After pressure to boycott, Gil Scott-Heron says Tel Aviv concert off

Press release by the Gil Scott-Heron Boycott Israel Campaign

Fans of revolutionary poet and singer-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron welcomed his decision last night to cancel the concert he had been scheduled to play in Tel Aviv this May. Heron announced the decision during his set at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the opening date of his world tour.

Activists from the Gil Scott Heron Boycott Israel Campaign had picketed the event earlier in the day, attracting considerable public interest and support. Ten activists from the Campaign then continued their protest inside the concert, raising the issue of Israeli apartheid right at the start of Heron’s set and after the first song.

The activists were great admirers of the artist who were shocked by Heron’s decision to play Israel, and said that they protested “reluctantly” given his longstanding commitment to equality and civil rights in both the USA and South Africa.

Upon hearing of the proposed gig in Tel Aviv, South Africans in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” at the decision.

Heron waited until just before his last song to announce the decision to the audience. His tone was unapologetic and he did not definitively tie the decision to any rationale, simply stating that the tour would “end in Athens, not Tel Aviv” and that he would only play in Israel “when everyone is welcome there”. The campaign is now awaiting confirmation from Gil Scott Heron’s management that the concert has indeed been canceled.

Emory Douglas, renowned Black Panther Party artist and activist, commented: “My choice to join the voices opposed to your going [to Tel Aviv] wasn’t personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.”

For more information on the campaign, please contact: sukant.chandan@gmail.com

Notes to Editors

• Sukant Chandan is coordinating the GSH Boycott Israel Campaign

• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign started in response to GSH’s proposed gig in Israel on 25 May 2010

• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign seeks to persuade GSH to cancel this gig


Full Emory Douglas statement:

I commend you on your reversal of not going to perform in Israel, a place ruled by an apartheid government. Perhaps the courage you’ve shown by not going will now set the standard and be an inspiration for other performers to be mindful of the choices they make.

My choice to join the voices opposed to your going wasn’t personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.

- One Love, Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of The Back Panther Party

Updated at 1400 with more details of Scott-Heron’s statement to the audience last night.

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