Stevie Wonder pulls out of concert for Israeli soldiers

(December 03, 2012)

Singer cites situation in Middle East and antiwar stance as he withdraws from Friends of the Israel Defence Forces benefit gig

Stevie Wonder will not perform at Friends of the Israel Defence Forces' gala benefit. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Stevie Wonder has decided not to perform at a concert raising money for Israeli soldiers and their families. The singer has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Friends of the Israel Defence Forces' gala benefit in Los Angeles.

"Given the current and very delicate situation in the Middle East, and with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the FIDF gala," Wonder said. "I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere."

Wonder was to headline the 6 December event, which will also see a performance by songwriter and music mogul David Foster. Tickets to the show start at $1,000 (£624). Friends of the Israel Defence Forces is a US-based charity that seeks to "provide for the wellbeing" of Israeli soldiers and "the families of fallen soldiers". "Their job is to look after Israel," reads the organisation's slogan. "Ours is to look after them."

Wonder revealed that a contact from the United Nations had recommended he pull out of this week's gig; the 62-year-old was named a UN "messenger of peace" in 2009. But activists at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation told Reuters that Wonder's move was a response to the "growing outcry" from pro-Palestinian protest groups, as well as three international petitions. The most successful of these petitions, started by an Italian fan, garnered almost 5,000 electronic signatures.

In light of his decision, Wonder announced he would be making donations to charities that support Israeli and Palestinian children with disabilities.

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