Indie rock cancels Tel Aviv concert after boycott pressure

American indie rock band Big Thief has announced that it has canceled its upcoming concerts in Tel Aviv amid pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Prior to the cancellation, Big Thief announced on June 3 that they would play for the Tel Aviv Barbie Club on July 6 and 7; In their statement they addressed the BDS movement. “In terms of where we fit in with the boycott, we don’t pretend to know where the moral high ground lies and we want to remain open to others’ perspectives and love beyond the disagreement,” they said. We understand the inherent political nature of playing there as well as the ramifications. It is not our intention to devalue those who support a boycott or turn a blind eye to those who are suffering. We strive to be in the spirit of learning.” The Instagram post concluded by pledging to donate the proceeds of the concerts to NGOs that provide assistance to Palestinian children.

But on June 9, the band disavowed their previous comments on BDS. “Our intent in wanting to perform in Tel Aviv, where Max was born, raised and currently lives, stems from a simple belief that music can heal,” Big Thief said. The band’s bassist, Max Ulrichek is the son of Alon Ulrichek, bassist of the Israeli rock band Kaveret. “We now understand that the offers we booked do not honor this statement,” Big Thief’s statement continued. “We apologize to those who were offended by the recklessness and naivety of our original statement about playing in Israel and hope that those who were planning to attend the shows will understand our choice to cancel them.”

Barbie responded to Big Thief’s decision to cancel the shows with his own statement criticizing the band, stating that Big Thief first approached the club about performing there. The Tel Aviv club continued to call the band’s members “pitiful” and “afraid of their shadow”. “It’s going to be just another band that comes and goes out of the world like everyone else,” Barbie’s statement read, according to The Times of Israel (TOI). “I wish you all the misfortune in the world, just as I did to your fan base in Israel.”

The Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) said in a statement that the grand thief acquiesced “to the demands of the boycott movement that openly rejects coexistence and seeks to destroy Israel, undermining the principles of participation, tolerance and dialogue.” “as such [Australian musician] Nick Cave said: “The cultural boycott of Israel is cowardly and shameful. Israel is a real, vibrant, working democracy – yes, with Arab members of parliament – ​​and so engaging with Israelis, who vote, may be more beneficial than scaring artists or shutting down the means of participation.” “Ultimately, the boycott is an affront to Palestinian and Israeli moderates alike who seek peace through compromise, exchange and mutual recognition,” the CCFP said. “Music in Israel brings people of all backgrounds together – Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, black and white, Muslims and Christians – and concerts in Israel play a small but crucial role in bringing about this peace, we hope.”

Big Thief’s cancellation has also been criticized on social media.

“Shame on you for surrendering to the anti-Semitic boycott,” Michael Dixon, CEO of StandWithUs Israel, tweeted to the band. “You have had the opportunity to play for the most diverse and freest audience in the United States [Middle East] It brings people together. Instead I chose partition. Your naive decision does not advance peace one iota and gives aid to extremists.”

Similarly, Stop Anti-Semitism tweeted that the big thief “has surrendered to anti-Semitism – plain and simple. This doesn’t help the Palestinians, it just increases the hatred of Jews.”

Daniel Sugarman, Director of Public Affairs for British Jewish Houses of Representatives, tweeted: “I’ve never heard of this band but *we are canceling our shows in Tel Aviv despite the fact that one of our band members was born, raised and currently lives in Tel Aviv* and is double minded at the platinum level. “.

Journalist Yves Barlow tweeted, “For the umpteenth time we see a band being pressured to play the civilians of the Jewish nation out of fear of how their stance on the conflict will be portrayed. Let’s see if they have the same energy for other regions stuck in perpetual conflict.”

David Drayman, head of metal band Disturbed, tweeted that he was “frustrated” with Big Thief’s decision and offered to “have a dialogue” with the band “about reconsidering your decision, and using your music to connect people rather than cut them off.”

Alon Ulrichek told public broadcaster Kahn that Big Thief “received thousands of threats” after they initially announced the concerts and that Max was “crushed”. “He really wanted that to happen,” he said at TOI.

Leave a Comment