For the last decade or so there have been ongoing attempts to promote a “cultural” boycott of Israel. These boycotts are typically hosted by music artists trying to show depth of character through endorsing or protesting a particular social or political position. Specifically, the boycotts I am referring to are those of the music concert type, this typically consists of a famous artist calling on his or her fans to stay away from artists who support or frequent Israel. And while this type of campaign has attained relatively few successes, it has managed to receive extensive media exposure disproportionate to its achievements.
Regrettably, I think it would be safe to say that much of the entertainment industry (movie, music, etc.) displays considerable ignorance of the actual political workings “on the ground” in Israel and specifically between Israel and Palestine. But what can you expect from those who obtain their perspective of the world from such shallow sources as TV, internet and social media?
Spewing forth from these artists, like a broken sewer pipe, come a myriad of reasons for their activism. Human rights, social conscience and support for the poor are the main reasons usually mentioned. Of the political variety most artists commonly site patriotism, world peace, or the plight of Palestinians as reasons to boycott a number of other artists or organizations who support Israel.
Just because a pro-boycott site claims that an artist or band has boycotted Israel doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true. However, once you scratch the surface of any boycott “success”, it quickly becomes apparent that ideology, conscience, and support for the Palestinian cause have little to do with their fervor. In truth, the factors leading an artist who does not subscribe to these so called causes to cancel a concert are usually dishonesty, bullying, threats of ruining an artist’s reputation and sales, disrupting shows, sabotage and even death threats.
The Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters recently said, “Regardless of your intentions (referring to a recent concert announcement in Israel by Mick Jagger), crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.” Roger would be an example of a person who clearly doesn’t have the acumen or patience to research and study the actual issues that divide Israel and Palestine but would rather just regurgitate nightly news talking points and sound bites.
Mr. Waters (the author and composer of Pink Floyd’s acclaimed “The Wall” album), wrote the album as a rock opera musing about anti-establishment themes. His comments and stance are somewhat ironic considering that now Waters wants the “The Wall” (a security barrier between Israel and Palestine) to be a symbol of his anti-Israel campaign, when it was actually built to stop the flow of terrorists from Palestine into Israel.
Interestingly, performers of two particular musical genres – punk and heavy metal – have consistently ignored all attempts to be pressured into boycotting Israel. Punk and heavy metal bands are typically founded on a “rage against the machine” mentality. They are fairly politically learned and in turn tend to stave off political manipulation. As such, they are generally capable of seeing through the “human rights” smokescreen of the boycott crusaders and call their bluff.
While boycott proponents would have us believe that their efforts are paying off, this just isn’t the case. Many respected names in music continue to perform in Israel including Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rihanna, Madonna, Moby, the Pet Shop Boys, Aerosmith, Celine Dion, and others.
When an artist does cancel a concert or tour in Israel it is largely followed by a statement articulating one or more sentiments including: a) that the artist conveys no support for the boycott, b) the artist was coerced into the decision, c) the artist had previously performed in Israel, d) despite the cancellation, the artist expressed love for the country and its people.
For example, The Rolling Stones recently announced that they are scheduled to play in Israel in June 2014. Their support for Israel continues, as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was recently quoted as saying: “We’ve been slammed and smacked and twittered a lot by the anti-Israeli side; all I can say is: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. So we decided to add a concert.”
It should go without saying that true and lasting peace would be the goal concerning world relations and specifically those in the middle-east. Understanding and appreciating people of other cultures is crucial to “world peace”. To understand someone or another culture you have to listen to them. However, for us Westerners, we would do well to remember that there is no such thing as a “frenemy”. Unless of course you consider that in the Islamic religion it is okay to lie to your enemies in order to make them think they are a friend.
Lastly, in addition to all of this artist support and even more important, is the unwavering and eternal word of God which says Israel will endure long after you and I are gone from this world. He states, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God.’” Zechariah 8:7-8. Boycott this: Israel will endure!