How does it feel to be isolated?

The growing numbers of Western acts boycotting Israel due to its criminality – Elvis Costello, the Pixies and Gorillaz, to name a few – is causing unease in the Jewish state. We just want to be normal, they say, and the world to ignore what we’re doing to the Palestinians down the road from our houses. Fat chance:

The announcement by the Pixies, an American alternative rock band, that they would cancel their long-awaited concert in Israel this week amid international outrage over Israel’s deadly raid on a Turkish activists’ ship bound for Gaza, had an impact far beyond the 15,000 disappointed fans.

Some Israelis took the cancellation as an indication of the growing isolation they believe their government’s policies are leading to. For others, it served as proof of how deeply Israel is misunderstood.

Either way, the cancellation mobilized the Israeli pop world and its supporters against the threat of a widening cultural boycott, which many here view as a misguided policy and unfair punishment that the Israeli public does not deserve.

Benny Dudkevitch, a veteran Israel Radio editor and popular music historian, described the Pixies’ cancellation as “a slap in the face.”

“We have waited so long for them,” he added. “It hurts.”

Shuki Weiss, one of Israel’s premier promoters and production managers, said he had been working to bring the Pixies to Israel for more than 10 years.

Music is a force that usually combats violence and hatred, he said. He calls the boycott movement “cultural terrorism.”

Like many here, Mr. Weiss argued that music and politics should not mix. “But if we do want to get into politics, I have a long list of countries that could be boycotted,” he said.

If the Pixies had something to say to Israel’s leaders, he and others noted, they could have come and said it here.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common