TEL AVIV – Grammy-award winning musician Pharrell Williams cancelled his July 21 debut performance in Israel amid some speculation that the singer may have succumbed to pressure from the boycott Israel movement.
The show’s local promoters released a statement with the “Happy” singer’s apologies, saying that he was forced to withdraw from the Rishon Lezion gig due to “scheduling conflicts.”
However, pro-Palestinian site Electronic Intifada surmised that the 11-time Grammy award winner may have heeded what they called “sustained pressure” by proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to cancel the concert.
In an open letter, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said that by performing in Tel Aviv, Williams would show himself “indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian children,” the report said.
“Williams has been publicly unresponsive to appeals for him to use his platform to support – or at least not be complicit in the violation of – Palestinian human rights,” the media outlet said.
It noted that fans are urging other musicians – including Carlos Santana – not to “entertain apartheid” by performing in Israel. Santana, for his part, snubbed pressure from the boycott movement, saying he “preferred to do something productive with my energy.”
Electronic Intifada also cited BDS South Africa’s efforts to malign Williams because of his endorsement of Woolworths, a retail chain that sells Israeli goods.
Haaretz cited low ticket sales as the reason Williams cancelled, despite heavy promotion. Posters advertising the concert appeared on huge billboards and at bus stops all over Tel Aviv in recent weeks.