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A4P threatens ill Bieber with anarchy

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People around the world have rallied in support of 28-year-old Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who bravely announced on 10 June that he is suffering from facial paralysis. However, extremist organisation Africa4Palestine (A4P) chose the moment to threaten him, saying it would “cancel” him if he didn’t cancel his upcoming performance in Tel Aviv.

“Africa4Palestine youth activists have purchased a large number of tickets, and promise to disrupt his upcoming ‘Justice World Tour’ concerts taking place in Cape Town on 28 September 2022 at the DHL Stadium and in Johannesburg on 1 October 2022 at the FNB Stadium,” it threatened. “We call on Justin to cancel his performance in Israel or face a serious backlash.”

A4P tried to get Bieber to cancel his Israel concert when it was first announced last year, but these efforts failed. Terrorist organisation Hamas also called on him to cancel, but he ignored them. Bieber is to perform in Israel on 13 October 2022. He has already cancelled some international concerts because of his illness, but at this point, his South African and Israeli events are set to go ahead. This will be his third time performing in the Jewish state. He had concerts in Tel Aviv in 2011 and later 2017, filling a venue of 50 000 people.

At the end of May, Israeli media announced that Bieber and British soccer player David Beckham would also attend the upcoming Barmitzvah of the son of businessman, Shaul Nakash, in Israel.

A4P’s latest demands were accompanied by a poster with the word “apartheid” spelled incorrectly. Its statement was supported by online trolls, coming out with ugly comments like “Don’t worry, the Palestinians’ G-d did this to Justin”; “Half of the paralysed face is a sign from G-d?”; and “He has been cancelled by almighty G-d by himself.” Bieber was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which has caused half of his face to be paralysed.

Following its statement, A4P wrote another post, sharing an image of a ticket, saying “one of the many tickets booked by activists who will #cancelBieber if he does not do the right thing and cancel his aparthied [sic] Israel concert! Activists continue to book so they can protest.”

Amidst their posts about Bieber, A4P shared two images comparing Israel to the Nazis. According to the widely-adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is antisemitic.

Meanwhile, experts say that “cancel culture” is a dangerous form of bullying. According to Felicity Harrison at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, cancel culture is “a form of McCarthyism. [It] has led to a situation in which the practice of ostracism has become punitive rather than rehabilitative. Social media has replaced the angry mob with pitchforks, using hashtags and cyberbullying instead. Cancel culture has had the effect of hardening racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes. This is a concern in all societies, and, I would argue, even more so in South Africa.”

Benji Shulman, South African Zionist Federation director of public policy, points out that “Justin Bieber, along with most people, has probably never heard of the antisemitic BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement, which is desperately trying to leverage a famous celebrity for its own hateful agenda.”

This was echoed by Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who performed at the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Festival on 10 June. When asked about BDS, Azalea stated, “BDS? What is it? Cause I don’t know much, but I’m really happy to come and see for myself. I’m excited to experience something new.” Future acts making their way to Israel this year include American band OneRepublic and comedian Nikki Glaser.

“This boycott desperation, along with many other attempts, is likely to fail,” says Shulman. “Justin Bieber will still go to Israel, as he has done in the past. The failure of BDS’ cultural boycotts is nothing new. Think of the time it attempted to prevent Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane from competing in Israel at the Miss Universe pageant, and failed spectacularly. Not only did Lalela go to Israel last year, she was placed second runner-up, making South Africa proud.

“Should Justin Bieber cancel his concert in Israel and in South Africa, it would be due to health concerns. No doubt, BDS will claim victory over Bieber’s cancellation, completely disregarding the true cause,” he says.

“The BDS’s modus operandi is to lie repeatedly and make such fallacious claims,” says Shulman. “A case-in-point is when some contestants of the Miss Universe pageant withdrew from the contest, not because of some ill-conceived bullying tactic of a boycott, but rather due to COVID-19-related concerns and restrictions. The BDS, however, was quick to claim it was their ‘persuasion’ that did it. The media were supplied with the correct facts, putting an end to the organisation’s fake news.

“Cultural events are extremely important in today’s globalised world, especially for promoting peace and engagement. BDS, with its antisemitic agenda, isn’t interested in this.”

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