The ANC has reiterated a call for a cultural boycott of Israel, in the wake of the fallout over South African DJ Black Coffee’s performance in Israel at the weekend. The international DJ has been accused of being insensitive and irresponsible for performing in Tel Aviv, just hours before Israeli snipers shot and killed 16 unarmed Palestinians protesting in the Right of Return march in Gaza.
Black Coffee was trending at number one on Twitter as social media users slammed the DJ’s Friday night performance in Israel. Following a flood of comments on Twitter, Black Coffee was quick to hit back at his critics, saying he is not a political party.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa slammed Black Coffee, accusing him of violating the cultural boycott for the second time.
“DJ Black Coffee knew exactly what he was doing when he (again) violated the boycott of Israel. His claim of ignorance is hard to take seriously. We unfortunately suspect that his performance in Israel was no mistake and is a sign of his bias toward an apartheid regime. Its up to DJ Black Coffee to now condemn Israeli Apartheid, its illegal occupation, racism against Africans, its imprisonment of children and its killing of Palestinian youth. Its his choice to be on the right side of history,” said BDS spokesperson Kwara Kekana.
Even more ironic is DJ Black Coffee’s performance in a country that is increasingly anti-African, with Israel’s Minister of Culture having in recent years compared Africans to a “cancer”.
Most onliners have criticised Black Coffee’s flimsy reasons, saying his decision to “feed his family” is an excuse to feign ignorance of the gravity of the Palestinian situation. According to a December 2017 Business Report article, DJ Black Coffee’s net worth is an estimated R27,3 million.
“We call on DJ Black Coffee to choose morality, ethics and human rights above profit similar to the thousands of artists who boycotted Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s and contributed to our liberation,” added Kekana.
In a tweet with a link to a pro-Israel propaganda video, the Black Coffee also tried to suggest that he wanted to “learn” more about the issue. Kekana said this was “dishonest”.
“In 2014, DJ Black Coffee had also crossed the picket line and performed in Israel. BDS South Africa had tried to engage with the artist before his performance by privately writing him a letterIn addition, a group of progressive Jewish Israelis had written to him explaining the issue and urging him not to perform in Israel. He ignored and chose not to engage with either group.”
At its 54th National Conference, the ANC resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israeli to a liaison office.
“The position of the ANC has always been that of supporting the cause for the total emancipation of the Palestinian people, in the context of a Two-State solution. We have been witnessing unacceptable violations of children’s rights, human rights and international law by the Israeli government. Further, we have been witnessing increased Israeli racism against Africans,” said Minister Lindiwe Zulu, chairperson of the ANC’s International Relations Committee in a statement.
The party said the cultural aspect of the boycott is critical in advancing the Palestinian cause “to ensure that we isolate what is clearly an apartheid government of Israel”. The ANC said it was “deeply concerned” by news of Black Coffee’s recent visit to Israel and hoped to engage with him on the issue.
“In solidarity with the people of Palestine, we will continue highlighting shortcomings wherever they rear their head with regard to the role of South Africans in undermining the cause of the emancipation of the people of Palestine. We await an opportunity to engage Black Coffee and the creative sector at large, with a view to finding each other on this and other matters, as a way of creating common cause between all South Africans in rallying behind Palestine,” said Sisulu.
The ANC has called on all South African artists to have an appreciation of the role played by the international anti-apartheid solidarity movement in the successful international isolation of apartheid South Africa.
“The people of Palestine are in a just cause for self-determination and we urge our artists not to form part of the normalization of Israeli’s suppression of the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination and statehood that mirrors our very own struggle. The South African artistic community, having themselves experienced discrimination and oppression, must therefore continue to pledge solidarity with others who are oppressed.” VOC