Prominent DJs Back Israel Boycott Over 'Brutal Oppression of the Palestinian People'

Several artists post #DJsForPalestine along with statement saying they refuse to perform in Israel 'As long as the Israeli government continues its brutal and sustained oppression of the Palestinian people'

The Black Madonna. Artists have been here and promised to return, until they discovered there’s such a thing as the occupation.
Laura McDermott / NYT

Several top electronic musicians, producers and DJs worldwide pledged their support for a campaign promoting a cultural boycott of Israel.

Artists such as Caribou, the Black Madonna, Four Tet and Ben UFO – some of whom have performed in Israel in the past – posted the hashtag DjsForPalestine along with a message saying: "As long as the Israeli government continues its brutal and sustained oppression of the Palestinian people we respect their call for a boycott of Israel as a means of peaceful protest against the occupation."

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"My personal history on this issue is that i travelled to play at The Block in Tel Aviv in 2013," wrote British DJ Ben Thomson, known as Ben UFO. "i wasn't well informed then, and my experience of travelling there was what gave me the impetus to read and learn more."

Thomson wrote that after he was asked to join the campaign, he "felt it would be dishonest to continue to say nothing. i'm still really hopeful that one day i'll be able to play in Israel again."

Earlier this month, Lana Del Rey cancelled her scheduled performance at the Meteor Festival in northern Israel. Numerous other artists soon followed suit, withdrawing their performance in protest of the Israeli government's policies.

Roger Waters, who publically called upon Del Rey to cancel her concert in a Facebook post, commended the DJs for their solidarity with the BDS campaign, welcoming "all our brothers and sisters to the barricades."

Waters also singled out Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington after Del Rey withdrew from the festival's bill, citing a track by Washington which commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.

"Its application to the oppression of our brothers and sisters in Palestine is palpable," Waters wrote in a public Facebook post addressed to Washington, adding he "had assumed it would be a given" that Washington would cancel.

Notwithstanding the boycotters who have acceded to the demands of Waters – the most prominent musician linked to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – there are plenty of superstar musicians like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and the Rolling Stones who have come to Israel as part of their concert tours, even though they suffered the same pressures. The performers most vocal about their decision to appear in Israel have been Radiohead and Nick Cave.

At a press conference on the eve of his concert, Cave expressed his opinion on the demand to boycott Israel: “It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke took the message one step further and tweeted: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government. We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America. We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.” As Yorke put it, music, art and academia are “about crossing borders, not building them.”