New Book Takes on the Cultural Boycott Against Israel
“Artists Under Fire: The BDS War against Celebrities, Jews, and Israel” by Lana Melman (Lioncrest Publishing 2022).
International entertainers of every color and creed are besieged by pressure to boycott Israel as part of an antisemitic smear tactic that spans the globe. Behind it all is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, an intimidation network masquerading as a human rights movement. In “Artists Under Fire,” entertainment industry insider and activist Lana Melman puts BDS on trial, and tells the stories of celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Alicia Keys, The Rolling Stones, and more, who are used as pawns in BDS’ destructive crusade. She calls out a vocal group of artists, led by Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, who has joined the attack and created a star-studded battle between themselves and the thousands of musicians, filmmakers, and authors who refuse to be cowed.
Below is an excerpt from her book:
Outside of rap music, which is singular in its provocative and often antagonistic lyrics directed toward a wide spectrum of groups, including women and gay people as well as Jews, I rarely witnessed an outward expression of classic antisemitism in my twenty-plus years working in the entertainment business.
When Mel Gibson was arrested for drunk driving in 2006 and, according to the police report, blurted out a barrage of antisemitic remarks about the “f*****g Jews,” saying, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” members of the entertainment industry, along with the rest of the country, were shocked by his comments. Anti-Zionism, on the other hand, has been slowly rising since the start of the cultural boycott campaign in 2005.
Both classic antisemitism and anti-Zionism in the entertainment industry, however, exploded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and the summer of protests that divided our nation. There are two main reasons for this: first, Jew-hatred wanes during times of prosperity but inevitably flows during chaos and unrest; and second, fifteen years of the BDS movement describing the Jews of Israel as monsters had normalized and even legitimized this perversion.
BDS entangles the ideas of the bad Jew and the bad Israeli and provides artists — and others — with the language and ideas of classic antisemitism when it criticizes the Jewish state. When BDS proponents or others vilify Israelis, they are not referring to the Arab citizens who make up 20 percent of the population; they are talking about the Jews.
While artists such as Jon Stewart, Halsey, John Oliver, Mia Farrow, Viola Davis, and Mark Ruffalo do not (to date) explicitly call for a cultural boycott of Israel, they till the soil for the BDS campaign by demonizing Israel. I refer to these anti-Zionist artists as “Israel Bashers.” While some of them would strongly deny their thoughts or hearts are antisemitic, to me, their comments clearly are. As you will see, anti-Zionism among artists is not black and white; it comes in shades of gray.
Some Israel Bashers do not make any attempt to disguise their contempt for the Jewish homeland. Examples, in my opinion, include fashion icons Gigi and Bella Hadid, whose father is a wealthy Beverly Hills hotelier of Palestinian descent, and English singer Dua Lipa, who is dating Gigi’s and Bella’s brother Anwar Hadid. When the Hadid sisters, with their combined Instagram reach of 119 million followers (a number that dwarfs Israel’s 6.6 million Jews), disseminate disinformation about the Jewish homeland, it has a significant impact on the perception of Israel around the world.
Although some Israel Bashers believe their condemnation of Israel is unbiased criticism, it lacks balance and objectivity. There is no sign of empathy for the suffering of innocent Israelis or any criticism of Hamas’ goal to destroy the Jewish state or the militant organization’s reign of terror on both Israelis and its own people.
These artists are entitled to their opinions, but as public figures with outsized microphones, they have an obligation to get the story straight. If they spent thirty minutes reading Hamas’s charter, with its pledge to destroy Israel, or researching how it treats homosexuals and regards women and contrasted that to the rights of gay people, women, and minorities in Israel, they might be moved to treat all the players with a fair hand.
Lana Melman is the CEO of Liberate Art, a 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, and a leader in the fight against the cultural boycott of Israel. Her book about the cultural boycott campaign against Israel, “Artists Under Fire: The BDS War against Celebrities, Jews, and Israel,” is available on Amazon.com.