Artists play a galvanizing role in shaping popular opinion on the defining issues of our time.
Historic struggles for justice are often remembered at a grassroots level not by campaign slogans or political speeches but via artistic symbols. Art can capture both the human emotion and political energy of critical moments in history, etching cultural expression into our collective social conscious.
Gaza's humanitarian crisis is alarming the world and accordingly many artists are standing with Palestine in unprecedented ways, including poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron.
A foundational figure to hip-hop culture, Scott-Heron marks contemporary artistic history as a rap innovator but also as a wordsmith, capturing the essence of critical fault lines in America via ruff poetics. Heron's recent cancellation of a planned concert in Tel Aviv, "until everyone is welcome there," words directed at the apartheid nature of Israel, is a historic development.
Other artists, like Elvis Costello, are also sounding an artistic alarm on Palestinian suffering, pointing to a fast approaching watershed moment in the global arts movement for Palestine.
"It is a matter of instinct and conscience," writes Costello, in an open letter on the cancelation of a concert in Israel this summer. "There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent."