Legendary songwriter, musician and singer Stevie Wonder cancelled his scheduled performance at a fundraiser to benefit the Israel Defense Forces.
Wonder, the recipient of 25 Grammy Awards and an Academy Awards, claimed that his attendance at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Regional Gala on Thursday, December 6th would be inconsistent with his status as a UN "Messenger of Peace."
The renowned performer had come under intense social media pressure to pull out of the event, with two different online petitions garnering thousands of signatures.
“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel,” one petition reads. “Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s – will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”
A second petition, launched by the “U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation”, calls on Wonder to “(p)lease continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed. Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”
FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon said the organization regrets “the fact that Stevie Wonder has decided to cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF, an American organization supporting the educational, cultural, and wellbeing needs of Israel’s soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers.”
“FIDF is a non-political organization that provides much-needed humanitarian support regardless of religion, political affiliation, or military activity,” he added.
The Gala will be attended by over 1,200 FIDF supporters and dignitaries from the U.S. and Israel who will gather to promote the wellbeing of the Israel Defense Forces and educational programs benefiting Israel’s soldiers.