Internationally acclaimed Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila today tweeted “we will not be opening for the red hot chili peppers on september 6 in beirut.”
This decision – also announced on their Facebook page – follows mounting calls on the group to cancel after Red Hot Chili Peppers rejected calls from the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to cancel a 10 September show in Tel Aviv.
Red Hot Chili Peppers reject boycott call
As early as last Spring petitions and appeals to Red Hot Chili Peppers to cancel began to circulate.
However Red Hot Chili Peppers rejected them, issuing a brief video on 28 June which reaffirmed their “joy, pleasure and excitement” at playing in Tel Aviv and their “great love for Israel.”
“Come one, come all,” urged Chili Peppers band member Anthony Kiedis in the video. But that is exactly the point of the BDS call: Palestinians living under Israel’s apartheid-like restrictions are not free to attend concerts and face innumerable obstacles as dramatized in a brief video made to illustrate the near impossibility for millions of Palestinians to attend a recent Madonna concert in Tel Aviv.
Notably, the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert will be held in “Hayarkon Park” – the site of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Jarisha.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued an additional appeal to the group to change its mind and learn from the example of how cultural boycott had helped hasten the end of apartheid in South Africa.
“Boycott those who refuse to boycott”
Following Chili Peppers’ refusal to heed the boycott call, activist attention turned to Mashrou’ Leila urging them to “Boycott those who refuse to boycott.”
Mashrou’ Leila’s decision to cancel sends a signal to international acts that touring the region and including Israel on the schedule – despite Palestinian calls for boycott – will be met with resistance in Arab countries where public opinion strongly opposes what is often called “normalization.”