Mar 22, 2011


"Cambridge, MA, March 20, 2011 – Peace and justice activists came together at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre today to ask the South African musical performance group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to cancel their June 24th tour date in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Heeding the international call from Palestine for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel because of its continued violations of Palestinian human rights, the activists urged Ladysmith to uphold BDS and boycott apartheid wherever it exists.  Demonstrators held signs documenting the historical and political connections between apartheid South Africa and apartheid Israel.  They also distributed flyers to concertgoers educating about these connections and urging fans to take action by asking Ladysmith to cancel their Israeli tour date.

Ladysmith has already encountered U.S. pressure to cancel its Israel performance in North Carolina, when members of North Carolina BDS demonstrated at the group’s Durham concert and engaged in a long conversation with the group’s manager.  This U.S.-based activism echoes international calls to Ladysmith to cancel its Israel appearance from the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) as well as South African organizations like the Coalition of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the African National Congress (ANC). 

The campaign appears to be having some impact, as there is increasing uncertainty as to whether or not the concert will take place.  Mitch Goldstein, the group’s manager, has stated openly that the show in Tel Aviv is not happening.  He conveyed this via email with North Carolina BDS and also allowed himself to be videotaped by them declaring as much.  Goldstein agreed to a similar such video interview with the Boston activists, stating explicitly that on June 24th, Ladysmith will be on a plane headed from London back to South Africa (video forthcoming soon).  However, as of March 19th, tickets were still available for sale online through the Tel Aviv Opera House website and it appears as though a good number of them have been sold.

Many artists, performers, and cultural workers have withdrawn from Israeli venues or refused to perform in Israel because of its human rights abuses, including Pete Seeger,  Elvis Costello, Jean-Luc Godard, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, and Massive Attack. 

The Boston activists were pleased to be part of the larger, international movement calling for BDS against Israel until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the wall, recognizes the equal rights of Palestinian citizens, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees. "

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