We will not be pressured into cancelling our scheduled Israel concert, Ian Anderson, of the famed British rock group Jethro Tull said in a statement recently published in the band's official website, saying that the proceeds of the upcoming show would be transferred to charities advancing co-existence between Arabs, Jews, and Christians.
Anderson's statement comes in the wake of recent cancellations by major artists in the wake of Israel's raid of a Turkish Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which resulted in the death of nine flotilla participants.
In the most recent of such cancellations, British electronica duo Leftfield announced Friday that they would be cancelling their scheduled performance in Israel on August 31st due what they referred to as production problems.
While Leftfield's official reason for cancellations was "technical problems," their official Facebook page published a letter sent to them by the organization Boycott Israel calling for them to "postpone your planned concert in Israel this summer, indefinitely."
Leftfield joined a growing list of artists and musicians who have recently cancelled their shows in Israel due to political reasons, among others were Elvis Costello, The Pixies, Jill Scott Heron, Santana, The Klaxons and the Gorillaz Sound System.
Having performed concerts in the Middle East region many times over the last few years, I am well aware of the ethnic and religious tensions existing, not only in the countries concerned, but in the broader international diasporas representing the various groups and their interests.
In his letter, Jethro Tull's Anderson said that his decision to keep the band's Augeust 7 Israel performance does not mean that he is "about to tell the rest of the musicians or crew what views they should hold or what to do with their remuneration."
"Nor do I feel pressured by human rights groups, national interests or any individuals to perform or not to perform in Israel or anywhere else," Anderson said, adding that he would make up his "own mind in light of available facts, with my own experience and a sense of personal ethics."
"To 'those who tell me I should 'boycott' Israel (or, for that matter, Turkey or Lebanon)," Anderson wrote, "I can only point out that on my travels around the world I am continually reminded of atrocities carried out historically by many nations who are now our friends, and it serves to strengthen my resolve that some degree of peace and better understanding may result from my and other artists' professional and humble efforts in such places."
"If I had the opportunity to perform today in Iran or North Korea, hell - I'd be there if I thought it would make a tiny positive net contribution to better relations," he added.
The Jethro Tull front man said, however, that he would not ignore regional tensions, saying he has made a decision, "nonetheless, in February of 2009 that any future concerts in Israel by me or Jethro Tull would be for the benefit of charitable donations to bodies representing the development of peaceful co-existence between Arabs, Jews and Christians, and the fostering of better Palestinian/Israeli relations."
"So, I decided many months ago not to profit from my work in this troubled region and hope that interested parties on all sides will understand and respect my decision and resolve," Anderson said, adding that "the details of recipients of my charitable donation will be posted for the benefit of the doubters, as usual, on this website later in the year."