment to equality and civil rights in both the USA and South Africa.
Upon hearing of the proposed gig in Tel Aviv, South Africans in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” at the decision.
Heron waited until just before his last song to announce the decision to the audience. His tone was unapologetic and he did not definitively tie the decision to any rationale, simply stating that the tour would “end in Athens, not Tel Aviv” and that he would only play in Israel “when everyone is welcome there”. The campaign is now awaiting confirmation from Gil Scott Heron’s management that the concert has indeed been cancelled.
Emory Douglas, renowned artist of the Black Panther Party, commented “My choice to join the voices opposed to your going [to Tel Aviv] wasn’t personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.”
For more information on the campaign, please contact:
Notes to Editors
• Sukant Chandan is coordinating the GSH Boycott Israel Campaign
• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign started in response to GSH’s proposed gig in Israel on 25 May 2010
• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign was established to persuade GSH to cancel this gig
Full Emory Douglas statement:
I commend you on your reversal of not going to perform in Israel, a place ruled by an Apartheid Government. Perhaps the courage you’ve shown by not going will now set the standard and be an inspiration for other performers to be mindful of the choices they make.
My choice to join the voices opposed to your going wasn’t personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.
-One Love, Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of The Back Panther Party
George Galloway commented:
“Gil Scott-Heron sees sense and cancels his Tel Aviv gig. Well done to everyone who campaigned for him to cancel.”
The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign said:
“We have long been great admirers of Gil Scott Heron’s contribution to the cultural struggle of the oppressed around the world, and were originally planning to attend the concert simply to celebrate and enjoy the great man’s songs. It was therefore with some reluctance that we organised last night’s picket and protest of his concert, but felt it was necessary given Israel’s apartheid policies. His decision last night to cancel the show will be a great boost to all those Palestinians struggling under Israeli occupation, none of whom have freedom of movement even within the West Bank, let alone to go to concerts in Tel Aviv.”
Haidar Eid from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel:
“Gil Scott Heron’s decision to cancel his concert in Tel Aviv is warmly welcomed by most of us here in Gaza and Palestinian civil society at large. This does not come as a surprise to us due to his luminous heritage in support of the anti- apartheid struggle in South Africa
“Once again, we wholeheartedly thank him for his support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with its obligations under international law and fully respects Palestinian rights.”
Lee Jasper, British race equality campaigner and former Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities to the Mayor of London:
“I welcome Gill’s announcement that he does not intend to play in Tel-Aviv. even better if he could switch the venue and do a fundraiser in Palestine for those who suffer Israeli state oppression and racism.”