Celine Dion to perform on ethnically cleansed land
5 March 2020
Canadian singer Celine Dion is set to perform in an Israeli park this summer built on top of ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land.
Dion is scheduled to perform during Tu B’Av, celebrated by some as Israel’s Valentine’s Day, in August. The venue – Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv – is built on the ruins of Jarisha, a village that was completely depopulated of its Palestinian inhabitants by the Irgun, a Zionist militia, in May 1948.
Zionist paramilitary forces ethnically cleansed some 800,000 Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba to clear the way for the establishment of the State of Israel.
By rebuffing the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israel, these concerts are tantamount to crossing an international picket line.
The Canadian singer prepared a video message expressing her excitement to perform “for the very first time in Tel Aviv.”
Fifty Palestinian musicians, actors and artists are urging Dion to heed the call by Palestinian civil society not to perform in Israel.
“The far-right Israeli regime exploits all performances by international artists to whitewash, or artwash, its systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” the artists said in a letter appealing to Dion.
“In this context, all artists have an ethical obligation to do no harm to our struggle for justice.”
“Consider Mandela’s words”
Notably, Dion named one of her twin sons after Nelson Mandela, who headed the liberation movement against South Africa’s apartheid government. Dion met Mandela during a trip to South Africa in 2008 and mourned his death in 2013.
The Palestinian appeal to Dion quoted a comment made by Mandela on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in December 1997.
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Mandala declared.
“It is in this spirit that I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.”
Signatories urged Dion to “to consider Mandela’s words and her own place in the history books.”
The Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is modeled on the global campaign that had helped end apartheid in South Africa.
The organization Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East is also urging the artist to cancel the performance.
And the Canadian BDS Coalition has issued an appeal to Dion. It was signed by Roger Waters and Thurston Moore, best known for their work with the bands Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth, as well as many other artists.
4IL, a propaganda outlet of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, celebrated Dion’s planned performance and urged social media users to “show her some love.” The Israeli government-backed Act.IL app was used to launch a fake grassroots social media campaign – a tactic known as astroturfing – that directs users to praise the singer’s planned performance.
Israel advocacy group StandWithUs is attempting to depoliticize Dion’s concert.
“Music should never be politicized, and instead of bringing people together, the haters are trying to encourage division,” the group stated.
The notorious Islamophobic bigot Pamela Geller was thrilled about Dion’s upcoming performance, calling it a “BDS fail” on Twitter. The world’s greatest artists are flocking to Israel,” Geller added.
Israeli concert promoter Shuki Weiss is organizing the event and financing the construction of the amphitheater where Dion’s concert is set to take place.
Weiss is a long-time opponent of the BDS movement and has helped artists cross the international picket line set by Palestinians. He has also urged Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to intervene by persuading artists to come to Israel.
Tamara Nassar is assistant editorialist at The Electronic Intifada.
Distributed by PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity)