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Stevie Wonder drops out of Israeli Defense Force event

By Nisa Islam Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Dec 7, 2012 - 9:00:52 AM

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Stevie Wonder
Photo: MGNonline
( - Days after a social media campaign by peace activists was started to get Grammy-award winning singer and musician Stevie Wonder to cancel his scheduled headline appearance at a fundraiser for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, it was announced that the icon would not be performing for the Israeli cause.

“I believe that after hearing from many people, it pricked Mr. Wonder’s conscience and enabled him to do the right thing,” said Mauri Salaakhan, head of the Peace and Justice Foundation. “I really felt in my heart that if any appeal was made, directly or indirectly, he would change his mind. He’s a very conscious brother.”

“I was surprised that he even agreed to do it. I thought he was more aware of the Palestinian situation,” he said.

Mr. Wonder had agreed to perform Dec. 6, with an orchestra conducted by Grammy-winning producer and composer David Foster, according to Arutz Sheva Israeli Media Network. A replacement for Mr. Wonder has not been announced. Barbra Streisand performed last year.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Mr. Wonder’s representatives will claim that he did not know the nature of the group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and that he believes such a performance would be incongruent with his status as a UN “Messenger of Peace,” according to a source who has read e-mail exchanges between Mr. Wonder’s representatives and organizers of the event.

“Apparently he was misinformed and when the people reminded him about apartheid and what Desmond Tutu said that Israeli apartheid was worse than South Africa’s apartheid, that made it difficult for him to accept the invitation,” Palestinian activist Ali Baghdadi told The Final Call.

“Now that he is connected to the United Nations as a Goodwill Ambassador he has to please the majority and the majority of the people around the world stand against the state of Israel. It would have been very bad for the Blacks who have experienced oppression to see one of their own aiding apartheid. It would not be good,” he added.

When word hit the Internet that Mr. Wonder would perform for the Israeli Defense Force a petition was launched on It read: “In the face of over 60 years of Israeli colonization of Palestinian land and the disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people and in the wake of Israel’s latest violent aggression against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip—we ask you NOT to support the IDF. The IDF is an institution which promotes, enables, and protects Israel’s Apartheid regime.”

“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: Please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel. Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s—will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser?”

A second petition was started by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. It read: “In 1985, you showed the world that you opposed Apartheid in South Africa when you were arrested protesting the Apartheid regime and in your song, “It’s Wrong (Apartheid).’ Now, 27 years later, we wish to say: Apartheid is still wrong.”

“Today, the Israeli army is enforcing a system that South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described as even worse than Apartheid in South Africa. And 15 years ago this week, Nelson Mandela himself said: ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’ ”

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