Music will not solve all of the world’s problems. A song can’t end poverty. An album won’t cure disease. And a concert won’t bring about that long-awaited and crucially important peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
But it can help. A song can raise awareness. An album can raise funds. And a concert can bring Jews and Arabs together, providing an opportunity for people from different walks of life to interact, to see beyond their differences and learn what unites them.
It can also provide a platform for musicians to raise their voices loudly and forcefully for peace, as Carlos Santana and Joss Stone did a couple weeks ago. At Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), we commend them for doing so, and we are hopeful that their actions and words will serve as a shining example for the many musicians who continue to perform in Israel.
British musician Joss Stone performed in Tel Aviv for the very first time on July 25. “Though this may have been Stone’s first performance in Israel,” concert reviewer Kayla Rosen wrote for the Jerusalem Post, “if the audience’s reaction is any indication of what’s to come, it will not be her last.”
The singer’s reaction gives the same impression. “I LOVED the experience of playing in [Israel],” Stone wrote on Facebook after her show. “Mainly because of the people. Because of their beautiful spirit. Because of their warmth and kindness, their ability to let go and feel.”
She acknowledged the pressure she received from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, urging her to cancel her show and boycott Israel. She firmly rebuffed the campaign, thanking those of her fans who responded to such pressure and supported her right to perform in Israel, and understood the importance of doing so.
“What we are trying to achieve whilst running from country to country on this literal total world tour is simply to spread love and joy through music,” she wrote. “Excluding no one. I do not discriminate….We cannot live our lives speaking of hate and sadness and then expect things to become brighter and more peaceful.”
Ms. Stone wasn’t the only big name to perform in Tel Aviv that week, nor was she the only one to preach a message of peace and love. Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, after a break of 29 years, finally returned to Israel for a concert on July 30, wowing 50,000 fans.
In 2010, Santana canceled a concert in Israel for logistical reasons, but was branded a BDS supporter after he neglected to make a public statement on the cancellation. That is, until he cleared the air earlier this year when he announced his show, stating unequivocally that he does not and did not support the movement to boycott Israel. In an interview ahead of the show, Santana explained why:
“I’m doing something constructive and productive with my light and my energy,” Santana said, referring to the funds he’s donating to the Hand in Hand schools, which bring together Jewish and Arab children. “There was a friend of mine who used to say, ‘Stop whining, complaining, and b****hing. Do something constructive or shut the heck up.’ You know? And so that’s my answer to a lot of people. I’m doing something from the center of my heart, like Bob Marley and John Lennon, to help this planet arrive with velocity to compassion and forgiveness.”
At CCFP, an organization of entertainment industry executives devoted to promoting the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel, we could not possibly agree more strongly with Joss Stone and Carlos Santana. The path to peace is paved with empathy and understanding, with interaction and togetherness. They helped to pave a bit more of that path last week, and we are confident that many more musicians will follow suit.
Morrisey, Queen and Adam Lambert, and Ricky Martin are just a few of the artists who will perform in Israel this year. To see a full listing, send the musicians a message of support, or purchase tickets, please see our concert calendar.