Justin Bieber Must Support Justice and Comply with Calls to Boycott
By: Omar Mansour / Arab America Contributing Writer
Justin Bieber is being called on to respect the calls for two boycott campaigns targeting his Middle-East performances. The renowned pop star is set to perform in Tel Aviv on October 13th, 2022, immediately prompting calls for him to cancel his scheduled performance in occupied Palestine and to not condone apartheid. He is also facing growing calls to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia on December 5th, as Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi joined a chorus of voices urging him not to perform at the kingdom’s Formula One race, of which Beiber is the most headline-grabbing performance scheduled. Bieber is most certainly aware of these calls, but will he listen? With ample time to cancel his performance in occupied Palestine, he seems keen on keeping the voices that demand justice for Khashoggi waiting until the last minute with just under a week until the show remaining.
When it was announced that Justin Bieber would be performing in Tel Aviv The calls for a global name like Justin Bieber to cancel his upcoming performance in Tel Aviv, US grassroots organization Codepink started a petition requesting Bieber to refuse the blatant trespassing of human rights perpetrated by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians by canceling his show.
Calls on artists to not perform in the Israeli state are not new; they have been happening for years and are a core component of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, specifically a cultural boycott. This is not the first time that Bieber and Israel were in the headlines, with a performance back in 2011 drawing criticism. Israeli was an apartheid state in 2011, just as it is today, yet BDS is arguably has grown far more influential over the past decade, entering the mainstream of global solidarity politics with both Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organization B’T Selem formally declaring the obvious reality what Palestinians have been living with, resisting against and pointing out for decades – that Israel is an apartheid state. This growing mainstream support, coupled with Bieber no longer being a child, as he was in 2011, leave him no excuses for ignoring the boycott.
An Overdose of Irony
There is a somewhat comical irony to the scheduled performance. Right before his scheduled performance in Israel, he will do two shows in South Africa, a former apartheid state which was also subject to international boycott from cultural figures and businesses due to its illegal colonial practices. The irony, however, does not end there, as the singer’s tour is inaptly called the “Justice World Tour” – justice being a word Israel constantly stomps on.
Justice for Khasoggi
Bieber is facing growing calls to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia as the fiancee of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi joined a chorus of voices on Sunday urging him not to perform at the kingdom’s Formula One race.
In an open letter published by The Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz urged Bieber to cancel his Dec. 5th performance in the Red Sea city of Jiddah to “send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
Khashoggi’s assassination in 2018 was carried out by members of a team of 15 Saudi government agents who’d been sent to Istanbul, where Khashoggi had an appointment at the Saudi consulate for documents needed to marry Cengiz. She waited from him outside the consulate, but he never walked out and his body was never found, though its fate is truly horrifying.
The killing by agents who worked for MBS drew international gasps and cast a shadow over the Prince, whose reputation has to this day not fully recovered. The Prince has maintained he had no prior knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi. A U.S. intelligence assessment made public under President Joe Biden, however, determined the crown prince approved the operation.
Will He Listen?
Bieber is most certainly aware of these calls, but will he listen? Both of these performances would be beyond tone-deaf, rewarding horrific acts and crimes against humanity. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are desperate for good press like a big concert, or at the very least, any press that isn’t actually talking about what the regimes do. With ample time to cancel his performance in occupied Palestine, he seems keen on keeping the voices that demand justice for Khashoggi waiting until the last minute with just under a week until the show remaining.
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