The Black Eyed Peas (courtesy) (courtesy)
Black Eyed Peas

“Do I turn my back on people that live here because of politics? No, that’s not the way we were built.”

By Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press

The Black Eyed Peas’ said that politics don’t dictate his actions, with pressure from pro-Palestinian activists unable to deter him from performing in Israel and maintaining ties to the country’s high-tech scene.

A Palestinian-led movement has for years urged artists to boycott Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Major performers including Lorde and Lana Del Ray have canceled appearances under pressure while other stars including Madonna and Bob Dylan have defied it.

The movement is known as BDS for its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. In recent months, BDS trolls have attacked actress Helen Mirren, singer Billie Eilish and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.,

The Grammy-winning group was performing in Jerusalem on Monday. Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of the concert, said that personal and business ties keep him performing and investing in the country.

“I’m a musician and a tech enthusiast and people like our music,” he said, flanked by two of the group’s other members, Taboo and “Do I turn my back on people that live here because of politics? No, that’s not the way we were built. So, you know, there’s beautiful people here as well as beautiful people in Palestine. And one day we want to go there too,” he said.

A statement on the BDS France website said the concert was “even more scandalous” because it was taking place on the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It urged supporters to use the hashtag #WhereIsTheLoveforPalestinians — a nod to the group’s hit “Where is The Love” — to call for the group to cancel its performance.

The statement was referring to the Nov. 29 anniversary of the UN partition plan. That was the day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly endorsed a recommendation to divide British Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Jewish establishment accepted the proposal but the Arab world rejected it. pointed to his many personal connections to Israelis as a reason why he couldn’t boycott the country. He said his first girlfriend was Israeli and that at the Black Eyed Peas’ beginnings in Los Angeles, the group met to make music in an Israeli friend’s bedroom and would enjoy Sabbath dinners at his home.

One of the group’s major hits, “I Gotta Feeling,” is laced with Hebrew and the Black Eyed Peas recently collaborated on a song with Israeli pop duo Static and Ben El.

Resisting the boycott calls over the years, has deepened his ties to the country with his “core passion” — technology. His tech firm acquired an Israeli start-up in 2016 and he has made repeated visits to the country to connect with its vibrant tech scene. was in Israel to take part in an innovation conference held by Improvate, an Israeli organization that works to advance Israeli technology.

In recent years, the musician-turned-innovator created a series of wearable devices, including a smartwatch and earphones, which haven’t entirely taken off. But he said he measures his success not by the amount of sales but rather by how much he learns from the experience.

Some 8,000 people were expected to attend the Jerusalem concert, which was being held under the country’s “green pass,” which requires attendees to be fully vaccinated with a booster shoot or else present a negative COVID-19 test.

It comes as Israel is once again imposing restrictions in light of the omicron variant, closing air travel to international visitors and imposing quarantine on Israelis returning from abroad, even those who are vaccinated. The country was among the first to seal its border in the face of the new variant.

With Israelis expected to attend plays and shows during the current weeklong Chanukah holiday, Israel is allowing live performances to go ahead., Taboo and said their experience traveling to Israel during the pandemic, where vaccinated travelers must be tested before departure and upon arrival, put them more at ease than visits to other countries. The country was among the first to begin administering booster shots and more than 43 percent of Israelis have received three vaccine doses.

United With Israel staff contributed to this report.

Bring Joy to Israeli Soldiers - Send Winter Care Packages!

We are honored to thank the young men and women of the IDF who risk their lives every day to defend the citizens of Israel.

Join us in sending winter care packages and personal notes of support to Israeli soldiers who are out in the cold all day.

Warm up a soldier's heart with essential winter wear including fleece jackets, hats, gloves and more. Keep an entire unit warm!


Click Here to Send Your Gift and Personal Note to Israeli Soldiers