Israel-Linked Group Attempts to Censor Pro-Palestinian Artists on Spotify

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

“We Believe in Israel,” an offshoot of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM) in the UK, is trying to censor Palestinian and pro-Palestinian artists on the popular music-streaming service, Spotify. In an article published by MintPress News, senior staff writer Alan MacLeod revealed that the group is lobbying both Spotify and the UK government.

We Believe in Israel launched a campaign earlier in 2023 for Spotify to remove several Arabic songs that allegedly targeted Israel. The campaign was the first step in a larger plan.  Luke Akehurst, director of We Believe in Israel, has cited Spotify’s ability respond to complaints of  “public disgust,” and has called on Spotify to do the same regarding Palestinian and pro-Palestinian voices hosted on the service. We Believe in Israel has also been accused of acting to remove one of pop artist Mohammad Assaf’s songs in part of its ongoing attempt to ‘cleanse’ the platform. The group complains that Spotify is promoting violence by allowing these artists to post their music using the service.

A particular target of We Believe in Israel’s Spotify campaign is artist Lowkey, a popular artist whose songs have become informal anthems of the pro-Palestine movement. We Believe in Israel’ contends Lowkey’s music is offensive and incites violence against Jewish and Israeli people. Universal pushback caused the campaign to ban Lowkey’s music to fail. Thousands of people signed a counter-petition “demanding Spotify not buckle to the Israel lobby’s pressure,” MacLeod reported. The petition included “dozens of the most prominent Jewish individuals in the creative industries,” his report noted.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a group with links to the pro-Israel lobby, has been allotted two seats on Spotify’s Safety Advisory Council; one of the Institute’s co-founders, the late George Weidenfeld, had ties to an organization that built illegal Israeli settlements. The Institute is funded by several NATO countries and a CIA front organization (the National Endowment for Democracy) historically devoted to performing illegal activities. This group has been considered extremist itself, though it states its devotion to counter-extremism. The Secretary of State of the UK Department of Digital Culture, Media, and Sport has been identified as supportive of We Believe in Israel.

Israel’s reputation has been under scrutiny around the world, and pro-Israel figures—including Ayelet Shaked, former Israeli justice minister, and Emi Palmor, former Director General of the Ministry of Justice—have been working to censor any voices that criticize Israel. Shaked claimed Facebook removed 95 percent of what she asked it to censor; Palmor is a content moderator on Facebook’s advisory council. As a result, Palestinians’ social media and financial accounts have been blocked.

As of August 2023, there appears to have been no corporate media coverage regarding the censorship of Palestinian artists on Spotify.

Source: Alan MacLeod, “Shadowy, Israel-Linked Group Attempts to Censor Pro-Palestinian Spotify Artists,” MintPress News, June 12, 2023.

Student Researcher: Ashton Sidford (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)