Jerusalem Bars Song From Indie City Festival for Being 'Too Political'

The song includes a line referring to an anti-Arab rabbi and a massacre carried out at Palestinians refugee camps in Lebanon while Israeli forces turned a blind eye

Aryeh and Avshalom Hasfari of the band 'WC.'
Tomer Appelbaum

The Jerusalem municipality has barred a song from being performed at the Indie City Festival next week for being “too political.”

The brothers Aryeh and Avshalom Hasfari of the band “WC” chose the song “Satirikanim” (satirists) when they were invited over the summer to perform at the festival. The song includes the line: “Where are the people who stop the Rabbi Kahane marches with their bodies? / Where are the people who took to the streets over Sabra and Chatila?” 

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Rabbi Kahane refers to Meir Kahane, an anti-Arab and far-right rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League and was assassinated in 1990. Sabra and Chatila are two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where a Lebanese milita massacred some 600 men, women and children during the 1982 Lebanon War while Israeli military forces turned a blind eye.

The manager of the Hasfari brothers, who produced an album criticizing the Israeli government and the occupation in the past, said the festival’s organizers asked “WC” to perform in early July.

“We told them that we wanted to produce a clip for [the song] ‘satirists’ and the event director, Bettina Feinstein, gave us the green light. The truth is that this is not so much a protest song as a song calling for people to take to the streets,” the manager, Renan Sol, said. 

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“We started scouting locations for the shoot [of the clip] and we chose a hill from which we could see the territories and the fires rising from there. We reserved shooting days, all the sound and video people. And then, two days before the shoot, in August, I got a phone call from Feinstein, who told us that an instruction had come down from above that we have to replace the song because it was too political,” Sol said.

According to Sol, the Hasfari brothers then decided to pull out of the festival, “because this band came together to convey its words. We wanted the clip more than the performance. In the end we wanted something meaningful to remain that can run on YouTube.” 

Sol continues: “Our choice of location [of the clip] was very specific and we were not prepared to give in. What bothers us the most is the message we got that because this is an election year, nobody is willing to sign a check that will promote political messages.”

Aryeh Hasfari told Haaretz that he was shocked at the city’s response. “This is an amazing project that has done some very brave things. It’s alright if they’re afraid and I understand them, but from the outset it says that we can’t be partners with them, and it’s a shame we wasted our time.”

The Jerusalem municipality said in response: “The festival production thought that parts of the song might be perceived as encouraging violence, which is why the band was asked to replace the song.”