Gil Scott Heron cancels Israel gig
Sunday, 25 April 2010 09:56
Written by James Meadway
Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, last night sensationally announed the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv.
Speaking on-stage at London's Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he "hated war" and, in a lengthy monolougue, told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead.
His concert had earlier been disrupted by fans dismayed at the booking, repeatedly heckling the performer and asking him to cancel.
Security was called and audience members threatened with removal.
A Facebook page was set up to urge the legendary perfomer against going ahead with his Israel appearance.
It stated "This is a huge mistake from an enduring cultural and political hero. Let's see if we can change his mind."
Over one thousand people have joined the page.
Scott-Heron is perhaps best-known for the classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and was a leading voice in calling for the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, joining United Artist Against Apartheid in the 1980s.
His sharply political songs have provided a space for his own militant, anti-racist politics.
With Palestinian artists and musicians calling for a cultural boycott of Israel, campaigners were deeply saddened by Scott-Heron's apparent decision to play a high-profile gig there.
"Gil Scott-Heron's music has always been about fighting racism," said protestor Sara el-Sheekh.
"But Palestinians daily face the most terrible oppression from the Israeli occupation – easily comparable to apartheid in South Africa.
Musicians and artists should not be giving this apartheid state any legitimacy."
It's great news that this date has been cancelled. Scott-Heron was cheered and applauded when he made his announcement."
Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight for a cultural boycott of Israel.
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