BDS activists are delighted, after the line-up at an Israeli music festival was thrown into chaos by 11 cancellations, including the American singer Lana Del Rey and Australian DJ Mall Grab.
Organisers of the Meteor Festival were left scrambling around to recruit new acts for their festival, which takes place this weekend. They have lashed out against the BDS movement saying that it has “insanely politicised our event”.
They stressed that the festival is non-political, and said that they “aspire to transcend cultural and political differences with an event that welcomes everyone”.
But the BDS lobby, and its most prominent artist Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, placed heavy pressure on many of the foreign acts that were on the line-up, and the cancellations began. American electronic musician Shlohmo cited Israeli “atrocities”. American DJ Volvox said that festival organisers had the “best intentions” but she cancelled because of the complexity of the conflict.
Del Rey’s decision attracted the most publicity – and caused the most excitement among anti-Israel activists. The Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural Boycott of Israel lauded the “principled decision” which left the Meteor Festival in the Galilee without its most talked-about act. The BDS movement claimed that she “listened to fans who insist that artists should never let their music be used to cover up gross violations of human rights”.
Meanwhile, the music industry was split, with some lauding her decision and others criticising it.
Del Rey’s decision is particularly stinging for Israeli music fans, as Del Rey appeared to have embraced the argument that musicians shouldn’t shun a country because of objections to state policies. Her concert was not to be “not a political statement or a commitment to the politics there”, just as singing in California does not equal an embrace for the Trump administration.
Del Rey had even suggested that “a singer with a loving energy” can help “shift the energetic vibration of a location for the higher good”. Music, she had insisted, “is universal and should be used to bring us together.
But the pressure intensified, including from Waters, and Del Rey pulled out as final preparations were being made for the festival. Boy George said she was “wrong to cancel”, questioning how her stand made a difference.
Instead of admitting capitulation to the BDS movement, Del Rey presented her decision as a postponement until she could play parallel concerts for Israeli and Palestinian fans. She announced: “It’s important to me to perform in both Palestine and Israel and treat all my fans equally … therefore, I’m postponing my appearance at the Meteor Festival.”
The anti-BDS activist Michael Dickson told The AJN that he believes Del Rey will end up playing Israel when she arranges a Palestinian concert, but said that “the bullying tactics of antisemitic, anti-Israel activists” did succeed in derailing this weekend’s appearance.
Dickson, executive director of StandWithUs in Israel, said of BDS activists: “Each time they target an artist, it becomes more and more apparent that their behaviour is shameful and their propaganda is full of lies.”
He noted that Del Rey was encouraged to keep her Israel commitment by some music industry executives, and said that despite pressure it has been a “great year for live music concerts in Israel”.