It’s been a sad year for supporters of the cultural boycott of Israel — and conversely, an excellent year for those of us who believe in artistic freedom and the power of the arts to build bridges for peace.
No artist has canceled a show in Israel due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — a movement that seeks to isolate Israel in the international arena for the ultimate purpose of eliminating it as the Jewish state — since December of 2015, and its supporters are desperate to claim any victory they possibly can.
We at Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) — an organization comprised of prominent members of the entertainment industry dedicated to promoting the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel — are constantly in touch behind the scenes and can confirm that Australian popstar Natalie Imbruglia canceled her March 1, 2017 concert in Tel Aviv for reasons completely unrelated to politics.
However, boycott supporters have continued to claim the opposite, despite the lack of supporting evidence.
“Glad you are giving the snake pit calling itself Israel a body swerve. Well done. Stand up for what is right!” one BDS supporter wrote to Natalie on Twitter.
“Bless you for canceling your show in apartheid Tel Aviv. You’re standing on the side of justice and peace!” another commented on one of her Facebook posts.
Unfortunately, many opponents of the cultural boycott have fallen for it as well.
“Why did you cave in to the forces of hate and racism?” one person asked her on Facebook, assuming that she canceled her show due to BDS.
“I’m disappointed that you canceled your show in Israel and stood with the BDS movement,” another wrote to her on Twitter.
And the press hasn’t helped the situation.
“Australian pop star cancels Israel concert after BDS pressure,” read the headline in Arutz Sheva, strongly and incorrectly implying that there was a causative relationship between the BDS pressure and the cancellation. Other news outlets also mentioned BDS as a potential factor.
As we wrote when Pharrell Williams canceled his July 2016 show in Israel for reasons that had nothing to do with BDS, we must avoid — at all costs — giving cultural boycott supporters undue credit and unnecessarily politicizing music.
In the vast majority of cases, performers don’t schedule shows in Israel to show political support for the country; they do so to perform for their Israeli fans. And in the cases where the shows are canceled, the vast majority are unrelated to politics and are instead due to scheduling conflicts, logistical problems, low ticket sales, or various other personal issues that get in the way of concerts all around the world.
Assuming otherwise, politicizing every performance in Israel and causing an uproar surrounding any and every routine and banal cancellation, can only serve to make artists think twice before scheduling a show there in the first place.
We’ve had an amazing year. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot now.