Saturday, June 18, 2011
Cancel Your Concerts! Shades of "Ain't Gonna Play Sun City"
Back in the era of apartheid South Africa, Sun City was a internationally-renowned concert venue in the white-minority-ruled country. It was set up in one of the hopelessly corrupt fake-independent Bantustans to lure international tourists. Eventually, boycotting the hypnotic lure of Sun City was a badge of honor for socially conscious musicians. Refusing offers to play for the profit of racists became an important part of the movement to isolate the apartheid regime economically and culturally. The video above is an amazing (and fun!) part of the campaign to extend that movement to the BDS (Boycott-Divestments-Sanctions) campaign against the Israeli apartheid state.
The video calls on artists like Paul Simon, Moby, Kiri Te Kanawa, Duran Duran and others to cancel their plans to play in venues in Israel. It also builds support for the upcoming Freedom Flotilla 2 to break the Israeli blockade against Gaza: author Alice Walker, who will be on the flotilla, calls the blockade runners "the freedom riders of our time." Intentionally ironically, the American vessel in this flotilla has been christened "The Audacity of Hope." Israel has already announced its plans to commit piracy and terrorism against the flotilla. It warned — hilariously? tragically? — that anyone who defends themselves against boarding by Israeli pirates will be seen as an "attacker" and dealt with accordingly.
The musicians who boycotted Sun City are remembered as heroes who did the right thing. It will be the same with today's musicians who are confronted with a choice: money or morality. This film clip is the work of Canadian filmmaker John Greyson. Major props to him for making such a clever and accessible vehicle communicating the importance of the BDS campaign.
BDS is not just for famous people: it's something everybody can participate in by boycotting consumer products — such as Sabra (& Shattila) hummus — with ties to the Israeli state and forces of repression.