Pharrell Williams has been criticised by Palestinians and others for performing at a recent gala in benefit of Israeli Defence Forces.
The NERD member was among the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia, Fran Drescher, Ziggy Marley, David Foster, Katharine McPhee, David Draiman and many more famous names to appear at the Friends Of The Israeli Defence Forces Western Region Gala – which raised over $60million – earlier this month at the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Williams, who recently sent a cease and desist letter to President Trump in protest of him using his track ‘Happy’ at a rally shortly after a massacre at a synagogue, performed at the event and has been criticised as a result. He also delivered a speech at the gala calling for an end to “fighting”.
The organisation say that the money will be used to “support the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)”. However, many pro-Palestine voices have spoken out to condemn support of the event.
“It is difficult to understand how actors and performers, who carry the message of life, can support an army that carries out systematic killings, which contradict the essence of life and art,” Ahmed Abu Artema, an organiser of the Great March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip, told Middle East Eye.
“To us, anyone who funds this army has blood on their hands.”
Supporters of Palestine have also taken to social media in protest, with the hashtag ‘#HollywoodFundsTerror’ against those in attendance being used.
Here's a #double_standard for u: @Pharrell sings Happy @ Friends of the IDF Gala (https://t.co/snMuEbzlz0), supporting army maintaining brutal #occupation & violating basic rights of #Palestinians , but dislikes Happy being played @ Trump rallies (https://t.co/iuiudzzQjQ).
— Fady Khoury (@FaddyKhoury) November 5, 2018
Think about Palestine Iraq and Afghanistan You people burnt the houses of those poor people like this and devastated them ?Maybe you get some lesson from this thing and you realize something ?I am sorry to burn your house but you should definitely think about Palestine
— Dr Imaan Afridi ❌ (@imaan_Afridi1) November 12, 2018
To my friend @Pharrell you performed for the IDF who murdered 252 Palestinians(49 children) this year protesting for their rights against being occupied. And you sing “Happy” to them?! What a shame ??♂️ #freepalestine ?? https://t.co/pdeZu2ApGP
— FredWreck (@Fredwreck) November 5, 2018
Dear @Pharrell, you contributed in raising $60 million to a nasty army that has killed hundreds of thousands of my people. Is this the change you want in the world? You're a partner in crime. #HollywoodFundsTerror pic.twitter.com/SToDRFUST6
— Nisreen. (@NisreenAlKhatib) November 7, 2018
During the performance, Williams gave a passionate speech about the recent Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead. He argued that “there shouldn’t be any fighting” in the Middle East or among religions – calling for an end to violence of “brothers against brothers”.
“If I’m going to be here singing for you guys tonight, I have to say what I have to say,” he said, reports The Voluntourist. “What happened at that synagogue was incredibly cruel and it’s wrong.”
He continued: “Generations after generations are tested, but you guys show incredible resilience and I wish that for all people, not just your people, but all people. We all deserve that. That’s not a political thing, that’s what humanity deserves. We deserve to pay attention to the human condition.
“I don’t know how popular this is, but there just shouldn’t be fighting. Abraham was the father of many nations, not just one. There should not be brother against brother. I just want to say that.”
Ziggy Marley has also been criticised for his involvement, but recently said that the message of his album ‘Rebellion’ was to “look beyond politics of division and focus on common humanity”.
“What I am trying to get across is that as a humanity, we want to live in peace and love no matter what religion you are,” he told The National. “But we have to go and make the world and leaders know that. Only the willing will achieve their dreams.”
The FIDF added: “Funds raised at the gala will provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in-need, support for Lone Soldiers throughout their service and upon release, crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.
“The evening presented a rare and exclusive opportunity to pay tribute to the state of Israel and its brave men and women in uniform.”
NME has contacted a spokesperson for Pharrell Williams for further response.