Palestinian Festival Disallows Hit Disco Song Discussing Jewish Homeland
July 29, 2010



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to the recent demand of the Palestinian International Festival that the well-known disco group Boney M, invited by the Festival to give a concert in Ramallah, not perform one of its signature hit songs, ‘Rivers of Babylon.’ Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has sought to deny and erase all Jewish connection with the land of Israel, including even Jerusalem – thus the demand that the disco group not perform ‘Rivers of Babylon,’ the lyrics of which come straight from the famous passage in the Book of Psalms, describing the longing of exiled Jews to return to their biblical homeland, Zion. (The song’s opening line is, ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion’).


Boney M lead singer Maizie Williams said Palestinian concert organizers told her she dare not sing ‘Rivers of Babylon,’ because it was deemed “inappropriate.” Ms Williams said that “we were a bit disappointed that we could not do it because we know that everybody loves this song no matter what” (‘Disco legends Boney M asked not to play their hit Rivers Of Babylon … at a Palestinian pop concert,’ Daily Mail [London], July 24, 2010).


Palestinians have been preoccupied in recent years in promoting efforts to have Israel internationally ostracized in every type of arena, including that of popular entertainment, seeking to have international artists boycott Israel. In recent months, the Pixies and Elvis Costello, among others, have canceled concerts in Israel, following pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. Other artists, like Sir Paul McCartney and Elton John, have ignored calls to boycott and have proceeded to perform in Israel.


Examples of Palestinian de-legitimization of Israel, denial of Jewish rights and connection to Israel and falsification of Jewish history:


·        Adnan Husseini, advisor to PA president Mamhoud Abbas: Stated that Palestinian demands for Israel to cede eastern Jerusalem under any peace accord also includes the Western Wall. ‘“This is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control,” Husseini told Israel’s NRG Web site, adding that all of Jerusalem’s Old City should be part of a future Palestinian state’ (‘Abbas aide: Western Wall is ours,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 11, 2007).


·        PA official website: stated about the Western Wall that “Some Orthodox religious Jews consider it as a holy place for them, and claim that the wall is part of their temple which all historic studies and archeological excavations have failed to find any proof for such a claim” (Official PA website, 2001, once available at


·        PA’s Voice of Palestine radio: Demanded that Israeli politicians not be allowed even to touch the Western Wall. (Voice of Palestine, February 23, 2001).


·        PA Mufti of Jerusalem Ikrima Sabri: The Western Wall as “just a fence belonging to the Muslim holy site … There is not a single stone in the Wailing-Wall relating to Jewish history … [responding to an Israeli interviewer] I heard that your Temple was in Nablus or perhaps Bethlehem” (Makor Rishon, May 22, 1998; Die Welt, January 17, 2001).


  • Jarid al-Kidwa, a Palestinian ‘historian’ in a broadcast in the PA media: “The stories of the Torah and the Bible did not take place in the Land of Israel – they occurred in the Arabian peninsula, primarily in Yemen” (Haaretz, July 6, 1997).


·        Sheikh Muhammad Husayn, Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque: “This is a place for Muslims, only Muslims. There is no temple here, only Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock” (New York Times, October 27, 1996).



  • PA president Yasser Arafat: “That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine” (Maariv, October 11, 1996).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This little-reported episode sheds additional and important light on an important issue: Palestinian denial of Jewish rights in and connection to the land of Israel. The Palestinian eliminationist ideology demands that the truth of Jewish history be utterly erased from the biblical land of Israel, in order to further demonize Israel as illegal interlopers. That is why the Palestinian International Festival was so anxious that Boney M not perform ‘Rivers of Babylon,’ despite the enormous world-wide popularity of the song.


“The Palestinian Authority seeks to obliterate every indication or affirmation of the Jewish people’s connection and right to its own biblical homeland, knowing that Jewish history validates the rights of the Jews to their own country in the eyes of much of the world and perhaps even in the eyes of many Palestinians.


“Thus, while speaking to Western audiences, Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayyad might rarely – and only rarely – go through the motions of claiming to acknowledge the rights of Jews to live in Israel within the pre-1967 borders or in a future Palestinian state – they have pointedly refused ever to accept Israel as a Jewish state and daily tell their people that Jews are usurpers. This message is relentlessly reiterated in the PA, media, mosques, schools and youth camps. It is a major factor in continuing Palestinian non-acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state and thus in the absence of peace.


“It is unlikely that the Arab and Muslim worlds will accept Israel’s right to exist as Jewish state for many years, perhaps generations, perhaps ever. But if and when change comes, it will at least in large part start with Palestinians genuinely accept Israel’s legitimacy and ceasing to take refuge in a falsified, counterfeit history that eliminates the Jewish people from the picture. That is why it is vital that the U.S. and Israel both insist on an end to this Palestinian propaganda of denial and falsification and make further aid and negotiations to the PA conditional on its termination. To do otherwise is to ensure the prolongation of the Arab war on Israel.”


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