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December 5, 2012 7:30 pm

Dear Stevie – An Open Letter to Stevie Wonder

avatar by Rolene Marks

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President Barack Obama presents Stevie Wonder with the Gershwin Award for Lifetime Achievement in a celebration in the East Room of the White House.

Please permit me a moment of your time to express our collective dismay and disappointment at your decision to cancel your scheduled performance for an IDF (Israel Defense Force) fundraiser. I understand it was with a “heavy heart” that you cancelled and that it was recommended by the UN because you are “a messenger of peace”.

Herein lies my confusion. You have been the voice of a generation, you once sang with so much conviction That’s What Friends Are For and that Ebony and Ivory could live together in perfect harmony. You campaigned vociferously to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday in the US. He was one of the greatest supporters of Zionism and the rights of the Jewish people to call Israel home.

You were a champion of the civil rights movement and used your voice effectively to help end the heinous system of Apartheid in South Africa, my country of origin. You proved with Ghandi-esque effect how peaceful protest could bring about great changes and you have proclaimed time and again that you are “against war, any war”.

Well Mr Wonder, we here in Israel are also against war. The fundraiser which you have pulled out of follows a month where once again, Israeli citizens faced a barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza based terrorists. This time, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were not spared. Hamas showed us their intentions without compunction for the civilians under threat. And once again the visuals of buses blown up permeated our psyche. The hideous twist of metal post explosion is all too familiar.

Mr Wonder, we could do with a messenger of peace. Sadly you have fallen prey to the anti-Israel lobby who disguise their hatred with concern for human rights. Odious accusations of Apartheid are not only libelous and fiction but greatly insult and diminish the suffering of the real victims of Apartheid. The anti-Israel lobby bully and intimidate with their petitions and accusations but fall silent on Palestinian incitement against Jews. No Mr Wonder, you may not hear “I just called to say I love you” on Palestinian radio or see the video for “My Cherie Amour” on Palestinian television, instead your fans in Gaza may be treated to songs about how much they would love to slaughter the Jews or become a martyr for Jihad. Hardly Billboard 100 material!

Mr Wonder, I would implore you, as a messenger of ambassador of peace, the next time (should there be one) you are invited to perform at a Pro-Israel fundraiser, please remember that peace is not a solo effort but rather an ensemble that requires dialogue from both sides. Please use your considerable voice and celebrity to advocate for positive change.

Consider this Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

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