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Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, last night sensationally announed the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv.

Gill Scott Heron

Speaking on-stage at London's Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he “hated war” and, in a lengthy monolougue, told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead.

His concert had earlier been disrupted by fans dismayed at the booking, repeatedly heckling the performer and asking him to cancel.

Security was called and audience members threatened with removal.

A Facebook page was set up to urge the legendary perfomer against going ahead with his Israel appearance.

It stated "This is a huge mistake from an enduring cultural and political hero. Let's see if we can change his mind."

Over one thousand people have joined the page.

Scott-Heron is perhaps best-known for the classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and was a leading voice in calling for the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, joining United Artist Against Apartheid in the 1980s.

His sharply political songs have provided a space for his own militant, anti-racist politics.

With Palestinian artists and musicians calling for a cultural boycott of Israel, campaigners were deeply saddened by Scott-Heron's apparent decision to play a high-profile gig there.

“Gil Scott-Heron's music has always been about fighting racism,” said protestor Sara el-Sheekh.

“But Palestinians daily face the most terrible oppression from the Israeli occupation - easily comparable to apartheid in South Africa.

Musicians and artists should not be giving this apartheid state any legitimacy.“

It's great news that this date has been cancelled. Scott-Heron was cheered and applauded when he made his announcement.”

Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight for a cultural boycott of Israel.

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#31 Guest 2010-05-31 14:59
For those of you who do not remember the South African Apartheid boycott and NOT playing Sun City SA, you should become aware. Boycotting Israeli apartheid, and it has been so clearly documented, and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the just thing to do. Music connects, tis true, but music connects with the oppressed and occumpied. You gain absolutely nothing by playing in Tel Aviv but a sense of complicity with a rogue "nation".

Just ask all the musicians and artists who in boycotted South Africa if they regret that action. I doubt you'd get one regret; to the contrary, they see it as a shining moment in their lives to speak out for justice.

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