Lauryn Hill is the latest artist to cancel a scheduled show in Israel, joining an esteemed list that includes Sinead O'Connor, Snoop Dogg and Gil Scott-Heron. Brian Eno, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are other artists who have urged the creative community to support Palestine in its ongoing battle against Israel. In 2014, the Gaza-Israel conflict last summer resulted in the deaths of almost 2,200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis, with many homes destroyed.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel wrote a letter to Hill in April 2015 asking her to cancel her performance and "boycott Israel until it complies with international law and ends its oppression of the Palestinian people".
The activists even used Hill's lyrics to illustrate exactly why they thought she shouldn't perform in Tel Aviv. "As you yourself so eloquently sing, “Black Rage is founded on blatant denial… deafening silence and social control," they wrote. "Please do not perpetuate the silence and the wall of denial that stops the world from seeing the daily realities of degradation, racial terror, land theft, ethnic cleansing that we Palestinians are struggling against."
Eventually, Hill caved under the pressure, writing on her Facebook that she'd intended to perform in both Israel and Palestine, with this dual ambition proving too much of a challenge.
In recent months, an online campaign to stop Hill playing in Israel had gathered pace. A spoof version of "Killing Me Softly" with lyrics altered in support of Palestine was uploaded to YouTube, along with a (now closed) petition asking her to cancel. Hill has now said that she is seeking a "different strategy to bring my music to ALL of her fans in the region."