Singer John Legend slams Israel for mistreating Palestinians: ‘I had to say something’

Singer John Legend slams Israel for mistreating Palestinians: ‘I had to say something’
Singer John Legend told a TV journalist that the US must hold Israel to a 'higher standard' when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians.
2 min read
21 September, 2021
John Legend, pictured with wife Chrissy Teigen, spoke out in support of Palestine during the bombings on Gaza in May [source: Getty]

Singer John Legend has spoken out in support of the Palestinian people, saying in an interview on Monday that the US must hold Israel to a "higher standard" when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians under its occupation.  

In a TV interview with Mehdi Hasan for MSNBC, Legend said he "had to say something" about the plight of Palestinians because "it's not fair".  

Israeli authorities have displaced, confined, separated, and subjugated Palestinians because of their identity, resulting in what Human Rights Watch has described as "crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution".  

"We should hold [Israel] to a higher standard. What they're doing with the Palestinian people is not fair and it shouldn’t be done in our name, with [US] resources contributing," said the Grammy Award-winning singer.  

In 2020, the US gave $3.8 billion (around £2.7 billion) in aid to Israel, mostly for its military.

In late August, US President Joe Biden met with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett for their first face-to-face meeting. The US president said he wanted to build a "strong personal relationship" with the Israeli leader, adding that the two countries had "an unshakable partnership".  

"When I see what's happening in Palestine... where they are clearly not being able to experience the full rights that they deserve, it's an extremely unfair and difficult life," said Legend.   

The singer, who is of African American, European, and Native American heritage, explained that his views on Palestine come from reading the works of civil rights icon Martin Luther King and American writer and activist James Baldwin.  

They "taught me what justice meant, what love meant... what equality meant", he added. 

In May 2021, when Gaza was bombed by Israeli forces resulting in the death of around 256 Palestinians, Legend also spoke out in support of Palestinians. 

He tweeted "Palestine Lives Matter", quoting a long thread about how the rights of Palestinians should not be ignored and at the moment they were treated as "third-class citizens".  

Other celebrities who have vocal in their support for Palestine including Palestinian-American models Bella and Gigi Hadid, and singer Dua Lipa.