Amid controversy that has flared recently over calls for cultural boycotts agains Israel, the bands the Pixies and Soundgarden have been booked to play in June at a rock festival at a stadium in Tel Aviv, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.
Boycotts have long been a political pressure tactic advocated by some of the most intense critics of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, and debate has intensified with this month’s call by the American Studies Assn., a national group of more than 5,000 U.S. educators, for an academic boycott of conferences and events sponsored by Israeli universities.
The Pixies are well acquainted with the volatile politics surrounding more than 65 years of Israeli-Palestinian strife. Booked to play in Israel in June 2010, the band canceled its show within a week of a deadly late-May Israeli naval raid on a flotilla of ships manned by pro-Palestinian Turkish activists. The activists were trying to break an Israeli blockade and bring supplies to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian-controlled coastal area from which repeated rocket attacks had been launched against Israeli territory. The confrontation left nine activists dead and brought a global outcry against Israel.
The Pixies apologized for the 2010 cancellation in a statement addressed to Israeli fans, saying that “events beyond our control have conspired against us. We can only hope for better days, in which we will finally present the long-awaited visit of the Pixies in Israel.”
Former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters issued a call last August for rock musicians to shun Israel, which he accused of committing “the crime of apartheid” and “the crime of ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. In published statements, Waters and American novelist Alice Walker unsuccessfully urged Alicia Keys to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv last July.
According to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake are booked to perform in Israel in 2014, but Beyonce had “frozen negotiations" until March over a possible concert there.
Rihanna performed two months ago for a reported crowd of 50,000 at a park in Tel Aviv, and Madonna opened a 2012 world tour in Israel with what she called a “Concert for Peace.”
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