British rapper Lowkey said he “will not be silenced on Palestine” after a pro-Israel lobby group campaigned to get his music off Spotify, a music streaming platform, for his pro-Palestine stance.
We Believe in Israel, a pro-Israel British grassroots group, said the move is part of its efforts to remove “dozens of instances of problematic material, including Lowkey’s [2010 song] Long Live Palestine - Part 2″.
“This coordinated campaign is an extension of the brutalisation of the Palestinians. Palestinians are routinely arrested by Israel for posts on social media, even children. Dareen Tatour spent almost a year in occupation jail for posting a poem to her Facebook,” Lowkey told Middle East Eye.
“The attempt to remove my music from Spotify by a group which was birthed and cultivated by BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), worked with the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and publicly identified itself as an Israel lobby group is ultimately an own goal for the apartheid state.
“Artists and musicians should never have to fear threats to their livelihood or person for the music they make. We will not be silenced on Palestine, not now, not ever.”
In an interview with The Jewish News, the director of We Believe in Israel, Luke Akehurst, said, “Spotify has a responsibility to uphold its platform rules which quite clearly state that content promoting, threatening, or inciting violence is unacceptable. Our research has identified dozens of such breaches, as we expect timely action to be taken.”
“Following the high levels of antisemitism experienced by British Jews during and after last May’s escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, it is remarkable that content directly inciting violence and hatred remains available.”
Akehurst is a regular attendee at Israeli government events aimed at developing ideas on how to ban pro-Palestine solidarity from online platforms.
In 2019, the Act.IL online troll army, run by the Israeli government, listed We Believe in Israel as one of its partners.
This was not the first time that Lowkey has been targeted by the Israeli lobby for his support of the Palestinian cause.
Earlier this month, the Cambridge Palestine Society was forced to postpone a talk by the rapper following a smear campaign by the Israeli lobby on campus.
While the talk went on a week later despite the attempts to cancel it, Lowkey’s planned appearance at a conference organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) was cancelled following a campaign from another pro-Israel group, the Union of Jewish Students, to get him removed from the panel.
British MP Andrew Percy criticised the NUS for not standing by Jewish students who are facing antisemitic attacks, saying, without naming Lowkey, that “instead of helping the students it has been inviting somebody who is engaged in antisemitic conspiracy theories - a rapper - to a conference”.
The song that the pro-Israel group is campaigning to ban features Palestinian hip-hop group DAM, British Palestinian artists Shadia Mansour, Iraqi-Canadian rapper Narcy, among others.
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