Should Macy Gray perform in Tel Aviv? Ask Said Amireh of occupied Ni’lin

I put this question to my friend Said Amireh, a 19-year-old resident of the occupied West Bank town of Ni’lin. He said he’d like to see her perform in Tel Aviv, but he can’t. Why? Because his town is imprisoned behind the Israeli segregation wall. Meanwhile, the residents of the illegal Jews-only settlement of Hashmonaim who live just meters away, on the other side of the wall, travel to and from Tel Aviv on special bypass roads, and have annexed thousands of dunams of Ni’lin’s land.

Said is a participant in Ni’lin’s weekly unarmed demonstrations against the wall (see what it’s like here). Since the town rose up, the Israeli army has killed four of its residents, while injuring and jailing hundreds of others. Said was jailed for four and half months, then had to drop out of school and go to work when his father, Ibrahim, was imprisoned under specious charges of “incitement.” I attended one of Ibrahim’s trials in the Israeli military court at Ofer, and watched a military prosecutor and military judge railroad him despite scant evidence that he had committed any crime beyond organizing unarmed resistance against his dispossession.

“When I try to work my land,” Ibrahim Amireh said at the conclusion of the trial, “the Occupation comes and takes it away. When I try to resist them taking it away, the Occupation arrests me and puts me in jail. What else can I do?”

The South African Artists Against Apartheid has issued a letter to Macy Gray demanding that she take into account the voices of people living under occupation like Said and reconsider her trip to Tel Aviv:

We are writing to you to encourage you to reconsider performing in Israel. You might wonder what purpose refusing to perform in Israel (in line with the cultural boycott call) might serve? As a people whose parents and grandparents suffered under (and resisted) Apartheid in South Africa, our history is testament to the value and legitimacy that the international boycott had in bringing to an end the Apartheid regime in our country. When artists and sportspeople began refusing to perform in South Africa, the world’s eyes turned to the injustices that were happening here to people of colour. This then created a wave of pressure on politicians and world leaders representing their constituencies, to insist on a regime-change – this contributed to a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa.

Inspired by the boycott of Apartheid South Africa, Palestinians have called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign of Israel. As you are aware, this call has been actively supported by some Israelis as well. The aim of the campaign is not to target Israeli civilians, but to draw attention to the unjust acts that the Israeli state commits on a daily basis in their name.

The belief that cultural activities are “apolitical” is simply a myth. Artists have greater followings than politicians do; millions of people admire them and look to them as role models. They have a moral obligation to stand up against injustice all over the world. By performing in a country whose government systematically makes life unbearable for a targeted group of people is to ignore all sense of justice and morality and creates the impression that “it’s none of my business, I’m just here to entertain”…

13 thoughts on “Should Macy Gray perform in Tel Aviv? Ask Said Amireh of occupied Ni’lin

  1. Arabi

    People like Macy Gray, or Justin Bieber, are not interested in Human suffering, as long as the cash is flowing, no matter from whom, or from where, and no matter how many arguments one can presents them, they will always find excuses (poor ones, mind you) to support apartheid, ethnic cleansing, land theft, and murder in broad daylight. As long as financial gains are their first and foremost aim, no one can expect any principled position from them.

  2. E

    From a strictly moral point of view – it really does not make sense for an American artist to boycott Israel.

    American drone strikes have killed many many more Afghani civilians this year than Israel has killed Palestinian civilians. The American occupation of Afghanistan is entering its 9th year. But just like the Tel-Aviv socialites that Joseph and Max like to criticize – this description fits them perfectly in the American context. Max can visit his upper class parents in a white upper class suburb of Washington DC and absolve himself of his father’s participation in an administration that continued to bomb and kill around the world as well as impose a severe sanctions regime on Iraq that makes the sanctions on gaza seem like a paradise

    – yet he can pretend that he is liberal and absolve himself of his guilt because he voted for Barak Obama, and his dad (AFTER circulating racist right wing attacks on him) now writes op-eds in favor of Obama.

    Will Max advocate for the boycott of the United States or call US soldiers war criminals like he does to IDF soldiers? Of course not – because such a move would horrify his bourgeois white limousine liberal American fans who like to sit in their upper class north eastern neighborhoods and pretend they are fighting for human rights by telling Macy Gray to boycott Israel and calling the IDF war criminals – but would never call US soldiers war criminals because after all – Progressives are patriotic Americans as well and we are good progressives because we vote for Barak Obama, the killer of hundreds of Afghani and Pakistani civilians by escalating drone attacks to a level 10x that of the Bush administration. And of course we are good human rights fighters, advocating the boycott of Tel Aviv bourgeois to shock them out of their complacency – while we sit in our cafes, sipping chai mocha soy lattes wearing our “yes we can Obama” shirts.


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  5. walt kovacs

    i really love newspeak

    how can one speak about “non violence” then talk to a man who organizes “unarmed” protests?

    what are “unarmed” protests max?

    i will tell your gentle readers

    unarmed protests are the use of teen terrorists in training, throwing rocks and other non hot weapons at soldiers and other observers who are not arabs.

    an example of two of these protests can be seen in the new louis theroux bbc doc.

    only problem with calling them “unarmed” protests, is that nowhere else in the world would a rock thrower be considered “unarmed”.

  6. Rose

    And here we go again… the Zionist Troller-in-chief of the blog defending the use of live bullets, rubber bullets and tear gas against rock throwers.

    And for the umpteenth time he continues to use the number one zionist hasbara talking point “there are more evil places in the world than Israel” which apparently is supposed to justify Israeli war crimes against an unarmed civilian population.

  7. walt kovacs


    i warmly invite you to come to los angeles during any of the many protests that occur here.

    and please, start throwing rocks at the lapd officers that are keeping the peace.

    better still…why dont you google what happened to a mexican national on the border when he threw rocks at our border patrol officers…and how the use of deadly force (not tear gas or rubber bullets) was found to be justifiable.

    im not saying there are worse places than israel, im saying that across the world, rock throwing is never considered “peaceful” or “unarmed” protest

    it is both armed and violent

    and the organizer he is speaking to is therefore a terrorist, who will never be invited to attend anything in the state of israel

  8. Rose

    Here we go again! Justifying brutal and criminal police behaviour in the USA and the world! Again, we are not supposed to criticise Israel for its war crimes and excessive use of power just because other countries do the same!

    Also you wrote the exact same thing more than a month ago! Don’t you have anything new to say! The Troll is running out of ideas and words!

    Dear Walter Kovacs from the Watchmen get your Ziosupremacist ass off this blog and go back to your illegal settlement. (I like how you keep saying you live in LA every time you talk about police brutality. No one is buying that you live there. Everything about you stinks of bloody illegal settlements)

  9. walt kovacs


    how many times must i tell you…there is no “the” in watchmen

    and the border police were found to have used appropriate force

    i would like to note that two of their comrades are now sitting in prison for shooting a drug runner….so they do police their own

    you can spew all the bs you want…but you cant find a police force anywhere in the world that considers rock throwers….”unarmed”

    shall we next go through the list of injuries and deaths caused by those who have thrown rocks at others? its a nice long list, and includes many arabs too

    max pals around with terrorists….

  10. Rose

    Sure let’s go through that rock throwing list after we go through the list of people killed by white phosphorus amongst other illegal weapons. It includes a lot of Zionist war criminals like yourself.

    So the US polices it’s own ha? When will Israel police its own? You just destroyed your own argument.

    Also, please go and read your own grammar I never capitalise “the” when I use it to refer to the [comic book] Watchmen. But hey, no one said comprehension and grammar are your strongest point.

    Again, Walter Kovacs from the Watchmen, get your Ziosupremacist ass off this blog. We don’t want any stinking war crime apologists here.

  11. Ilay

    It’s actually ironic, quoting Said Amire:

    1. He WANTS to go to the concert.
    2. He WANTS the concert to be cancelled.

    Please let him know that choosing one option will help understand him and his true desires.

  12. gd

    Said’s words, “making a silent catastrophe here”, have much more meaning then songs in concerts for his oppressors ever could.

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