By Richard Edmondson
A campaign has been underway of late to urge Carlos Santana to cancel a gig in Israel which he has scheduled for July 30.
People have been posting on Twitter, and activists have also visited offices in San Rafael, California which house the headquarters of the Milagro Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by Santana in 1998 with the lofty goal of providing help for marginalized children.
The activists were attempting to deliver a petition containing 25,000 signatures urging the musician not to perform in Israel. Some of the activists brought their children. That’s the kids you see in the photo above– looking through the Milagro Foundation’s front windows.
Not only were the activists refused entry, but the Milagro staff reportedly closed the blinds on the doors. A video of the petition delivery attempt has been posted on the Facebook page of Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Electronic Intifada has published a report on it as well. The headline above the EI piece asks the question, “Why is Carlos Santana refusing to honor Israel boycott call?”. The article offers no answer. But it does mention–and quite curiously–that an earlier call to cancel a performance in Israel was honored by the artist. Here is what the EI reports on that:
“The legendary guitarist canceled a performance in Tel Aviv in 2010, heeding the call from boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists around the world.”
That’s strange. So was Carlos Santana opposed to apartheid in 2010? And did he undergo a change of heart at some point in the six years that have elapsed since? And now, consequently, he simply doesn’t think there’s so much wrong with apartheid anymore, at least not enough to get one’s feathers ruffled? Is that the explanation?
That’s not an easy question to answer, but it does appear very much as if the Electronic Intifada has at least one thing right–and that Santana indeed is “refusing to honor” the Israel boycott call. If you go to the Milagro Foundation website you can read the following:
Carlos Santana is a citizen of the World and he plays his music and spreads his message of Love, Light & Peace wherever he goes. Carlos believes the World should have no borders so he is not detoured or discouraged to play anywhere on this planet. He and the band are looking forward to performing in Israel this summer.
So it’s all about spreading a message of love, light, and peace, at least if we are to believe the statement on the Milagro website. But of course due to the system of apartheid, including its checkpoints, Jews-only roads, and the like, not many Palestinians are likely to be able even to attend the concert or to hear this love-peace-and-light message. This is something which is made clear in the video below:
Perhaps rather than spreading messages of love, light and peace, is it possible Santana’s real reason for going to Israel this summer is his fear of Jewish outrage? There’s quite a lot of this type of outrage spreading around these days. In the following video you can see members of the Israeli Knesset going practically berserk over a comment made by Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi.
During a Knesset discussion on the recent agreement with Turkey–under which Israel will, finally, compensate families of the Mavi Marmara victims–Zoabi referred to the Israeli soldiers who boarded the humanitarian vessel back in 2010 as murderers. Zoabi likely would have been in a position to know: she was on board the Mavi Marmara at the time.
Here is how Jonathan Cook reports the Knesset fracas which ensued:
A dozen or more Jewish MPs rush to the podium and start circling Zoabi like a pack of baying hyenas. By this stage, when Zoabi is being physically threatened by a number of MPs in the parliament chamber, you might think it would be time for some of them to be forcefully ejected, if only to indicate that this subversion of the democratic process will not be tolerated. But not a bit of it. They are treated with kid gloves.
The Knesset guards simply try to block the violent Jewish MPs from reaching the single Palestinian MP in their sights, presumably fearful that were she to be physically assaulted that might make headline news and make Israel look bad.
Paradoxically, the only MP you can see on the film being pushed out of the Knesset chamber is Zoabi’s party leader, Jamal Zahalka, who from the look of things is interceding because he’s worried she is in danger. Hazan was finally removed, though after more than eight minutes of heckling, threats and belligerence.
Another paradox: Zoabi and her fellow party MPs have only recently been allowed to speak in the Knesset again, after the ethics committee (dominated by Jewish MPs) suspended them for several months because of their “unacceptable” political views.
Jewish outrage has also once again enveloped British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour Party, of course, has been obliged to launch an official inquiry into “anti-Semitism” within its ranks, and on Thursday, just as the findings of that inquiry were being announced, a Jewish Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, got up and angrily stalked out. The walkout was prompted by a remark voiced by a Corbyn supporter, who apparently implied that Jews control the media.
“Anti-Semitism at the launch of an anti-Semitism report,” remarks the man at 28 seconds in. Following that you see Smeeth get up and walk out.
“This morning, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism, I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy,’” Smeeth said later.
The incident is reported in an article by the Times of Israel which describes Smeeth as having “stormed out” of the event, although the writer, Sara Miller, seems to feel the MP’s anger was quite justified.
“The accusation that Jews control the media is a long-standing anti-Semitic trope,” she informs her readers.
Hmm…where have I heard that before? Michael Eisner of Disney, Leslie Moonves of CBS, Arthur Sulzberger of the New York Times, Jeff Bezos of the Washington Post, Bruce Karsh of Tribune Media (L.A. Times, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, etc.) Jeff Zucker of CNN, Michael Lynton of Sony Pictures–perhaps it is only a “trope” to suggest that all of these people are Jewish.
But let’s be fair and “untropish”–Rupert Murdoch apparently is a Gentile.
“It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing,” Smeeth continued to fume.
“Until today I had made no public comment about Jeremy’s ability to lead our party, but the fact that he failed to intervene is final proof for me that he is unfit to lead, and that a Labour Party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews,” she added.
The outrage of Jews in the UK has already resulted in the suspensions of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and MP Naz Shah, and now it looks like another campaign is building for Corbyn’s ouster. As Miller reports in her Times of Israel piece, there is a “growing list of Labour parliamentarians who have urged Corbyn to step down in recent days.”
If this is the sort of Jewish outrage Santana is concerned about igniting, one can well understand his reluctance to cancel his date in Tel Aviv.
“The only response to BDS is that it is anti-Semitic. I know this because I’ve been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite for the past 10 years,” Roger Waters told The Independent in an interview earlier this year. When asked why more artists don’t participate in the BDS movement, Waters’ answer was: “They’re scared shitless.”
It was Santana’s performance at Woodstock that launched him to fame and fortune. That was in 1969. I was 16 years old at the time. Most of us who didn’t make it to Woodstock got our first chance to see Santana when the movie came out a year or so later.
None of us back then could have imagined that the young man playing such impressive guitar licks on that stage would eventually one day cross an international picket line to do a show in an apartheid state. But then Jewish power has grown exponentially since those idyllic times–it has grown considerably even since the year 2010, when Santana previously refused to play in Israel. And it’s not clear where it’s going to stop.
Today we are seeing states taking steps to criminalize the BDS movement, and as I reported in a post a couple of days ago, even the Democratic Party is considering incorporating official opposition to BDS in its party platform this year.
So in answer to the Electronic Intifada’s question–“Why is Carlos Santana refusing to honor Israel boycott call?”–one might offer the opinion that perchance it has something to do with a certain wish to avoid being surrounded by a “pack of baying hyenas” as Cook so quaintly puts it.
Or it is simply a matter of Carlos wishing to spread his messages of “love, light, and peace”?
You can take your pick.