Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Hill is receiving applause from Palestinian rights activists for her decision to cancel a planned concert near Tel Aviv. (Image: Twitter/Jewish Voice for Peace)

“Killing Me Softly” in Palestine: Lauryn Hill Cancels Israel Concert under BDS Pressure

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

In another sign that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s far-right nationalism is turning Israel into a pariah state, pop star Lauryn Hill has cancelled a planned concert outside Tel Aviv. She was subjected to a great deal of pressure from fans on social media to withdraw the appearance, some of whom, The Guardian says, instanced the song “Killing Me Softly,” which she had covered, as a description of Israeli Occupation policy toward the Palestinians.

She said at her Facebook page,

“When deciding to play the region, my intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge. I’ve wanted very much to bring our live performance to this part of the world, but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace. It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel, and seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region. May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people.”

Hill, who is legendary for her stunning Grammy Award-winning work in the 1990s, is in the midst of an attempted comeback via the concert circuit after an erratic decade that included legal troubles over taxes and song releases that failed to chart.

Her strategy of dealing with the demand for a boycott of Israel over its continued brutal occupation and Apartheid policies toward Israel, of seeing whether she could also perform in the Palestinian West Bank, is an interesting one, as a quest for even-handedness. But it proved logistically impossible, she says. So too is her framing of the cancellation as a way of avoiding tensions.

For African-American performers (and anyone with a conscience) the Apartheid dimension of the Occupation makes the appeals of the BDS fans hard to ignore.

Interestingly, Jewish Voices for Peace is the top Twitter hit at her feed, thanking her for her decision:


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·


Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·


'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo