Open Letter to Pharrell Williams:   “Please cancel your concert in Tel Aviv, Palestine’s children deserve Freedom”

Mr. Williams, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) joins the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions South Africa group (BDS SA) in urging you to cancel your scheduled concert in Tel Aviv, Israel in September 2015.

Mr. Williams, we applaud the assertion in your latest track, “Freedom,” that “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, or how much you make, you deserve Freedom.”  As progressive educators, we fully agree with your educational foundation’s mission to “change the world one kid at a time.”  Yet by performing in Tel Aviv, Israel, in violation of the Palestinian call for global solidarity in the form of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law, ends its illegal occupation of Arab land, and stops violating the human rights of Palestinians, you seem to be indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian children, who are denied the most basic human rights by Israel.

In addition, we urge you to respond to the call of BDS South Africa and cancel your sponsorship and marketing contract with Woolworths, a company being boycotted throughout South Africa for its sales of Israeli products, funding and benefiting apartheid. “Woolworths is currently the target of thelargest consumer boycott that South Africa has witnessed since the end of apartheid in 1994 due to its persistent continued trade with Israeli entities. Woolworths is deliberately ignoring the pleas of its customers, youth movements, education groups, human rights organisations, trade unions and South African government ministers to stop sourcing products from Israel,” writes BDS South Africa.

Last week, baby Ali Dawabsheh, 18 months old, was burnt alive in an arson attack on his home in Douma in the occupied West Bank.  Hours later, 14-year-old Laith Khalidi died of wounds received when Israeli forces shot at civilians protesting baby Ali’s death.  Ali and Laith are only the latest young victims of Israel’s crimes.  Last year, 551 children were killed in Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza, and approximately 80% of Palestinian children suffer from PTSD as a result of Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza, including its schools and hospitals.  Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, millions of Palestinians have never lived one single day of their lives in Freedom and Dignity.  By performing in Israel, in violation of the call for BDS, you are condoning Israel’s crimes, and telling Palestinians you do not believe they deserve Freedom.

Mr. Williams, please join the long list of artists like Lauryn Hill, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Annie Lenox, Roger Waters, the Pixies, and many more, who have cancelled their scheduled concerts in Israel or pledged not to perform there until Palestinians gain their human rights.

– US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

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Join in the call to Pharrell Williams: Don’t break the Palestinian picket line: join the global boycott.

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