BDS-Backers ‘Happy’ To Grab Credit as Pharrell Williams Scraps Israel Gig

Critics of Israel have claimed credit for the cancellation of a planned Tel Aviv concert by ‘Happy’ singer Pharrell Williams — but others blamed anemic ticket sales.

The left-leaning Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel applauded the Grammy-winner’s decision to cancel the gig set for next week.

JVP also suggested that the move may have come after “calls for solidarity w/ Palestine.”

Williams’ representatives said the cancellation of the July 21 gig was due to unanticipated scheduling problems, Haaretz reported, while industry sources blamed slow ticket sales.

Williams has come under fire from pro-Palestine solidarity activists before. In 2014, South African BDS-backers protested at a concert, objecting to the singer’s partnership with major South African retail group Woolworths which imports from Israel.

Last year, amidst rumors a tour was in the works, other BDS campaigners urged Williams not to go to Israel.

Then, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel wrotethat by performing in Tel Aviv, Williams would show himself “indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian children.”

The cancellation comes as Carlos Santana is also being urged by activists to not “entertain apartheid” by performing at Israeli venues.

Embed this video

Email Sam Kestenbaum at or follow him on Twitter, @skestenbaum


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

BDS-Backers ‘Happy’ To Grab Credit as Pharrell Williams Scraps Israel Gig

Thank you!

This article has been sent!