Stevie Wonder is calling off a concert for a group that raises money for the Israeli military.
Wonder had been scheduled to perform Dec. 6 for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which raises money for Israeli soldiers and their families.
Wonder said the United Nations recommended canceling his performance because he is an official “Messenger of Peace” for the organization. The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday over vehement US and Israeli objections as hopes for Mideast peace talks stalled.
Wonder said in a statement he was canceling with a heavy heart but that “I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere.”
Several petitions had called on Wonder to cancel the performance.
He had come under intense social media pressure to pull out of the event. An online petition calling on him to cancel his performance had garnered more than 3,600 signatures.
“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel,” the petition reads. “Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s — will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”
A second petition, launched by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, calls on Wonder to “(p)lease continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed. Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”
Wonder performed at a 1998 gala honoring Israel’s 50th anniversary.