Sunday, May 28th | 8 Sivan 5783

May 9, 2023 10:23 am

Musicians Cancel Israel Concerts to Appease BDS Haters

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avatar by Alan Zeitlin


Sam Smith. Photo: Erintheredmc via Wikimedia Commons.

The singer Sam Smith recently cancelled a concert in Tel Aviv (his camp has said it’s due to technical and logistical problems). Sadly, it’s possible to be a genius as a musician, and a fool as a person.

Nobody forced Smith to perform in Israel. Instead of educating himself about the conflict, it appears he just bought the Palestinian propaganda — hook, line, and sinker. Social media likely played a huge factor in his decision.

If you feel that Palestinians are being treated so unfairly to the extent that you believe boycotting Israel achieves something, it’s your right — even though you’re wrong.

If artists care so much, why don’t they do a show in Ramallah and donate the proceeds to Palestinians?

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Lana Del Ray has cancelled. Lorde, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, and Lauryn Hill have cancelled.

Radiohead went on with a performance, with Thom Yorke saying that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.”

Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Paul McCartney also have had shows in  Israel, despite criticism. Does any person of sound mind think that agreeing to perform a show and then abruptly cancelling it is due to thoughtful consideration? Many artists, with no understanding of history and wars, would need several months to study the facts and make an educated decision.

There is nothing wrong with changing one’s mind. If you do it due to new information, that’s fine. But what happens is that some musicians become slaves to attacks on social media. That just feeds the bullies, who will become more empowered.

Any artist performing anywhere should research the government before signing a contract. To pretend they suddenly got new information that they didn’t have before is a farce, as are excuses such as “technical difficulties.” I think people with millions of dollars can figure out how to perform a concert.

Of course, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd has led the charge to try to get performers to stop playing in Israel. He ought to educate himself about the conflict and hear both sides. But in life, people often prefer the appearance of action over actual action that makes a difference.

In Judaism, we are not supposed to bow down to idols. Sadly, some musicians bow down to social media numbers and comments.

The author is a writer based in New York.

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