Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has said she is trying to cancel a September gig in Tel Aviv after appeals to her to observe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
“I was not informed by my booking agent, and was unaware myself, that a boycott of Israel had been requested by the Palestinian people. I agreed to perform having been unaware any such boycott had been requested. Had I been aware I would not have agreed to perform,” O’Connor said in a statement posted on her website and apparently removed some hours later.
A Google cached version is still available.
“As things stand I have requested to pull out of the show but may not be legally entitled to do so.”
If I cannot remove myself from the show without cost to myself then I will perform because I can’t afford the legal costs involved in not performing.
No one should assume musicians can afford not to work. Neither should anyone assume we can afford to pay the legal costs involved in pulling out of shows. We have children. we need to feed them. Period.
I do not appreciate being bullied by anyone on either side of this debate any more than I appreciate not being properly informed by my booking agent of the potential ramifications of accepting work in war zones.
While it’s unclear what O’Connor was referring to by “bullying” – a claim often made by artists asked to respect the Palestinian call for cultural boycott of their oppressors – the artist heard a number of appeals, including from Irish composer and activist Raymond Deane, who responded on Facebook to an earlier statement justifying the show:
Your statement re your proposed Israel gig leaves out so much, Sinéad. But mostly, what it omits is acknowledgement that Palestinian civil society has called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – including a cultural boycott – against the Israeli state. Not forever – only until it abides by international law and international humanitarian law. By ignoring this you are spitting in the face of the oppressed.
You cannot disguise this by talking about the poor suffering Israelis who will have the privilege of attending your concert, a privilege denied to Palestinians locked behind the illegal Apartheid wall or illegally under siege in Gaza. You will be spitting in the faces of the abused Palestinian mothers forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints, lying in the dust. You will be spitting in the faces of the abused Palestinian children kidnapped by brutal Israeli soldiers and brought to torture cells in Israeli prisons.
Your presence in Israel will be exploited to the hilt by the Israeli regime which stated, in 2005, that it “sees no difference between culture and propaganda.” Please reconsider your decision - please look at the list of 265 Irish artist(e)s who have pledged to accept no such invitations to Israel until it abides by international law. Please don’t sing for the oppressor, and disdain the oppressed!
Deane then responded to O’Connor’s most recent statement:
Sinéad – our fingers are crossed that you will make the right decision re Palestine. Nobody is “bullying” you – the bullying is all on the other side. Everyone knows you care about social justice, you care about abuse and oppression. You were misinformed by your agent (and no doubt by the Israeli promoter), but now you know the truth – you’ll do the right thing, and you will be supported and respected for it. Our Irish government, as part of the EU, is complicit in Israel’s crimes – it’s up to us, representing civil society, to stand up for truth and justice.