American rapper Talib Kweli, who recently made headlines after being uninvited from Germany’s Open Source music festival after it become known that he supported the BDS movement, has opened up about the amount of abuse he has received online for his political views.
BDS, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, is a pro-Palestine campaign that calls for various forms of boycotting Israel until Palestinian human rights, dignity, and the right to return are restored. Kweli, after doing his own research, came to the conclusion that he felt obligated to support BDS and Palestinian human rights, however this decision has come with a price.
Speaking during an interview with Uproxx, Kweli explained:
I took great pains in that backlash to make it clear that I’m not antisemitic and that I have no problem with Judaism or Jewish culture or Jewish people. I am highly critical of the government of Israel.”
Cancelling his show in Israel and being disinvited from a music festival in Germany because of his pro-BDS stance has brought on an unfortunate wave of racist and derogatory attacks, and the backlash that Kweli received online from what he called “Zionist trolls” was immense, with not only name-calling but an active push to discredit him as an artist as well.
When I canceled the Israel show in solidarity with BDS, I got called n*****, and monkey, and all types of sh*t from these Zionist trolls, and it immediately made me feel like I’d made the right decision.”
Although claiming that he is used to being silenced as a Black man in America, Kweli explains that it may just be a blessing in disguise, in which by highlighting what movements he supports more attention may in fact be given to campaigns like BDS.
As a Black man, people have tried to silence me my entire life. When I get disinvited for something like that, I smirk, I smile, because I don’t expect the establishment to understand me all the time. When that happens I’m like, ‘Okay, well whatever, now I’m going to make an example out of you.’ I get excited about that. Yeah, disinvite me, it just gives me a reason to discuss these matters.”
Although attacked horribly online, Kweli continues to be an inspiration for both other artists as well as for fans around the world, and by being an example of bravery by standing up to governments like Israel that continue to break international human rights, Kweli may well be the creative leader we need to get more people informed and passionate about human rights issues.