Musical legend, Stevie Wonder, was set to use his bluesy tones to raise big bucks for Israel's controversial army. However - with a little help from his fans - the 62-year-old promoter of peace has realized he is no 'friend' of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) after all, according to a Jewish news agency.
A UN 'Messenger of Peace' and former South African Apartheid activist, Wonder's fans were shocked to hear that the star would be headlining the 'Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces' annual gala in Los Angeles next week. The event raises millions of dollars every year to support the IDF: an army repeatedly accused of human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories.
The event's co-host, billionaire TV and movie producer, Haim Saban, described the gala to Israeli news site 'Ynet', as: "Our opportunity to thank the soldiers who defend the state."
However, online activists were quick to point out that the IDF's most recent act of ‘defense’, Operation Pillar of Clouds, resulted in the deaths of over 100 Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
This week a petition was launched on the website 'change.org' to convince the peace-loving superstar to drop his performance from the show. Alongside the petition was a plea: “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...”
3,600 people quickly signed up and a second petition, launched by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, was started to appeal to Wonder directly: "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,” they wrote.
Now, according to reports from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Wonder is pulling out of the controversial gig.
In an embarrassing admission, the star’s representatives will reportedly say that the infamous army has somehow slipped the singer's attention, claiming that when he signed up for the show he wasn't sure exactly what he was raising money for.
A source, who claimed to have read email exchanges between Wonder's representatives and organizers of the event, told JTA that, after doing his homework on the IDF, the international star realized that the performance would fly in the face of his UN title.
Supporters of 'Friends of the IDF' have been left confused by Wonder's rumored decision. Having performed at a gala for Israel's 50th anniversary back in 1998, many believed he was a staunch supporter of the Jewish state.
But, if the reports are true, it looks like no one's more confused than Wonder himself.
What do you think of this story? Would it be wrong for Wonder to perform at the IDF fundraiser? Leave us your comments below!