Home   »  Our Work  »  Boycott & Divestment Campaigns  »  Academic & Cultural Boycott  »  Cultural Boycott  »  Alicia Keys: Don't Be Fallin for ...  »  Media Coverage

For Immediate Release: July 1st, 2013

As Keys Heads to Israel, African Americans Compare Treatment of Palestinians to Jim Crow South

Washington, D.C.- As a campaign calling on world-famous artist Alicia Keys to cancel her July 4 concert in Israel continued, African Americans, including Angela Davis and actress LisaGay Hamilton, released a statement reaffirming parallels between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and discrimination against African Americans living under Jim Crow in the United States. The statement was signed by academics, artists, clergy, activists and a retired city councilman. According to the co-sponsors, it was prompted by attacks on the analogy between Israel's treatment of Palestinians and Jim Crow that followed Alice Walker's use of it in an interview, and later, her allusion to it in an open letter calling on Keys to cancel her concert  The attacks came in the form of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, an editorial in the New York Daily News, and an Israeli government op-ed in the New York Post.

Titled “African Americans Affirming the Jim Crow analogy in Palestine/Israel,” the statement “affirm[ed] the accuracy of parallels drawn between the experience of African Americans in the U.S. under Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” Signatories cited a 2012 report from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that “framed Israel’s treatment of both its Palestinian citizens, and those living under military rule in the occupied territories, in terms of segregation and racial discrimination.” Their criticism of how Palestinians are treated extends to the situation of citizens of Israel, linking to a report by Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, which lists several dozen laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens.

Alicia Keys is set to play a concert in Israel on the 4th of July, ignoring a growing campaign of direct pleas not to perform in Israel from artists including Alice Walker and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, a searingly critical piece in NBC’s African American hub The Grio, appeals to Keep A Child Alive, the nonprofit organization she co-founded, and even pushback from African American artists on Twitter, including vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello and rapper Talib Kweli.

Felicia Eaves, co-chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and a signatory to the letter commented “It’s completely accurate to draw parallels between the segregation and discrimination of Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Angela [Davis], myself and others have made this analogy previously, because our travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories reminded us of the oppression we’ve faced in the past right here in the United States.”

Drawing yet another parallel to the U.S. civil rights movement, the letter ends expressing “no surprise” that Keys is being urged “to employ the time-honored, peaceful method of boycott.”

The numerous calls for her cancellation come in response to a 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, modeled after the successful decades-long campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. As part of the call for cultural boycott, artists are asked not to perform in Israel, particularly the city of Tel Aviv, echoing the many that refused to play in South Africa’s Sun City.

Full statement: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3626.

###