Open letter from Lebanon to Moby: Don’t play in Israel next month

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) posted a public letter signed by Lebanese civil society organizations and student groups commending the decision by musician Moby to visit Lebanon in early July, while urging him to cancel his upcoming concert in Israel planned for the week after in order to respect the call for Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions

The signatories wrote to Moby (whose namesake is based upon Herman Melville’s eponymous novel):

Come to Lebanon on July 5th, but, please, in honor of Herman Melville’s recognition of the rights of and respect for the indigenous, and in honor of the 2005 call from Palestinian Civil Society, please do not go to Israel on July 12th. Come to Lebanon and learn of the oppression we have endured at  the hands of the Israeli army and its collaborators; unlearn the myths Israel propagates. The soil that Arabs have cultivated for centuries, in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, has been militarily occupied for decades by Israel. The people who have cultivated that soil – namely the Palestinians – have been denied their right to return to their land solely because they are not Jewish.

The essence of Israeli colonialism in the region is about control over the land using military mechanisms. Your collaboration with Public Enemy in the powerful song “Make Love, Fuck War,” suggests you understand the dangers of launching wars based on foreign occupation and control of other people’s land.

The letter stated that numerous other musicians, artists and performers have heeded the BDS call in response to Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian rights; as the state implements apartheid policies and continues to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return from lands they were purged beginning in the late 1940s. 

Music cannot be isolated from politics. A visit to Israel is viewed by Israel, and internationally, as implicit support for Israeli policies and indifference to the victims of Israeli crimes. Ilan Pappe, an anti-Zionist Israeli historian and strong supporter of BDS, recently wrote: “The cultural image in Israel feeds the political decision in the west to support unconditionally the Israeli destruction of Palestine and the Palestinians.”

We ask you to follow in the steps of the Pixies, Gorillaz Sound System, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Bono/U2, Devandra Banhart, among others, who did not perform in Israel last summer, and to support the call for boycott that was recently embraced by Roger Waters and Pete Seeger. 

In addition to outlining the importance of heeding the BDS call, the letter asked Moby to educate himself about the history and current status of Israel’s aggressions against Lebanon.

It is not only the Palestinians who have been victimized by Israel. We, in Lebanon, have suffered a great deal. Israeli aggressions against Lebanon began in 1948, with the occupation and annexation of 30 Lebanese villages, and have continued regularly since then … We urge you not to allow your music and talent to be used whitewash the crimes of this outlaw state. We urge you to remember the position of your ancestor Herman Melville, and the positions of other artists, and to stand with the people of the land in their – our – struggle for equality.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).