The Interior Ministry asked the producer of Elton John’s upcoming concert in Tel Aviv to sign a declaration of loyalty on John’s behalf as a condition of his appearance here in May, concert producer Shuki Weiss said on Monday. Later the Interior Ministry called Weiss’ statement “wacky and crazy” and “a blatant lie.”
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Speaking on a panel at a conference sponsored by Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet on the struggle against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Weiss said, “Artists are refusing to sign a declaration of loyalty to Israel as a condition for coming to Israel. That was a demand made by the Interior Ministry as a condition for getting a work visa. Only two weeks ago Elton John was asked to sign a declaration of loyalty. That insane idea has been dropped.”
Weiss added that he had received an official request from the Interior Ministry “which transferred the handling of the work visa required of every performer who comes to Israel, to the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, which deals with work visas for foreign workers, and there you have to sign [a] loyalty to Israel [declaration].”
According to sources in Weiss’ office, the issue was dropped when the producer explained the problematic nature of the request. The British singer is scheduled to perform May 26 at Ganei Yehoshua in Tel Aviv.
The Interior Ministry spokeswoman denied the claims, calling them “wacky and crazy.”
“This is a blatant lie aimed at grabbing headlines at the expense of a government ministry. Never has any artist been asked to sign such a declaration. We are considering a libel suit against Weiss,” she said.
Later, Weiss’ office produced the standard form for obtaining an entry permit to Israel and pointed out what it considers the problematic clause, which reads, “I declare that I have never acted against the Jewish people or the security of the State of Israel.”
In response, the spokeswoman said, “What does that have to do with a declaration of loyalty? Why hasn’t Shuki Weiss, who brings foreign artists here every Monday and Thursday, ever raised an outcry over the years and waited until today?”
Responding to a query from Haaretz, Weiss said he brought up the form to "illustrate the lack of cooperation and support by the government in holding international cultural events in Israel."