At a time when the region is on fire, an incendiary video seeks to stoke the flames.
Appearing in the recently released video “When I See Them I See Us,” Ms. Lauryn Hill sides with discord. The Black Palestinian Solidarity produced clip is replete with false comparisons between the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic and simmering tensions between black Americans and the police force in the United States. Known Israel detractors Angela Davis, Dr. Cornel West, Alice Walker, Danny Glover and Omar Barghouti also participated in the video awash with inflammatory rhetoric such as, “They burned me alive in Jerusalem.”
Misappropriating an artist’s song to create an emotionally manipulative video is a common tactic of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. An artist voluntarily appearing in the same is a blow against hope of reconciliation.
Earlier this year, Ms.Hill abruptly canceled her scheduled performance for Israeli fans following intense pressure by the BDS campaign. Just days after her Tel Aviv concert was announced, the singer’s social media pages were flooded with anti-Israel posts urging her to cancel. Fallacious charges ranged from the political to the ridiculous (that Israel abducted 25,000 Ukrainian children to harvest their organs) to the blatantly anti-Semitic (a bloody graphic of Netanyahu cannibalizing a child).
Boycott proponents claimed that performing in Israel meant she was giving a “stamp of approval” to false claims of colonialism, apartheid, oppression and ethnic cleansing. They singled her out as a minority artist, inferring that if she didn’t support the boycott, she would be betraying her community.
These are classic BDS tactics of intimidation.
When an artist falls prey to BDS tactics and cancels a performance because of career concerns or fear for his or her safety, boycott proponents celebrate a victory. When artists subsequently endorse the boycott or denounce Israel, as Thurston Moore did earlier this year and Lauryn Hill did this week, they mischaracterize it as a trend.
The songstress gave up an opportunity to learn the truth for herself when she canceled her performance in Israel. She gave up her power to be a bridge for peace when she participated in the video.
Ms. Hill explained the cancellation on Facebook by saying that she intended to perform in both Israel and the West Bank, but since that wasn’t possible, she didn’t want her “presence or message [to] be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans.”
Her Facebook post ended with the following wish, “May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people.”
Ms. Hill, you should have left it at that.