After #BDSfail with Robbie Williams, movement uses social media to pressure Lauryn Hill

The anti-Israel BDS movement has been putting pressure on singer Lauryn Hill by intimidating her with a social media campaign incorporating memes, hashtags and YouTube video clip.



It’s been a problematic month for R&B singer Lauryn Hill.

SINGER LAURYN HILL performs at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival California in 2011. BDS activists are pressuring Hill to cancel her upcoming performance in Israel, scheduled for this Thursday. – Photo: REUTERS

On Friday, the famed ex-Fugees superstar was set to perform in Lagos, Nigeria, but bowed out after travel delays forced her to cancel. Though the singer has since apologized by filming an acoustic version of her pop classic “Doo Wop (That Thing),” titled “A Message to Nigeria from Ms Lauryn Hill,” this isn’t her first cancellation misdemeanor. In 2009, festival organizers said the singer had canceled tour dates in Europe because of health reasons, while similar issues caused her to cancel a 2014 performance in New Jersey.


Snafus other than stomach bugs might prevent Hill from performing this Thursday at Rishon Lezion’s Live Park Amphitheater.

A tweet last month by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation read: “@MsLaurynHill 11,000 people asking you to boycott Israel. Please respect Palestinian call.”

In an action alert, the US Campaign said that “the presence of artists is routinely used by Israel to legitimize its policies and maintain its reputation as a normal member of the international community.” The group has continued to coax followers to join the campaign demanding that Hill boycott Israel and cancel her show.

Alongside these efforts, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) has been putting added pressure on Hill by creating a widespread social media campaign incorporating memes, hashtags and a YouTube video.

Appropriating the early-’90’s Fugees hit “Killing Me Softly,” BDS pulled out all the stops: an online petition, a #KillingMeSoftly hashtag, a meme depicting an image of Lauryn Hill with the words “Hey Lauren You’re #KillingMeSoftly,” as well as a video of pro-Palestinian activists singing their version of the hit song.

In two days, the video reached 4,328 views. While concrete hits aren’t reflected on Twitter, a simple search of the hashtag #KillingMeSoftly only raises a handful of tweets.

Armed with the lyrics, “Killing me softly with your bombs,” a letter from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel further warns Hill, “Performing in Israel today is the equivalent of performing in Sun City, South Africa during the apartheid era.”

The letter references declarations from Archbishop Esmeritus Desmond Tutu and former South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils about how “Israel has created a form of racial apartheid that is far worse than anything that existed in South Africa.”

In recent years, musicians such as Sinead O’Connor, Talib Kweli and, more recently, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore have come under pressure from pro-Palestinian organizations to boycott Israel.

In a recent statement, the Israel show’s producers have acknowledged receiving messages from Hill’s camp about her desire to cancel, but have said that despite pressure, they will continue to take every possible measure to ensure the show will go on.

As of today, there is still no statement confirming the show has been canceled. If the most recent set list from Hill’s “Rough Trade” performance in New York this past February is anything to go by, “Killing me Softly” won’t be on the bill anyway.

Ready or not, here she comes. Maybe.


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