Israeli Singer Ninet Tayeb Slams U.S. Indie Rocker for Nixing Tel Aviv Shows

Devendra Banhart said he was looking forward to performing in Israel but was forced to cancel due to political pressures.

Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb on Tuesday lashed out at American indie rocker Devendra Banhart, who canceled his planned performance in Tel Aviv one day earlier, just three hours before he was due to arrive in the Israel.

American indie rocker Devendra Banhart
Tali Shani

"A few days ago I played him on my program with pride because he is a great musician and mainly because he was clear, strong and decisive on his stand to come to Israel," Tayeb said.

"I likened him to the king of the animals, a mighty lion. Today, I think he is a great musician but more like the lion from the Wizard of Oz – a coward and pitiful."

"I thought, like many others, that he was above politics and religion. This is truly a great disappointment."

Banhart's agents said that the musician was pressured into canceling the performance for political reasons.

"We love the land and people of Israel, and have been looking forward to our third show there with unimaginable anticipation," Banhart's official website said.

"Unfortunately, we tried to make it clear that we were coming to share a human and not a political message but it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own. We will be overjoyed to return to Israel on the day that our presence is perceived and reported on as a cultural event and not a political one. We truly hope that day comes soon."

Bernhart was booked for two concert's at Tel Aviv's Barbie club – June 15, 16 – and the concerts were nearly sold out.

The show's Israeli producers said that they were "very disappointed by the cancellation and very surprised by the last-minute decision, particularly in light of the fact that his managers repeatedly stated that they would not cancel under any circumstance and would arrive in Israel as planned."

Ticket holders will be reimbursed.