A Palestinian-led movement has for years urged artists to boycott Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. Major performers including Lorde and Lana Del Ray have canceled appearances under pressure while other stars including Madonna and Bob Dylan have defied it. The movement is known as BDS for its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am said Monday that politics don’t dictate his actions, with pressure from pro-Palestinian activists unable to deter him from performing in Israel and maintaining ties to the country’s high-tech scene. Will.i.am said that personal and business ties keep him performing and investing in the country.
“I’m a musician and a tech enthusiast and people like our music,” he said, flanked by two of the group’s other members, Taboo and Apl.de.ap. “Do I turn my back on people that live here because of politics? No, that’s not the way we were built. So, you know, there’s beautiful people here as well as beautiful people in Palestine. And one day we want to go there too.”
The BDS movement says it is a nonviolent campaign against Israeli abuses against Palestinians — both Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military occupation for more than half a century. Israel says the campaign is an effort to delegitimize and even destroy the country.
Resisting the boycott calls over the years, will.i.am has deepened his ties to the country with his “core passion” — technology. His i.am+ tech firm acquired an Israeli start-up in 2016 and he has made repeated visits to the country to connect with its vibrant tech scene.
– Ella Breedlove