Author Alice Walker, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for The Color Purple, has written an open letter to Alicia Keys urging the singer to cancel her upcoming concert in Israel.
Walker, an advocate of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, warns the Grammy winner against putting herself in “soul danger” by performing in what she calls “an apartheid country.” The 400-word note goes on to say that, via a campaign named “Brand Israel,” Israeli government officials “have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.”
But Keys’ July 4 performance at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Theatre will go on as scheduled. In response to the open letter, Keys told The New York Times, “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”
Such protests are not uncommon when it comes to acts touring in the tiny country. In recent years, such artists as Elvis Costello, the Pixies and Carlos Santana have called off gigs at virtually the last minute, while others, like Macy Gray and Roger Waters, have considered similar actions publicly — polling fans in Gray’s case and changing the venue to an Arab-Jewish cooperative village in Waters’ case, as THR reported in April 2011.
Still, many more have performed in Israel, including Madonna, Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who each headlined massive shows (for Israel) at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park.
The full letter to from Walker to Keys can be viewed on the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel website.