In a Major Reversal, Middle Eastern Musician Rejects Boycott of Israel

Natacha Atlas is a Belgian singer of Moroccan, Egyptian, and Palestinian descent. In 2011, under pressure from boycott activists, she chose to refrain from playing in Israel. She now has reversed that decision and is scheduled to perform in Israel this spring.

Anyone who believes in the power of music to heal should applaud Natacha’s inspiring leadership in taking a stand for music as an instrument of peace and dialogue by maintaining her commitment to perform, despite pressure by misguided groups that seek to politicize art.

In a post on her official Facebook page, Natacha echoed our central message that art and music can encourage dialogue, foster better understanding, and hopefully lead toward greater mutual acceptance when she wrote, “As an artist, I have an unwavering faith in music as the universal means of communication – the fundamental means through which people can connect with each other on the most basic of levels: their shared humanity.”

The over 25,000 people from across the globe who have signed CCFP’s Anti-Boycott Petition support Natacha’s upcoming performance in Israel and the independence of artists. They represent the mainstream view and believe, as we do, that cultural boycotts based on misinformation undermine our sense of world community and discourage discourse.

A small but vocal minority are using the forums of music and culture to make inflammatory and incorrect political points. Unfortunately, they are likely to continue to try to persuade Natacha to change her mind and reverse her principled stance. Ultimately, these boycott efforts are an affront to Palestinian and Israeli moderates alike who seek to reach peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.

All people of peace wish for a resolution to the complicated Palestinian/Israeli conflict and believe that the special connection between artists and their fans and the dialogue it enables can be part of the solution.

Lana Melman