Earlier this week, DJ Black Coffee, one of South Africa’s hottest dance exports, received backlash over a recent performance in Tel Aviv. Thousands of social media users slammed the star for ignoring the BDS and ANC’s calls to boycott Israel over the killings of Palestinians and its oppressive law with many calling Israel an ‘apartheid state’. The backlash was heightened after a recent violent clash between Israeli forces and Palestinians saw seven perish.
In a statement by the chairperson of international relations committee, Lindiwe Zulu, the African National Congress released a statement where the party “reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to the struggle of the Palestinian people and expressed its disappointment at the state of Israel’s lack of commitment towards a peaceful resolution.” Zulu added that “The people of Palestine are in just cause for self-determination and we urge all our artists not to form part of the normalisation of Israel’s suppression of the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination and the statehood that mirrors our very own struggle.”
— #PIECESOFME (@RealBlackCoffee) March 31, 2018
In a response, Ben Swartz, the Co Chairman of South African Friends of Israel, called out the ANC and BDS for their fascist tendencies. “The South African Friends of Israel condemn such statements, which does absolutely nothing for the Palestinian people, but rather defames and violates the rights of South Africans,” Ben says. “The BDS campaign is failing around the world with artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Paul McCartney, Ziggy Marley, Die Antwoord, Loyiso Bala, Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Jason Derulo, Jon Bon Jovi, Craig David, Steve Aoki, Nick Cave, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, OneRepublic, amongst many others, having all performed there in just the last while. Having failed to convince anyone to follow them, the ANC and BDS have all too typically tried instead to undermine their freedom of association through intimidation and abuse. They have sought to exploit these musicians for their own narrow agendas instead of encouraging them to use their music as a universal language and a tool for peace and unity.”
Ben adds that this isn’t the first time Black Coffee has visited Israel and he has seen “Israel for himself” – a reason he keeps coming back.
The backlash comes after the party recommended that the government should immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. The ANC continues to call for a cultural boycott of Israel and has reached out to Black Coffee in the hopes of engaging with him and “the creative sector at large as a way of creating common cause between all South Africans in rallying behind Palestine. The people of Palestine are in a just cause for self determination and we urge our artists not to form part of the normalisation of Israeli’s suppression of the Palestinian people in their quest for self determination and statehood that mirrors our very own struggle”.
The star took to Twitter to speak out against the backlash saying that “Like everyone else I have rights and free will and no Black Coffee is not a political party… I work as an entertainer to feed my family. To sum it up… I’ll take a bullet for my family.”
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