Indie rockers cancel Tel Aviv concert, join growing cultural boycott of Israel
American rock group the Pixies has canceled its June 9 concert in Tel Aviv. The band, which was to have headlined the Pic.Nic festival, joined Gorillaz Sound System and the Klaxons in pulling out following last week's flotilla affair.
The Pixies issued a statement saying that they would "like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans, but events beyond all our control have conspired against us. We can only hope for better days, in which we will finally present the long awaited visit of the Pixies in Israel."
Ticket holders can get refunds from the Kastel ticket agency and at sale points, beginning at 9 A.M. today. It is not known at whether the British rock band The Editors will appear as planned on Wednesday.
The producer of the Pixies' concert, Shuki Weiss, said he "regretted that repeated attempts to bring good music to Israel and produce quality shows and festivals fall victim to a series of political events which express themselves in new ways that I have no other word to define other than cultural terror on Israel and art everywhere."
Weiss said bands that had canceled were making "cynical, ugly and insulting use of art as a weapon." He said the artists who declined to come to Israel should "scrutinize the acts of many governments worldwide and put to the test their relationship to their to their fans in these places."
The latest cancelations underscore what appears to be a growing cultural blacklisting of Israel. Even before the Israeli raid of the 'Free Gaza' flotilla, two big-name concerts were canceled: hip-hop artist Gil Scott-Heron and singer Elvis Costello.
The latter released a letter at the time describing his dilemma: "Then 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 ... 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."
Costello added his apologies to ticket-holders.
Meanwhile, the names have been released of the artists to perform at the another large indie rock gathering in Tel Aviv: The Heineken Music Conference and the end of August. Among those scheduled to appear are Leftfield, LCD Soundsystem, and Pil. Pil vocalist John Lydon told his Israeli production team that he would not be canceling and slammed Costello for doing so.
He said artists who cancel because of hatred of a country's government make enemies of the people who a moment before were their fans.
Kobi Snitz, an Israeli left-wing activist who works to further the boycott of Israel, wrote the Pixies three months ago asking them to cancel their performance here.
He did not receive a reply. "It's not that the Israelis did not contribute to the decision; it's simply not us, it's other Israelis, [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak and [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], so no one can come complaining to us," Snitz said. "The easy decision for an artist today is not to come to Israel. Costello said it best; he said he would be happy if music wasn't political, but if he comes it will look like he is ignoring Palestinian suffering."
In an interview with The Forward, an Israeli producer who declined to give his name said he had approached 15 artists of international renown about appearing in Israel and they all declined, despite the promise of high fees.
"Artists who had planned on coming in August suddenly said this week they are already booked," Shaul Mizrachi, owner of the Barby, a popular Tel Aviv rock club, said. Mizrachi blamed Israeli leftists for the cancelations.
Producer Srulik Einhorn, who is bringing American singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart to Israel, said Banhart would not cancel, and "would give a positive focus on artists who do decide to come."
Spokesmen for the producers of the Elton John concert on June 17 and for the Rod Stewart concert on June 30 said they were confident the two singers would not cancel.