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  • Santana plays at a concert in 2013.

    Santana plays at a concert in 2013. | Photo: Flickr / Xavier Badosa

Published 10 June 2016

teleSUR spoke to Garik Ruiz of the Palestinian BDS National Committee on their campaign to pressure Carlos Santana to not play in Israel.

Legendary Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana is set to play at an upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, Israel in July, despite pressure by Palestinian human rights activists urging him to cancel.

“We are working very hard to be in communication with him about the international picket line and telling him not to cross it,” Garik Ruiz, the North America Advocacy Advisor for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, told teleSUR.

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“We have had many campaigns targeting artists but Santana is the most high profile,” he said.

Santana was last scheduled to play in Israel in 2010, but he cancelled his performance after pressure by the BDS movement.

Ruiz told teleSUR of the strategies they use in their campaigns in order to get musicians to comply with the demands of the global social movement.

“Our approach is educating them and putting pressure on them to not support Israeli apartheid,” he explained. “The campaign is modeled after campaigns against the apartheid in South Africa. We focus on educating these artists to stand with Palestinians and refuse to legitimize the violence of the Israeli military.”

He said that many might believe that Palestinians, many who live under occupation, are equal and as free to attend concerts such as Santana’s, but that’s not the case.

As the BDS movement focuses on this issue, they have had many victories this year, despite lots of setback.

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“We saw an escalation in 2016 in pushback to BDS,” Ruiz said, “with Palestinians being targeted by the Israeli Cabinet, and with the passing of U.S. legislation against BDS, like in New York, where people who support it will be put on a blacklist.”

Still, Ruiz listed several successes of the movement this year, with a major cellphone network and G4S, the largest security corporation both canceling their decision to renew their contracts with Israel. Four graduate student unions in the U.S. have also passed BDS resolutions, following suit with the one UCLA adopted last year.

I have traveled throughout Central and South America and sent a month in Mexico City. Only El Salvador, in a couple of places, did not forgive my generation. I think it is "cool" to stand with Palestine.
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