AUSTIN, Texas — Opponents of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine are urging superstar guitarist Carlos Santana to support their boycott of Israel’s apartheid policies.
Santana’s Luminosity Tour is scheduled to stop in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park on July 30, but activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are hoping he’ll change his mind at the behest of his peace-loving fans.
If he follows through with his plans, it would be Santana’s first performance in Israel in 29 years.
Mark Levine, a musician and contributing editor to Tikkun Daily, an interfaith anti-war website, penned an open letter to Santana in April, urging him to skip the trip. Levine wrote:
“It’s no understatement to say that I cannot imagine my life as a musician, professor, human rights activist or father without you and your inspiration. And so, with the profoundest possible respect and belief in the rights of all peoples to have their full measure of justice, peace, self-determination and freedom, I am begging you: Please don’t perform in Israel this July.”
Boycott From Within, an organization of Israeli supporters of the BDS movement, shared a similar open letter in May. The authors wrote:
“We are citizens of Israel who oppose our government’s military occupation and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people, and support the Palestinian-led, worldwide civil rights movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel (BDS). We write to you now in order to urge you to stand firm in solidarity with the oppressed, and say NO to the whitewashing of apartheid through music. We urge you to cancel your concert in Israel.”
The effort has also found its way to social media, where users are sharing anti-apartheid memes and a Facebook-based petition launched by Jewish Voice for Peace.
Carlos santana, PROVE you are still a viable musical force…
— DJ Rubiconski (@Rubiconski) June 22, 2016
Since the BDS movement was founded with a July 2005 notice from Palestinian activists, musicians and other celebrities have frequently become a target of the boycott. Activists have met with some success — Lauryn Hill, Gorillaz, Talib Kweli and Neil Young are among the many musicians who have canceled concerts in the apartheid state.
There are some indications that Santana may prove more resistant, however. In March, The Times of Israel quoted a statement from Santana’s manager, Michael Vrionis, suggesting plans were going ahead:
“Carlos Santana is a citizen of the World and he plays his music and spreads his message of Love, Light & Peace wherever he goes … Carlos believes the World should have no borders so he is not detoured or discouraged to play anywhere on this planet. We look forward to performing in Israel this summer.”
Yet activists remain undeterred.
Garik Ruiz, the North America advocacy advisor for the BDS National Committee, told teleSUR on June 10, “We are working very hard to be in communication with him about the international picket line and telling him not to cross it.”
Success with Santana would mark a major victory for the movement, he said. “We have had many campaigns targeting artists but Santana is the most high profile.”
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