In July 2014, as Israeli bombs rained down on Gaza, BDS activists waged an aggressive education campaign with American rapper Talib Kweli who was scheduled to perform at an Israeli musical festival in August along with other prominent rappers. Kweli honored BDS & canceled his participation though at the time he did not seem well informed about the Palestinian struggle. He is however a political thinker very much involved in the struggle against police violence in the Black community.
He became well-informed about the Palestinian struggle & by 2017 was debating BDS on social media with Remedy, a Jewish Zionist rapper also from NYC. This month, he was asked to renounce BDS in order to perform at the Open Source Festival in Düsseldorf & when he refused his tour of Germany was canceled. Since May 2019, an official statement passed by the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, declares BDS to be anti-Semitic. In response to being disinvited from the festival, Kweli said: “…what they’re saying is support for BDS is hate speech. Well, how? Show me on the BDS platform where there’s hate speech. You can’t, it’s not there, so let’s move to the next point. Are you saying that support for BDS is hate speech because you say that BDS supports Palestinian organizations that have committed terrorism? No, you can’t say that, either.”
In an interview, Kweli compared the pedagogical but aggressive treatment he received from BDS activists in 2014 to those he received from Zionists when he canceled the Israeli performance. He said, “The worst trolling I ever got in my life was when I canceled that Israel show. The Zionist trolls came at me….the pushback from the BDS & the supporters of Palestine that I got was…fierce. People were frustrated with me, people were upset with me, but for the most part, that community was respectful in their critique of me. It wasn’t any, “You’re a n*****, you’re a coon, you’re a monkey.” But when I canceled the Israel show in solidarity with BDS, I got called n*****, & monkey, & all types of sh*t from these Zionist trolls, & it immediately made me feel like I’d made the right decision.”
(Photo of Talib Kweli)