Stevie Wonder pulls out of Israel fundraiser after boycott pressure

Stevie Wonder (Photo: AP)

Stevie Wonder (Photo: AP)

Stevie Wonder has bowed to political pressure and pulled out of a fundraising concert in Los Angeles in support of the Israeli Defence Forces.

The soul singer was due to perform at the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces dinner next Thursday, but his involvement with the group made him a target for supporters of a cultural boycott of Israel. A petition on the website Change.org called on him not to sing because the IDF was "an institution which promotes, enables, and protects Israel's Apartheid regime".

"We call on Stevie Wonder, as a conscientious American advocate for human rights and dignity not to support the Israeli Defense Force by performing at their gala fundraiser," wrote the petition organiser. Mr Wonder serves as a UN messenger of peace.

The director of FIDF expressed regret at Mr Wonder's decision to "cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF, an American organisation supporting the educational, cultural, and wellbeing needs of Israel's soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers.

Maj Gen Yitzhak Gershon added: "FIDF is a non-political organisation that provides much-needed humanitarian support regardless of religion, political affiliation, or military activity."

Musicians who have announced plans to perform in Israel have repeatedly been targeted by boycott campaigners, with artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Riverdance company among those to defy calls.

Last year, over the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday, 22-time Grammy award winner Wonder gave an impromptu performance at a Jewish wedding in London after discovering the celebration was taking place while he was a guest a the hotel.

Last updated: 9:37am, November 30 2012