For Immediate Release
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June 26, 2013, New York City, NY – Alicia Keys took legal action to remove a popular video from Youtube that depicted Palestinian women protesting Israel”s military occupation to the tune of Keys” song “This Girl Is on Fire.” According to a Youtube notification, the video, that echoed widespread calls for Keys to cancel her July 4 concert in Tel Aviv, was removed Monday due to a claim by “Alicia Keys c/o Ziffren Brittenheim LLP” of “copyright infringement.” The video had been featured on MSNBC”s Grio, the Atlanta Black Star, and many other websites.
Rana Hamadeh, a Palestinian protester featured at the beginning of the removed video standing atop an Israeli military vehicle waving a Palestinian flag (video from that protest), explained, “It is enough that we face physical and emotional violence and restrictions on our daily lives. But now we are also being silenced on the internet. I think if Alicia Keys understood the call to boycott, she would agree to honor it. She said that music “is meant to unify audiences in peace and love.” Emulating South Africa”s successful anti-apartheid boycott movement, the Palestinian boycott campaign will ultimately bring about peace and unify our land in a way that playing a concert on stolen land certainly won’t.”
She added “Alicia Keys should protect Palestinian children’s rights, and listen to the message from Palestinian women, rather than silencing them.”
The makers of the video also expressed dismay at Keys” removal of the empowering video. A number of videos that include the music and lyrics from “This Girl Is On Fire” have not been removed from Youtube*.
The video”s removal came amidst mounting calls for Keys not to play in Israel. The Palestinian branch of an international organization focusing on children”s rights, Defense for Children International Palestine, urged Keys to uphold the mission of her non-profit “Keep A Child Alive” and cancel her concert due to Israel”s abuses of Palestinian children”s rights. French human rights advocates held protests at Keys” concerts in Lyon, Marseille and Paris where they managed to directly ask both Keys” musicians and Keys herself to cancel the concert in Israel. More than 50 US organizations working with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation also sent Keys” publicist and “Keep a Child Alive” a letter asking her to cancel her July 4 show.
Ramah Kudaimi from US Campaign added, “Alicia Keys claims to advocate for children”s rights, but only last week the UN said that the Israeli government tortures Palestinian children and uses them as human shields, and the Israeli government just shut down a major theater festival for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. Ignoring these actions and proceeding with the Tel Aviv concert only bolsters the impunity of the Israeli government and prolongs the injustices Palestinians face.”
On June 11, a delegation of Palestinian-Americans, representing coalitions of more than 500 US organizations, delivered a petition signed by more than 12,000 people to the New York City office of Keep a Child Alive, calling on Keys to “join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid.”
In response to Israel”s large-scale abuses of Palestinian rights, Palestinian civil society launched a call for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel in 2005, modeled on the call by black South Africans for a boycott of apartheid South Africa that helped bring an end to the racist system. In response, numerous musicians, including Elvis Costello, Santana, The Pixies, and others have cancelled concerts or refrained from playing in Israel. In May, physicist Stephen Hawking cancelled his planned participation in a conference in Israel, following Palestinian requests.
*This sentence was revised on June 27th, updating the original version which said: “A number of parody videos of “This Girl Is on Fire” have not been removed from Youtube.