The Music World Goes Anti-Israel – Part I


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[Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a three-part series. Click the following to read Part II and Part III.]

In the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident, a significant number of musicians have refused to perform in Israel. Performance withdrawals are attributed to changes of heart, scheduling issues, etc., but these moves are more likely to be driven by pro-Palestinian BDS campaigners, who are targeting artists aggressively in an effort to isolate Israel.

Prior to the flotilla incident, jazz performer Gil Scott-Heron gave in to pro-Palestinian pressure in April, and in January, Carlos Santana cancelled a performance reputedly due to pressure from anti-Israeli groups. Scott-Heron had his performance in London disrupted by pro-Palestinians who heckled him throughout to force him to cancel his Israeli performance. Pro-Palestinian pressure had been building on the Internet to make him cancel the date. Security was called, but Scott-Heron gave in to their demands on the concert stage, stating that he “hated war.” Fifty-plus boycott groups sent a letter to him stating, “You have chosen to stand on the right side of history” – a rather sinister thing to say.

Santana’s Israeli performance in early June, being promoted by the seemingly ill-fated Shuki Weiss, was to take place in a large soccer stadium in Jaffa. With excellent ticket sales, the addition of another show was being mooted until Santana’s management suddenly announced that the show would be put on hold for an unspecified period of time. They cited “unforeseen scheduling conflicts” despite other dates on the tour going ahead as normal. A senior member of Weiss’ production team stated that Carlos Santana had received messages telling him “’it’s better’ not to perform in Israel.” Such communications can easily be seen as threatening. The promoter added: “Our clarifications revealed that he received messages from anti-Israel figures who pressured him to cancel the performance. Of course, no one there claimed that any connection between these pressures and the show’s cancellation, but we are certain there is a very close connection.”

Heron and Santana are by no means unusual in organising concerts and then suddenly deciding to quit. Since the manufactured outrage over the Gaza flotilla incident, indie bands like The Pixies, Klaxons, and Gorillaz decided not to perform at Tel Aviv’s PiC.NiC Festival. The Pixies stated that “events beyond all our control” led to their withdrawal, but apparently the Israeli naval boarding of the flotilla affected the decision. This is a common theme in the statements of performers quitting Israel. In reality, pro-Palestinian campaigners probably got to them, especially with the surge of public outrage at the flotilla incident. Festival promoter Shuki Weiss issued a statement describing the decisions of these headlining bands as “a form of cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide.”

Elvis Costello’s cancellation a few weeks earlier was perhaps the most significant, as it garnered a lot of attention. On the 15th of May, Elvis Costello issued a statement where he wrote “It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel…” He asserted, “There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.” This assertion is absurd since his concert will principally be seen as a political act by extremists who try to politicise such shows in the first instance. Israel is a society that affords all citizens free speech. Many of those citizens are in fact enemies of the state who hold important influential positions in that society, one of the most famous examples being Ilan Pappe. A large, and in fact, rather worrying group of Israeli Jews side with the Palestinian movement, and their freedom of expression is not curtailed. Consequently, a performance in Israel need not be seen as advocacy.

Costello stated:

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security. I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation. Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.

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  • char

    Well, I'd say Israel should seriously concentrate on developing the best music & film in the world – so there.

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    Fool!

  • Pierre

    I learnt that
    "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast" Plato", but not the gangs of peudo-musicians…

  • Ron Grant

    I don't think anyone has accused these performers of antisemitism.The Israeli government stands accused of serious human rights violations against the Palestinians by friends and foes alike.Israel stubbornly and defiantly refuses to acknowledge any such violations.It is clear that more then words are needed to persuade Israel to make the needed and difficult changes demanded and required by the world community,including America.Apart from official sanctions and boycotts,which seem unlikely,cultural boycotts by named and respected performers are an appropriate tool to bring pressure to bear on Israel and her people.Israelis and her supporters can blame cultural terrorism for the boycotts,but until Israelis admit that something is seriously wrong in their treatment of the Palestinians the boycotts will continue and the isolation will grow.Hope that western governments will follow the lead of our performers and apply their own sanctions and boycotts seems unlikely.Israel should never have been admitted to the OECD.
    I would like to congratulate those performers who incurred personal loss and showed personal integrity in supporting the boycott of Israel.I would like to say that Israelis and Jews who take the courageous stand against their governments hurtful and unconscionable policies that deny the Palestinians their rightful place are truly righteous themselves.Muchiboy

    • T Finch

      I couldn't have said it better myself, it's heart warming to know there are still people in the world that know, and aren't afraid to tell the truth about the crimes of the state of Israel. We can only hope that one day the rest of the world will open their eyes and I praise anyone who brings this issue to the attention of the public, whether through BDS, protest or by any other means.

  • Larry

    Only a very sick society would ever call Elvis Costello, The Pixies, Klaxons, Gorillaz, Carlos Santana and Gil-Scot-Heron musical artists. Why don't they try to play their trash in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Gaza? I guess they have a fear of being stoned. Israel can do very well without this group of third rate so called artists.

  • Brian Schiff

    I haven't hear anything by Gil Scott Heron is probably 30 years;he sucked then-and he
    sucks worse,now.

  • Travis

    Hey most performers are not canceling. Metallica played in Israel as did Black Eyed Peas and Elton John. Ozzy Osbourne and Jeff Beck will be performing as well.

  • Marty

    Israelis have plenty of excellent music without these performers. They are the latest victims of islamist intimidation.

  • JulieJ.

    I just cancelled the aging Elvis costello. He is Elvis Who?

  • Ron Grant

    I don't think anyone has accused these performers of antisemitism.The Israeli government stands accused of serious human rights violations against the Palestinians by friends and foes alike.Israel stubbornly and defiantly refuses to acknowledge any such violations.It is clear that more then words are needed to persuade Israel to make the needed and difficult changes demanded and required by the world community,including America.Apart from official sanctions and boycotts,which seem unlikely,cultural boycotts by named and respected performers are an appropriate tool to bring pressure to bear on Israel and her people.Israelis and her supporters can blame cultural terrorism for the boycotts,but until Israelis admit that something is seriously wrong in their treatment of the Palestinians the boycotts will continue and the isolation will grow.Hope that western governments will follow the lead of our performers and apply their own sanctions and boycotts seems unlikely.Israel should never have been admitted to the OECD unless it was the intention of that organization to use its membership to Influence Israeli policy.
    Performers who support the boycott and Israelis and Jews generally who advocate against immoral Israeli policy or even Zionism are true heroes and righteous persons.Muchiboy

  • seels4truth

    Lies are like seeds. Left alone they will spread, take root and grow into bigger lies. The Arabs can't defeat Israel militarily so they have been chipping away at Israel's legitimacy. The Arabs have kept hundreds of thousands of fellow Arabs in poverty in order to use them as a political wedge against Israel. No longer does the World see them as tools but as "oppressed" by Israel. The Arabs have successfully convinced the liberal fools that it is Israel that has kept these people as refugees. Arafat walks away from a peace agreement and it's Israel's fault. Gaza is ceded to the Arabs, Hamas takes over firing thousands of rockets into Israel and Israel is the oppressor. As the fool costello says "violent acts of liberation". Liberation from what? From Israel preventing suicide bombers from entering Israel? The entire premise is beyond the pale of sanity. There are Israelis that hate their own country so much they wish it destroyed. So why do they live there? Are they suicidal in what they wish for? These same people would be silenced by death if they spoke up in an Arab country. Most of the musicians are fools and followers that do whatever they can to sell more records. They are close to whores in their approach.

  • WSK

    The simple answer is to not purchase anything from these "artists".

  • http://understandingevil.wordpress.com annaliese fleming

    I don't see what the fuss is about. But if Justin Bieber cancels an appearance, THEN I'll be really devestated.

  • flyingtiger

    If Elvis Costello was alive in 1944, he would be wearing a SS uniform and commanding a death camp. The talent that oppose Isreal are second rate and who cares about them. Let them boycott and let them be replaced by good performers. It is time for Girlschool to tour Isreal again.

  • Rob

    A rational and intelligent entertainment industry would have done the exact opposite of what it has done and is doing now. For the last 30 years, while Israel was being pummeled by terrorism and missiles, along with kidnappings by Hezbollah or Hamas, there were no entertainers who said "enough!" Only a few, like Madonna, stood up to this obvious intimidation of democracy and intentionally gave concerts.

    The very act of cancelling a concert due to Arab intimidation gives "war" and terror their tacit approval. It is not just against "peace," Israel, U.S. forces in the region, but also an indirect act against the U.S. itself, which becomes a patsy to Muslim intimidation.

    Regardless of how popular, rich, smart, and idol-worshipped they are, our entertainers are becoming little more than amplified musical "wizards" whose curtain has been opened. They become stammering and pathetic symbols of America's declining moral strength. Even their massive 1,000 watt speakers and amps can't hide their cowering stance, as American music becomes a symbol of weakness instead of strength.

  • steve

    There are two things that are important to a "celebrity": their life and their freedom to do anything they want. Everything else is not on their agenda despite their "humanitarian" claims. So standing with Israel threatens their life and their freedom to continue to make money elsewhere in the world. It's not hard for them to walk away from Israel under false pretenses since most of them do not live to sacrifice themselves for any cause; perhaps a occasional concert for the "benefit" of something or other but nothing that could possibly threaten their freedom or money-making machine. I think the word "wimps" comes to mind. And let's not get into how many of them promote demonic music anyway.

  • Jim Golden

    Most of these "Artists" (?) cater to a young audience, who will understand, if they don't already, that these people are the not very important in the long run. What I would say to my child if they asked my input on this would be: "How sincere are these people? If they were truly making a stand, why not disallow their CDs from being sold in Isael? But oh nooooooooo!!!!!!

  • courtnye

    Never cared for their music anyway

  • johnnywood

    Cowards and hypocrites one and all!

  • chris jones

    We're not up against a tiny minority of trouble-makers here folks, one bad apple and all that. There are millions of these people and they're trying very hard to win. Going to a concert just to heckle a performer who is scheduled to play in Israel, wow, nice detail. I'm truly alarmed by the sheer energy of these people, they're as eager as the Hitler Youth. And after they win, the Socialists and the Muslims will fight to the death, and then it will be time for the Shia to face the Sunni.

  • Jaded

    As a nonpartisan observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it seems basically like a marriage made in hell. Both sides continually fan the flames of war, Israel with its settlement policy, the Palestinians with their terrorism. I am at a loss as to how either side, at this point, can claim the mantle of "justice," and why partisans for both sides think they are somehow more wronged than the other. Anybody who is not a Jew or a Muslim can see this for what it is — too many people fighting over a small piece of land they both consider sacred. Fine. Let them settle it, through war or peace, but how it ever became a "human rights" issue when both sides have tortured prisoners, murdered innocent civilians, and, in general, have continually acted stupidly since the 1930s, is beyond me at this point. There are far greater injustices on earth than whatever crimes the Israelis and Palestinians have charged each other with, and millions of victims of tyrants and butchers who have no friends in Hollywood, New York City or Washington, D.C. I'm so sick of hearing about this stupid conflict. Neither side actually cares about the God they claim to worship — if they did, they would have made peace decades ago. The only way clear is a complete renunciation of violence by BOTH sides AT ONCE. Then it will truly be a Holy Land, and not a perpetual CNN headline.

  • Ron Grant

    I don't think anyone has accused these performers of antisemitism.The Israeli government stands accused of serious human rights violations against the Palestinians by friends and foes alike.Israel stubbornly and defiantly refuses to acknowledge any such violations.It is clear that more then words are needed to persuade Israel to make the needed and difficult changes demanded and required by the world community,including America.Apart from official sanctions and boycotts,which seem unlikely,cultural boycotts by named and respected performers are an appropriate tool to bring pressure to bear on Israel and her people.Israelis and her supporters can blame cultural terrorism for the boycotts,but until Israelis admit that something is seriously wrong in their treatment of the Palestinians the boycotts will continue and the isolation will grow.Hope that western governments will follow the lead of our performers and apply their own sanctions and boycotts seems unlikely.Israel should never have been admitted to the OECD unless this organization intends to influence Israel as a member.Muchiboy

  • R/T

    That was really sickening on the part of Elvis Costello .

  • http://rebelrebel.typepad.com/rebelrebel/ RebelRebelBlog

    All the more reason to go out and buy Madman Across the Water by Elton John, who refused to be cowed by threats. What a black mark on those artists reputations. Costello in particular, really stuck his neck on the block for no reason, and I am repulsed to even hear his lame ass music after he made such a fool of himself over this.

  • Ron Grant

    "There are far greater injustices on earth than whatever crimes the Israelis and Palestinians have charged each other with, and millions of victims of tyrants and butchers "

    I'd like to know how you define injustices,Jaded.Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been denied their birthright and homeland as a result of this conflict.And of course,when it's you and yours, things are a little more personal.And that's only the side I support.
    Of course there are good people on both sides of this conflict who yearn and work for peace,justice and fairness.Palestinians and Israelis are more alike then different.While the world is full of pain and conflict,most neighbors live in peace and most conflicts are settled.The fact that this conflict has not yet been settled despite Israel having defeated the Palestinians and their supporters several times should tell the Israelis and the world something.When a warring state is victorious over its enemies peace may ensue if the reasons for that war are righteous and resolved e.g.against cruel tyranny,against Nazism.But when the conditions of injustice persist or even made worse,war does not bring peace.Israel has much to learn about power,victory and defeat.Perhaps her immaturity and brutality in these matters is best understood in that the re-created Israel took over (1948) from where the biblical Israel left off (70-135 AD) with some two thousand years between the two.Only when Israel is defeated totally,maybe in 2,000 years,or when Israel is magnanimous in her victories will we see the conditions ripe for peace.One need only look to the Allies and their treatment of their defeated enemies e.g. Nazi Germany and Japan to see the wisdom of such a far sighted policy.It is doubtful that this Zionist state can match such magnanimity or achieve the respect of her enemies, Muchiboy

  • A. Ray

    So much for peace and understanding. Of course Mr. Costello et al shouldn't perform in Israel, they might get hurt in the short time they are there. Don't waste time in Israel with fans who enjoy his songs and what he has to say. I'm sure he's going to brave the stadiums full of fans in the rest of the Middle East (Damascus, Beirut, Tehran, etc.) singing them into peaceful understanding. Good job sir, go where you're needed and your incredible talent will be taken to heart.

  • Ron Grant

    "There are far greater injustices on earth than whatever crimes the Israelis and Palestinians have charged each other with, and millions of victims of tyrants and butchers "

    I'd like to know how you define injustices,Jaded.Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been denied their birthright and homeland as a result of this conflict.And of course,when it's you and yours, things are a little more personal.And that's only the side I support.
    Of course there are good people on both sides of this conflict who yearn and work for peace,justice and fairness.Palestinians and Israelis are more alike then different.While the world is full of pain and conflict,most neighbors live in peace and most conflicts are settled.The fact that this conflict has not yet been settled despite Israel having defeated the Palestinians and their supporters several times should tell the Israelis and the world something.When a warring state is victorious over its enemies peace may ensue if the reasons for that war are righteous and resolved e.g.against cruel tyranny,against Nazism.But when the conditions of injustice persist or even made worse,war does not bring peace.Israel has much to learn about power,victory and defeat.Perhaps her immaturity and brutality in these matters is best understood in that the re-created Israel took over (1948) from where the biblical Israel left off (70-135 AD) with some two thousand years between the two.Only when Israel is defeated totally,maybe in 2,000 years,or when Israel is magnanimous in her victories will we see the conditions ripe for peace.One need only look to the Allies and their treatment of their defeated enemies e.g. Nazi Germany and Japan to see the wisdom of such a far sighted policy.It is doubtful that this Zionist state can match such magnanimity or achieve the respect of her enemies, Muchiboy

  • George

    IWhat does an article like this mean?

    It's another example of the knee-jerk reaction among Israelis=
    "Israel can do no wrong."

    Israel can do no wrong. (Repeat ad nauseum).

    Normally, when you see a people devoting their undying allegiance and obedience to their state (eventhough they all know their leadership is corrupt), you describe those people in unflattering terms.
    (Brainswashed, chauvinist, fascist, fundamentalist, manipulated, etc.)

    There is so little self-questioning in Israel, so little doubt, so little self-criticism, so little shame, that even a critical stance adopted by non-Israeli citizens can only be understood by Israelis as
    A-"self-hating" Jews
    B-antisemitism posing as legitimate criticism
    C-terrorist aggitators posing as humanitarian activists
    and now
    D-people scared out of their minds by the "The MTV Palestinian Fanboy Club".

    Israel is a land where intellectuals who have opinions about Israel which are not 100% supportive are either barred from entering or "invited" to leave.

    No wonder it is so hard for you to accept that people might dare to see Israel as the bullying thug it has become.
    Have you forgotten what Gil Scott Heron had to say about his own country in the sixties and seventies? What he said about South Africa? Do you really think he had to be forced by his fans to skip Israel?

    Wake up.

  • Foolster41

    “We will not participate in a boycott against the State of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult long-standing historical disputes.” Frankly, Richard Moore is an Idiot. He sounds like he is standing up for Isreal, but really he is making (whether he realizes it or not) in this this lame comparison between Fascist Socialist China and Isreal, where Arabs have MORE rights than Jews do in Arab countries! With friends like these…

    What is exactly wrong with boycotting fascist regimes that supresses the freedom of religion and arrests and tortures dissenters? (No need for people with BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) to speak up, I disliked Bush too, but Bush was from 2000-208, China has been far worse for far longer. )

  • George

    “We will not participate in a boycott against the State of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult long-standing historical disputes.”

    Great. That stance means that there is never any reason to boycot or sanction any country for anything it may do.

    It seems such an odd argument to use, if you consider that so many people in Israel want to sanction and boycot and isolate and maybe even attack Iran…for something it has not even done.

  • jef

    The majority of artists are not that smart. How can you be so wrong on an issue as to support Muslim terrorists? They have sold their soul to the death cult of Islam.

  • ozlemuzun

    It is an important step for reacting against the violence of Israel. When famous people do something it eases other people to see what is happening. Together, with the help of celebrities the world will be much more aware of unhumanitarian acts of Israel in Gaza.

  • Spiridon

    Please give the names of all the artists/groups that cancelled and publish it widely in the conservative/pro-Israel blogosphere. We need to know who not to listen to. Oh, and add Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman to the list. Looks like Hoffman is one of those "lefty ideology first, Israel second" Jews.

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  • Bill

    Israel is a terror state,

  • janet jocson

    It bothers me and was wondering a lot about most of the scheduled singing events cancelled. I guess for the mean time I need to be contented of what I have at home like my new phone app Karaoke scheduler and do my own singing.

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