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lauryn hill cancels israel show amidst boycott controversy

The former Fugee won’t be taking her show to either side of the West Bank Wall, but here’s why you shouldn’t blame social media campaigns.

Emily Manning

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

"I refugee from Guantanamo Bay/ Dance around the border like I'm Cassius Clay," Pras spat in his final bar on The Fugees' Enya-sampling single Ready or Not. Yet it seems his fellow founding member Lauryn Hill won't be border hopping any time soon: the singer has canceled her upcoming Tel Aviv show three days before her slated appearance.

Reports have chalked up Hill's decision to pressure from boycott campaigns calling for artists to cease performing in the controversial region while Israeli forces continue to occupy the disputed territory (one activist group, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, even launched a social media campaign that appropriated lyrics from Hill's haunting cover of Killing Me Softly and applied them to the conflict.) Yet in a rather diplomatic statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Hill explained that the cancellation only came after she was unable to organize a date in the Palestinian Territory as well.

"My intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge," the singer wrote. Hill made no mention of social media campaigns or larger boycott efforts, instead stating: "It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel, and seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region."

Although Hill might not be (publicly) down with the boycott, artists including Sinead O'Connor, Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, and Brian Eno have all thrown their support behind efforts to change Israeli party lines through cultural embargo.

"May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people," Hill's statement concluded. Hear, hear. 

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Text Emily Manning
Photography Greg Chow via Flickr Creative Commons