Billboard ran a story earlier in the week about the first ever Palestine music expo with many factual inaccuracies, including referring to Ramallah, Haifa and Jerusalem as “three Palestinian cities,” and referring to the “sovereign state” of Palestine. A few of our board members wrote to Billboard calling for a correction, which the website did make. See our letter to the editor & the original article below.
Lettor to the editor:
In Billboard’s 10/3 story, ‘Palestine Music Expo, with Cooking Vinyl and Glastonbury Co-Sign, Looks to Draw Attention to a Burgeoning Industry,’ writer Richard Smirke refers to Palestine as a ‘sovereign state’ and further cites the ‘…Palestinian cities Ramallah, Haifa and Jerusalem.’ While the current situation in Israel can often be complex and impassioned, these two statements are blatantly false and incendiary. To casually drop such confrontational terminology into a soft-news piece is not only politically insensitive but also journalistically irresponsible.
As a Co-founder of Creative Community For Peace, we applaud and support any arts festival in Israel that brings artists and audiences together in music, creativity and constructive dialog. However, we find the use of such antagonistic terms to be disturbing. We may not all share the same politics or the same opinion on the best path to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, but we do agree that cultural boycotts (advocated by many Palestinians against Israel) and combative semantics will not advance hopes for diplomatic co-existence.
Furthermore, the article neglects to explore – or even mention – the Palestinians well-documented policy of ‘anti-normalization,’ whereby Palestinians are encouraged and/or threatened not to play with Israelis, and international acts that play in Israel are not welcomed to Palestinian territories. “Anti-normalization,” explains Haaretz, “seeks to police all interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, and, as such, disrupts programs that it perceives as being unaligned with its agenda. This makes life particularly hard for those of us in the ‘people-to-people’ community – who bring Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians together in school, agricultural, high-tech and advocacy programs.”
Independent artists including Madonna, Elton John, Santana, Alicia Keys, One Republic, Robbie Williams, Rihanna, Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, Paul McCartney, Baaba Maal, Black Eyed Peas, Missy Elliot, Metallica, Linkin Park, Lady Gaga, Seal, Erykah Badu and many others have refused to bow to pressure from such organizations, and have enthusiastically performed – to audiences of every nationality – in Israel. We also don’t see any inclusion of Israeli artists who have collaborated with Muslim and Arab musicians and promote co-existence, such as David Broza or Idan Raichel. CCFP would welcome the opportunity to discuss our ongoing efforts to support and encourage these artists, promote the arts as a means to resolution, and correct the aggressive misinformation of movements like BDS (the boycott Israel movement).
We respectfully request that Billboard correct the misstatements described above and allow us to present the other side of this discussion – one of which you were apparently not aware – in the interests of fair journalism, freedom of artistic expression, and promoting positive dialogue that can continue to build bridges.
Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) is an organization dedicated to promoting the arts as a bridge to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel. CCFP is comprised of people from a cross-section of the cultural world who represent a broad range of opinions on politics and on the best path to resolving the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis. But we all agree that singling out Israel as a target of cultural boycotts will not further peace.