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Manfred Mann’s mistake

The band that canceled because Israel is 'too dangerous' would be safer avoiding those deadly London streets

There she was just walkin’ down the street
Singin’, “Do wah diddy, diddy, dum diddy do”
Snappin’ her fingers and shufflin’ her feet,
Singin’, “Do wah diddy diddy, dum diddy do”

The musicians of Manfred Mann, the rock band that brought us the classic image of freedom to walk and enjoy the public sphere, have concerns about walkin’ down the street in Tel Aviv.

The band sent a letter to the promoters of their Tel Aviv concert scheduled for next week and cancelled the performance because of “ongoing problems in Israel.” They defined these problems as “people being shot and beaten to death in the streets.”

Sounds pretty scary — they are afraid to come to Tel Aviv because, in their opinion, people are being shot. People are being beaten to death in the streets.

I was surprised to read about these concerns because I walk the streets of Tel Aviv and don’t see people being shot or being beaten to death. I was even more surprised because I assume that Manfred Mann has no problem performing in London, despite the fact that knife crimes were up by at least 18% in London in 2015. Indeed, at least 10 youngsters were stabbed to death in London in 2015, and many of those stabbings were committed by people 18 and under!

Can we presume that Manfred Mann will not be performing in London, given the unsafe environment that one could easily categorize as “people being stabbed in the streets.”

In 2015, there were 19,415 incidents of violent crime in the streets of London. According to police data, “violence” includes “murder, harassment, common assault, bodily harm, and possession of an offensive weapon with intent.” Sounds pretty scary to me. Certainly sounds like “ongoing problems.”

The fact that Manfred Mann is afraid to perform in Tel Aviv because of the situation in the streets but has no problem performing in the streets of the United Kingdom is laughable, when one analyzes the crime and safety index data. (A high crime index indicates higher crime rates, and a high safety index indicates a safe city.) The FBI defines the crimes in the crime index as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

The current crime index in Tel Aviv is 31.43; the safety index is 68.57. In London, the crime index is 48.37 and the safety index is 51.63. So, members of Manfred Mann: which city is the safer one? Which city has more “ongoing problems?” Cities with higher crime indexes and lower safety indexes than London include Birmingham, Manchester, and Nottingham, with the latter at 57.03 in crime and 42.97 in safety! Is the band willing to perform in these cities?

(By the way, if you are searching for a truly safe city in which to perform, you may want to consider Jerusalem, which has a crime index of 26.38 and a safety index of 73.62!)

It is true that three people were killed in the streets of Tel Aviv on January 1 by an Islamic jihadist terrorist. But terrorism can strike anywhere. Let me remind you that less than a month ago, Islamic jihadists Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan, were found guilty of preparing terrorist attacks in London, to be carried out in either a large shopping center or in the subway system.

Let me also remind you that Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley told ITV News that there are not enough police officers to protect the people of London from the ongoing threat of a terrorist attack which the city faces.

I want to be very clear. People who are reading this column should not be afraid, and should continue visiting London and the United Kingdom as I will do. I raise these statistics to demonstrate that Manfred Mann being afraid to perform in Tel Aviv because of “people being shot and beaten to death in the streets” is simply ludicrous. By those standards, they should not perform in any major city in the free world, and certainly not in England.

Which all leads me to one conclusion and Manfred Mann should simply come out and say it straight: they don’t want to perform in Israel because of the anti-Israel forces which promote boycotts and which delegitimize Israel. It is a sad reality that prominent artists such as Manfred Mann fall prey to those pressures.

But we will not let these boycotts break our spirits. We, in Israel, will continue walkin’ down our beautiful and safe streets singin’, “Do wah diddy, diddy, dum diddy do.” And we will do so snappin’ our fingers and shufflin’ our feet with the confidence and happiness that comes with knowing that despite being surrounded on all sides by ruthless killers and terrorists who seek our destruction, the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are among the safest and most secure in the free world.

It’s a shame Manfred Mann won’t be able to experience that.

Their loss.

About the Author
Dov Lipman was elected to the 19th Knesset in January 2013. He is the author of seven books about Judaism and Israel, and holds rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a masters in education from Johns Hopkins University. He has been at the forefront of combating religious extremism in Israel and is a leader in efforts to create Jewish unity both in Israel and around the world. Former MK Lipman is invited to speak on behalf of the Jewish state both in Israel and around the world and serves as a political commentator for i24 News and ILTV. He currently serves as Secretary General for the Confederation of United Zionists.