JERUSALEM (AP) – The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am website said on Monday that politics does not dictate his actions as pressure from pro-Palestinian activists cannot prevent him from speaking in Israel and maintaining ties with the country’s high-tech companies. scene.
The Palestinian-led movement has for years called on artists to boycott Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. Major performers including Lorde and Lana Del Rey canceled performances under pressure, while other stars including Madonna and Bob Dylan challenged it. The movement is known as the BDS because of its calls for a boycott, asset stripping and sanctions against Israel.
The Grammy-winning group performed in Jerusalem on Monday. Speaking to the Associated Press ahead of a concert on the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, will.i.am said his personal and business ties allow him to perform and invest in the country.
“I’m a musician and tech enthusiast and people love our music,” he said, accompanied by two other band members, Taboo and Apl.de.ap. “Do I turn my back on the people who live here because of politics? No, we are not made that way. So, you know, there are beautiful people here as well as beautiful people in Palestine. And one day we also want to get there. “
The BDS movement claims it is a non-violent campaign against Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinians – both Arab Israeli citizens and Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation for more than half a century. Israel says the campaign is an attempt to de-legitimize and even destroy the country.
In a statement on the BDS France website, the concert was “even more scandalous” because it took place on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He urged his supporters to use the hashtag #WhereIsTheLoveforPalestinians – a nod to the band’s hit “Where is The Love” – to urge the group to cancel the show.
Will.i.am pointed to his many personal ties to Israelis as the reason he could not boycott the country. He said that his first girlfriend was Israeli and that the band got together in the early days in Los Angeles to compose music in an Israeli friend’s bedroom and would enjoy Saturday dinner at his home.
One of the band’s biggest hits, “I Gotta Feeling”, is infused with Hebrew, and the Black Eyed Peas recently wrote a song with Israeli pop duo Static and Ben El.
Over the years, resisting calls for a boycott, will.i.am has strengthened its ties with the country through its “core passion” – technology. His tech firm i.am + acquired an Israeli startup in 2016, and he has visited the country on numerous occasions to experience its vibrant tech scene.
Will.i.am was in Israel to attend an innovation conference organized by Improvate, an Israeli organization that works to advance Israeli technology.
In recent years, the musician-turned-innovator has created a series of wearable devices, including smartwatches and headphones, that have yet to be widely adopted. But he said he measured his success not by sales, but rather by how much he learns from his experience.
“I’m lucky that I can, you know, walk up to the bat, you know, and get up after the stumble, get up with the same enthusiasm and try to solve a different problem,” he said.
With the pandemic in mind and no end in sight, will.i.am has developed a smart face mask that combines a level of protection against coronavirus drops with Bluetooth, noise canceling sound and LED lighting. The paid mask retails for $ 299.
About 8,000 people were expected to attend a concert in Jerusalem, which was held as part of the country’s Green Pass, which requires attendees to be fully vaccinated with booster vaccinations or test negative for COVID-19.
This is because Israel is again imposing restrictions in light of the omicron option, closing air travel to foreign visitors, and introducing quarantines for Israelis returning from overseas, even those who have been vaccinated. The country was one of the first to close the border in the face of a new option.
Israelis are expected to attend performances and shows during the current week-long Hanukkah, which is why Israel is allowing live performances.
Will.i.am, Taboo and Apl.de.ap said their trip to Israel during the pandemic, where vaccinated travelers have to be tested before leaving and on arrival, makes them more comfortable than traveling to other countries. The country was one of the first to start booster vaccinations, and more than 43% of Israelis received three doses of the vaccine.
But, according to the group, the performance in the new version is fraught with certain risks.
“Is that wise? No, he said. “Let’s hope everyone in the room is soaked with the vaccine and wearing masks, and thank God we are in Israel where many people are triple-vaccinated.”
Like other artists, the group had to adapt when the pandemic broke out. They ran virtual shows during the early lockdowns and collaborated online when face-to-face meetings were unsafe.
Live performances under the shadow of the new version raise new questions. Will.i.am said the group is thinking twice about how to anger the crowd and whether it is safe for them to sing along given the potential for infection to spread.
“Usually when we sing songs, we tell the crowd to sing the words. It is safe? ” he said. “You should think about it.”
Despite the pandemic’s problems – people close to him have died after contracting the virus – will.i.am feels that everything will work out.
“Humanity, we have overcome a lot. We have defeated the plague. We have overcome so many things. You must believe in humanity. You must believe in our steadfastness. “