Lana Del Rey’s cancellation Saturday of her performance at Israel’s Meteor Festival has elicited many and varied responses, with pressure being applied on other musicians on social media to refrain from playing at the festival in Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan at the end of this week.
A source close to the production said Del Rey was paid an advance of $700,000 before she cancelled, Variety reported Friday. A day later, American electronic musician Shlohmo also announced that he wouldn’t be coming to Israel.
Shlohmo said he initially agreed to perform in order to donate his pay to the inhabitants of Gaza, but later realized that canceling the performance was more important. Later, the American DJ Volvox also announced her cancellation an Facebook:
The South African duo Black Motion was removed from the lineup a week after South African BDS activists issued a press release stating that the pair would not appear in Israel as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people. However, festival officials say the cancellation is not yet final. The names of British DJ Shanti Celeste and Swedish DJ Seinfeld have also been removed from the event schedule, even though neither of the artists have issued an official statement.
Also on the list of cancellations: British DJ Leon Vynehall, Turkish singer Selda, Nazareth electronic duo Zenobia and Australian DJ Mall Grab.
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Roger Waters, a noisy and enthusiastic supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement whose efforts on the Del Rey front paid off, is now aiming his arrows at another marquee name, the American jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington. "Given that Lana Del Rey has now cancelled, you are the only notable standout," Waters wrote to Washington on Facebook. “Please don’t play the Meteor Festival - פסטיבל מטאור in Tel Aviv [sic]. To do so would be a betrayal of everyone who ever stood up for civil or human rights anywhere.”
Every such cancellation was welcomed with joyous tweets by supporters of the anti-Israel boycott and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Liat Turgeman, who is in charge of public relations for Meteor Festival, emphasizes that none of the performers who withdrew did so as a result of Del Rey's announcement. “Some of the people were in danger of canceling before her announcement, but they definitely withdrew at the same time, and their announcements were issued after hers.” Turgeman also notes that three new names have been added to the lineup: Actress, Dan Shake and the British DJ and production duo Secretsundaze. She says that anyone who has bought tickets and wants to return them can get a refund at the ticket office.
As of Sunday afternoon, around 15,000 people had signed an online petition by the BDS movement calling on Kamasi Washington, Pusha T, Flying Lotus and Of Montreal to pull out of the festival. In addition to Waters, other musicians from around the world have joined the calls to cancel. The British DJ Ross From Friends tweeted that he was “not interested in playing at Meteor Festival in Israel” and shared a link to PACBI’s call to boycott the event. The American singer Tom Krell (who performs as How to Dress Well) tweeted that he refused to take part in the festival. The British musician Deadboy called on the artists who were scheduled to perform at Meteor to boycott. He added that he had played in Israel in the past, "before I was clued up on the situation. I would never play there now." The American DJ The Black Madonna, who also performed in Israel previously, retweeted Del Rey's cancellation announcement and added: "It’s good she cancelled. Go Lana. To be clear though, Israel and Palestine are the exact same place physically, and the occupying Israeli force is never going to let her perform anywhere for Palestinians who are basically living in an open air prison."
Some artists, however, have expressed support for the festival. The singer Boy George said in a tweet that Del Rey was "wrong to cancel." He had called on her to perform in Israel, telling her "You have 'music' and it is a magical healing force" as well as "We all pray for a time when Palestine is free and musicians can celebrate with those free Palestinians." The American DJ Honey Dijon tweeted two weeks ago: "All of you people criticizing me about playing in Israel, when you come to America and stand up for the murder of black trans women and the prison industrial complex of black men then we can debate. I play for people not governments."
"We're under quite a bit of pressure," Turgeman says. "It's an entire machine whose purpose is to press things in a rather shallow manner in order to cause performers to cancel." She stresses that the concert organizers receive no government funding. "We're a private, independent body composed solely of the dreams of individuals who love music. That's also the message we make sure to send the artists in order to remind them that we're talking about human beings, not political agendas. In addition, we approached the project with sufficient determination and excitement to overcome all the difficulties that sprang up along the way."