British comedian Eddie Izzard landed in Israel Thursday afternoon to perform in Tel Aviv in the evening and then to run in the Palestine Marathon on Friday…or so he thought.
Responding to the comedian’s tweet, the official Twitter account of the Palestine Marathon made it clear that they would not allow this, writing, “British comedian Eddie Izzard cannot run for freedom this Friday if he entertains in Tel Aviv on Thursday.”
Eddie Izzard was surely attempting to show his support for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, yet the Marathon — following the decree of BDS and their concept of “anti-normalization” — has essentially told him that that’s impossible, that he has to choose between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Normalization,” in short, is defined as any cooperation or interaction with anybody who violates the central premises or guidelines of the BDS movement, and does not aim to realize its three stated goals, which ultimately aim for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
The “anti-normalization” movement, an outgrowth of BDS,” is dedicated to pressuring Palestinians, Arabs, and people in general not to engage in projects with those whom they consider to be guilty of “normalization.”
So, because Eddie Izzard is performing in Israel — a violation of the BDS guidelines — he is considered guilty of “normalization” and hence is a persona non grata amongst Palestinians. Sadly, this is not a unique situation.
Back in 2009, legendary musician Leonard Cohen scheduled concerts in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Unfortunately, his show in Ramallah was cancelled and BDS claimed victory, saying, “Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel‘s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel.”
More recently, the same thing happened to Ms. Lauryn Hill, who canceled her show in Israel in 2015 after it became clear that she would be unable to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah, since no Palestinian venues — thanks to pressure from BDS — would agree to host her if she performed in Israel as well.
And it isn’t just the Palestinian Territories — but rather the entire Arab world — that BDS tries to make off-limits to artists who perform in Israel. In 2013, when Alicia Keys performed in Dubai after her concert in Tel Aviv, BDS urged the venue in Dubai to cancel her show and “tell her that she is not welcome in Arab countries,” simply because she performed in Israel. We saw it again when the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSI) called on the Lebanese people to boycott Chris Brown’s show if he continued with his performance in Israel, which he did.
In all of these cases, artists are told that they they can either support Israelis or Palestinians — but not both — and that if they perform for Israelis, then they have automatically taken a stand against Palestinians and are no longer welcome among them.
Music, art, and comedy should be used to bring us together, never to tear us apart. Those of us who care about peace must do our utmost to tackle this “us or them” mentality being spread by BDS.
We at Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an organization comprised of prominent members of the entertainment industry dedicated to promoting the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel, are supremely disheartened by this discriminatory tactic, which has long been propagated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.