British crooner Sir Tom Jones has become the latest target of an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to pressure the popular singer into cancelling his scheduled October 27 concert in the Jewish state.
On Friday, Israel’s Consul for Public Affairs in New York, Gil Lainer, said in an email that over the past few weeks the Welsh singer has become “the latest victim of a fringe campaign pushing for a boycott of Israel, which bullies artists and academics from coming to Israel,” and encouraged Israel supporters to contact him via Twitter (@RealSirTomJones) with positive messages. Lainer credited the activism of online supporters of Israel for why “artists like Alicia Keys stood up to online bullying, and had an amazing time in Israel this July in a pair of sold out shows.”
“Over the past few months, our community has done a fantastic job telling the truth about these anti-Israel campaigns, and dissecting and dismantling their ‘argument’ for boycotts,” Lainer said.
Yesterday, Afropop musician Salif Keita canceled a performance scheduled for today at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival on the recommendation of his management and agents after they said they could not guarantee his safety in the face of “threats, blackmail attempts, intimidation, social media harassment and slander” from the “extremist” anti-Israel BDS movement.
Earlier this week, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, who features a Jewish star painted on a giant inflatable pig at his concerts and is a seven-year member of the international BDS movement, called on other musicians and performers to join him in a new boycott of Israel.
Jewish organizations and human rights groups responded sharply. “If I were a musician looking to protest human rights abuses today, I would be looking at Syria, at Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, everywhere but Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli told Waters that his cultural boycott should “go all the way,” and include an image of her used in a video montage for his show, which he’s been doing since at least 2011. Jewish heavy metal rocker David Draiman of Disturbed and Device has also stood up to Waters, and many international superstar musicians including, Alanis Morissette and rapper Pitbull have performed in Israel in the past year without any problems. Rihanna, 25, arguably one of the highest profile singers in the world today, is planning to visit Israel to perform in Tel Aviv, in October.
A statement that Keita published on Facebook made a point of explaining that the decision not to perform today was the result of physical threats and intimidation, not politics, echoing what The Animals’s Eric Burdon said after announcing last month that he would pull out of a concert in Israel, though Burdon changed his mind at the last minute, performing in Israel without a hitch.
“No music fans should be punished because of the agenda of online bullies,” Lainer said.
Sir Tom was knighted in 2006 and has had 36 Top 40 hits in the UK and 19 in the US, including “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat,” “She’s a Lady,” “Kiss,” and “Sex Bomb.”