Black Eyed Peas: Celebrating South African freedom while normalizing Israeli apartheid

The Black Eyed Peas

Dear William Adams, Allen Pineda, Stacy Ferguson, and Jamie Gomez,

We are writing you regarding the Black Eyed Peas’ concert in Tel Aviv June 3rd during which you put on a spectacular performance to an effusive Israeli crowd who the next day, as the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported, would return “to the daily routine Sunday morning of matriculation exams and military duty at the roadblocks.”

During the concert, Ms. Ferguson declared that Israel is “one of the most fun places on the planet.” Mr. Adams described the Peas’ time in Israel as “the best five days of our lives.”

However, for your Palestinian fans living in the West Bank in Gaza, who are not allowed to travel to Tel Aviv to attend hip-hop shows due to the very same roadblocks mentioned by Ha’aretz, life under the thumb of Israeli occupation is anything but fun.

In the week leading up to your concert, Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians, including one child. A further 28 Palestinian civilians were wounded by Israeli gunfire, amongst them, ten children. Shelling in the Gaza Strip terrorized the civilian population while in the West Bank, the Israeli army conducted 42 incursions into Palestinian population centers (statistics from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights). These severe measures are how Palestinians regularly experience Israel’s 39-year occupation and continued colonization of Palestinian land.

Your show in Tel Aviv came days after the Black Eyed Peas’ benefit concert in South Africa’s Johannesburg Stadium, where you performed with South African musicians to commemorate ten years of freedom from apartheid. Palestinians are similarly faced with systematic Israeli oppression as they struggle for their right to self-determination, facing the same brutal and racist power dynamics formerly endured by their brothers and sisters in South Africa.

During South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, culture-makers around the world boycotted the apartheid state to let it know that its behavior was not acceptable in the world community of nations. Similarly, Palestinians nonviolently confronting the Israeli occupation call on the international community to make sure Israel gets the message that its oppression in the West Bank and Gaza will not be rewarded with normal relations with the rest of the world — including performances by an internationally renowned hip-hop band.

Musician Roger Waters recently took this cue and, instead of performing in Tel Aviv, he is planning to put on a show in a rare Israeli community where the state’s Jewish and Arab populations live together as equals.

We hope that the Peas, given how much they value freedom, would consider performing for the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza, where a performance by a world-renowned group would be a rare opportunity for celebration, and remind the rest of the world of this people’s continued plight.

Sincerely,

Maureen Clare Murphy, Chicago, IL
Nigel Parry, New York, NY

Related Links

  • A Stinging Tribute to an Apartheid State: An Open Letter to Sting Urging him to Cancel his Israel Gig, Open Letter, PACBI (6 June 2006)
  • Roger Waters Refuses to be Another Brick in Israel’s Wall, Press Release, PACBI (19 April 2006)
  • Open Letter to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Open Letter, Various undersigned (18 March 2006)
  • Open Letter to Actress Sharon Stone, Open Letter, Palestinian civil society members (21 March 2006)
  • Open letter to Madonna, Angela Godfrey-Goldstein (15 September 2004)
  • Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers fans…, Nigel Parry (6 July 2001)
  • Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • BY TOPIC: Academic and Cultural Boycott
  • BY TOPIC: Aid, Boycotts & Divestment

    Nigel Parry is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and Maureen Clare Murphy edits its Arts, Music and Culture section