I wonder what our prayers sound like to God during these Days of Awe. As the earth spins on its axis and Jews across the globe gather together to worship, I imagine that God hears our longings as a symphony – each soul a note, singular, exceptional, and essential to the whole. Our hearts, the instruments; our words, music to God’s ears.
When the shofar sounds and our voices float heavenward, we give great reflection to, among other things, the power of something uniquely human: the power of speech. We ask for forgiveness for mistakes that originate as often from our lips as from our deeds. We repent for words that are negative, meaningless, traitorous, foolish, vulgar, and deceitful, for we understand the eternal truth in King Solomon’s observation, “Life and death are in the hands of the tongue” [Proverbs 18:21]
The very idea of prayer, however, recognizes the power of speech not just to harm, but to uplift and transform. We uplift and transform ourselves with prayer, each other with kind words, and the world through art.
Art, the universal language, touches us all; atheist and Orthodox, Christian, Muslim, and Jew. It is both earthly and divine; the gift of creation from the Creator.
Tragically, today, art is under siege. With the cultural Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) effort against Israel, politically motivated organizations and individuals in free western societies are using censorship as a strategy to advance their agenda.
Proponents of the cultural boycott want to prevent international audiences from experiencing Israeli art and want to cut the flow of world art going into Israel. They want to bar films from festivals, silence instruments, and take canvases off walls.
The risk posed to mankind goes far beyond Israel’s borders or the lineage of the Jewish people. Boycott proponents have orchestrated a social media and on-the-ground campaign of intimidation that, left unchecked, poses an existential threat to the freedom of artistic expression.
Art is integral to the human experience. It is a connective tissue between people and places. It simultaneously reflects the world in which we live and serves as a vehicle for change.
Artists challenge us, bring us together, and provide a bedrock for peace.
From the poetry of King David, to the writings of postmodern linguist Ludwig Wittgenstein, traditions both spiritual and secular recognize art’s unique ability to help us understand the world around us in profoundly deep ways that extend beyond the capacity of mere conscious thought.
A song can elevate a moment; a book can inspire one’s mind to new thinking. With a human’s breath, the ram’s horn shatters hearts of stone and washes away layers of complacency. Its call is capable of bringing us back to places inside ourselves impenetrable by any other means.
The proximate target of the boycott effort is Israel, but freedom of artistic expression, fundamental to our humanity, is its ultimate victim.
It is tricky to assess the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. On the one hand, one does not want to underestimate the damage to Israel’s reputation done by even unsuccessful campaigns. The campus boycott movement, about which I have written extensively, succeeds not only when students actually vote to divest but also when onlookers, who have no dog in the fight between pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists, come away with the impression that Zionism is, if not a dirty word, at least suspect. We have been fortunate that BDS has done so much of late to discredit itself, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the campaign’s potential.
At the same time, BDS thrives on the appearance of momentum. Even in the midst of astonishing losses, like the most unlikely one it suffered at the hands of the Modern Language Association, BDS does its best to make it appear as though it is on the right side of history and history is coming at us faster and faster. We do not want to do the work of BDS propagandists for them by making it seem as if they are gaining momentum when they are not.
With those considerations concerning campus boycotts in mind, I welcomed Lana Melman’s injunction over at Algemeiner not to underestimate the parallel cultural boycott of Israel. As Melman pointed out, that movement has its ups and downs. Sometimes a rock star like Elvis Costello decides not to play Israel. Sometimes, resisting considerable pressure, other rock stars, like the Rolling Stones and, most recently, Radiohead, perform there. Arguably, 2017 was a good year in this regard. But, as with academic BDS, the cultural boycott succeeds when artists are compelled to question whether Israel is a place they can, or even should, do business.
Roger Waters isn’t given the opportunity to discuss his anti-Israel activism in the US media or on late-night talk shows because of a conspiracy to silence him. This claim comes from an interview that the former Pink Floyd bassist gave to the Russian outlet RT, as reported by the Independent.
Do you think that the cultural boycott campaign against Israel is a colossal failure?
Scotland’s Sunday Herald recently published an open letter signed by artists, media workers and academics that called for a boycott against Israeli artists at Edinburgh’s “Fringe Festival,” the largest performing arts festival in the world.
This is the third such letter by artists in twice as many weeks.
Previously, more than 50 artists called for Radiohead to cancel its concert in Israel, and dozens of high-profile members of the theater community asked Lincoln Center to scrap the performance of an anti-war Israeli play.
While the cancellations of scheduled concerts in Israel due to boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) pressure peak and valley, pressure on international venues to rescind invitations to Israeli artists by other artists is growing.
Regardless of whether a boycott campaign results in a cancellation, Israel’s reputation is damaged by the mere efforts alone — which slander Israel in the international media and other forums.
The disturbing drumbeat of international artists urging the boycott of Israeli artists should concern us all.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington produced a video criticizing music artist Roger Waters’ support of the BDS movement against Israel.
The video was released Friday, ahead of Waters’ scheduled concerts over the weekend at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Activists in other cities also are targeting his upcoming shows, including in Nashville and Philadelphia, the Washington Post reported.
The days of Israelis remaining silent are over
In the summer of 2014 a group of Israeli actors flew to perform in the Edinburgh festival.
BDS activists caused a storm outside of the hall where the actors performed and the festival management gave in and cancelled all of their 29 performances.
This week, the actors accompanied by Reservists on Duty volunteers, are returning to Edinburgh to perform in the festival, and to protest against the BDS.
We will be there, but we need YOU.
Share this video and tag friends, family and people you know from the UK.
Call them to come to the festival and support us.
Teenagers slated to perform alongside Pink Floyd star Roger Waters have backed out of the event amid accusations of anti-Semitism against the band’s co-founder.
Twelve members of a Miami Beach Parks summer program were supposed to have a dress rehearsal with the band, receive autographed photos, sit in the orchestra pit for the show and perform“Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” on stage alongside Waters.
The singer selected the 12 teens from Ayuda Miami’s T.A.L.L. (Teens Are Life Long Learners) program and the Teen Club Miami Beach to join him onstage.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, however, Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said the teenagers would no longer be participating.
From the statement: “Miami Beach is a culturally diverse community and does not tolerate any form of hate.”
In an online ad placed on miamiherald.com, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation wrote: “Anti-Semitism and Hatred are Not Welcome in Miami.” It linked to a message on the group’s website that stated: “Mr. Waters, your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in this community.”
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League criticized Waters’ “Jewish imagery” in his concerts, including a Star of David on a floating pig alongside “a dollar sign and a sickle and hammer.” In a Facebook post, Waters wrote that the star serves as Israel’s national symbol and saying his criticism was meant for policy, not religion.
“I am anti-war, anti-apartheid, anti-racist, pro human rights, pro peace and pro self-determination for all peoples,” Waters wrote. “I am not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.”
A spokeswoman for the Miami Heat, which operates the arena, declined to comment Thursday. Miami-Dade owns the arena, and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation published a statement from Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
“I urge our Miami-Dade residents to uphold the values we hold dear and to reject anti-Semitism in all its forms,” Gimenez said in a statement that a spokesman said was provided to the Jewish Federation at the group’s request. “Not only because it would offend our Jewish residents, but because it would offend all Miamians.
Miami Herald staff writer Doug Hanks contributed to this report.
Theater artists boycotting theater at the Lincoln Center
An open letter published by the anti-Israel group Adalah-NY and signed by over sixty artists has asked the Lincoln Center to cancel scheduled performances of David Grossman’s play To the End of the Land.
The signatories include, among others, the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwrights Tracy Letts, Lynn Nottage, and Annie Baker; the acclaimed director Sam Gold; actress Greta Gerwig;musician, Roger Waters; and the playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and his My Dinner with Andre costar Andre Gregory.
Their call for a boycott is not based on the content of the play which has an anti-war message. Instead, they are calling for a cancellation because they do not agree with the policies of the Israeli government.
The Lincoln Center has wisely and firmly denied the request to cancel.
This growing support among artists for a cultural boycott of Israel creates a clear and present danger to the creative community itself.
Cultural boycotts beget cultural boycotts.
Artists who support cultural boycotts may soon be targeted themselves. Witness a new petition to boycott musician, Roger Waters, the self-anointed leader of the boycott pack which at the time of this writing has over 4600 signatures.
In addition, The Israel Group has initiated a campaign to boycott the signatories to the Lincoln Center as well as other Israel boycott supporters such as Emma Thompson and Stephen Hawking.
The artist community has long recognized the importance of the US funded National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).
Just a few months ago, when there was concern that support for the NEA might be eliminated in the new federal budget, members of the community voiced their opposition in national publications across the country. They championed fiscal support for the arts as essential to cultural exchange and a lynchpin of democracy. They linked government sponsorship to the future of freedom of artistic expression.
At no time did anyone in the artist community lobby for a defunding of the program because they disagreed with the policies of the present US administration.
If lack of government funding for the arts erodes freedom of artistic expression and cultural exchange; surely, cultural boycotts do far more so.
That which is most treasured by the artist community – freedom of expression and cultural exchange – is being undermined by the community itself.
Boycotting artists from one country because the rest of the world doesn’t like the policies of its leadership sets a precedent that can easily be applied to others.
To the signatories of the Lincoln Center letter, I say be careful what you wish for.
This time at a fine art exhibition in northern Israel. Less than a month ago Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ film festival saw 4 cancellations due to boycott pressure. Arab boycotts of the Wonder Woman movie (because of its star, Gal Gadot, is Israeli) continue to percolate.
BDS’s most recent target is the Mediterranean Biennale, an art event is to create a platform for dialogue and coexistence through art. The artists who asked to have their works removed are of Algerian, Moroccan and Lebanese descent, though they currently reside in France and England.
Another artist participating in this biennial art exhibit promoting peace puts a fine point on it, open “I get it: If these artists show in Israel, and their friends find out, they’ll ask questions.”
I remember how I felt when I first saw Paradise Now the 2006 Academy Award nominated film about two Palestinian men solicited for a terrorist attack on Tel Aviv.
At the end of the movie, one of the two men enters a bus teeming with Israeli life – soldiers, the elderly, children on their way to school – and takes a seat. The camera holds on the man’s face as his unseen fingers reach for a cord that takes the lives of the innocent.
But there is no explosion. No cries from the victims. No desperate shouts from the rescuers. The camera simply cuts to a white screen and silence. For the filmmaker and the audience, the story is over.
It’s not over, I thought. The story doesn’t end when the cord is pulled. It’s not a bus that gets blown apart, but lives.
How do the survivors cope? How do they pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward? What about terror’s other victims – the people left behind?
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is pressuring the Lebanon government to ban the new Wonder Woman movie to be released this June 2.
Why? Because the heroine is played by Israeli superstar, Gal Gadot.
Other classic villains seeking to destroy Wonder Woman, a founding member of the Justice League and warrior princess of the Amazonian people, include Doctor Poison, Doctor Psycho and Giganta.
BDS fits right in with this crew.
All this on the heels of the recent announcement that four overseas filmmakers have cancelled their attendance at the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival due to boycott pressure. The festival is scheduled to open on Thursday and run through June 10.
Will this latest BDS campaign hurt Wonder Woman’s box office receipts? No. People all over the world will line up to see Gal Gadot, who is receiving much praise for her performance.
The cultural boycott campaign, however, seeks to do battle on two different fronts. The first front is the Israeli psyche. Their effort is designed to weaken the Israeli people by making them feel isolated and shunned.
The second front is the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. By cashing in on the publicity generated by cultural events such as this sure to be blockbuster film, BDS can spread their toxic propaganda and attempt to poison millions across the planet.
A classic plot in comic books. Not surprising coming from BDS proponents who’s false claim of human rights advocacy is a big joke.
Fortunately, Wonder Woman, the avatar of truth, justice and the Amazonian way will sleigh evil in this battle both on and off screen.
But stay tuned good people of the earth. This war is not over.
I remember how I felt when I first saw Paradise Now the 2006 Academy Award nominated film about two Palestinian men solicited for a terrorist attack on Tel Aviv.
At the end of the movie, one of the two men enters a bus teeming with Israeli life — soldiers, the elderly, children on their way to school — and takes a seat. The camera holds on the man’s face as his unseen fingers reach for a cord that takes the lives of the innocent.
But there is no explosion. No cries from the victims. No desperate shouts from the rescuers. The camera simply cuts to a white screen and silence. For the filmmaker and the audience, the story is over.
It’s not over, I thought. The story doesn’t end when the cord is pulled. It doesn’t end with the mangled bodies, the search for the missing, the identification of the victims, the burying of the dead.
It’s not a bus that gets blown apart, but lives. The attack deprives children of their parents and robs parents of a piece of their future. It lingers in the fear and loss that ripples through families and neighbors and a country.
How do the survivors cope? How do they pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward?
What about terror’s other victims – the people left behind?
Watch comic, Avi Liberman talk about “Comedy for Koby” healing hearts of the survivors in Liberate Art’s exclusive video interview.
After terrorists brutally murdered their 13-year-old son, Koby Mandell and his friend, Yosef Ishran, while they were hiking in the hills by their home in 2001, the Mandell family knew immediately that the tragedy of Koby’s loss could easily destroy them.
To go on, Koby’s father, Seth, a rabbi, and his mother, Sherri, an author and journalist, needed to transform the cruelty of Koby’s death into acts of kindness and hope. For that reason, they created the Koby Mandell Foundation which provides healing programs for families struck by terrorism and tragedy.
It’s big task to lift a spirit, and the Mandells don’t do it alone. They have the support of Los Angeles-based comic and writer, Avi Liberman, who helps them raise funds for their life-affirming work.
Liberman was first inspired to lift hearts with comedy during a visit to the Jewish homeland in the midst of the Second Intifada in 2002. Born in Israel and raised in Texas, Liberman is now firmly anchored in Tinseltown. So, he did what many of us do, he reached out to his friends and asked them to help.
Today, Liberman, together with Nancy Spielberg and DJW productions, brings top name comics to Israel twice a year in his “Comedy for Koby” tours with all profits going to the Mandell Foundation.
Once there, the comics see more than the inside of a comedy club, they see the country and meet its people. When they return home, they are emissaries for the Jewish state, sharing their experiences with the world.
The Comedy for Koby tour returns to Israel May 25 – 29 with comic superstars, Brian Regan and Joe Bolster.
Nearly 50 artists, including Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, Julie Christie and Mike Leigh, recently signed an open letter to the English rock band Radiohead, urging them to cancel their upcoming concert in Israel — and to support the cultural boycott against the Jewish state.
In addition to the anti-Israel “regulars,” some new artists joined the signatories this time, including the hip-hop group Young Fathers.
The open letter was widely reported on in both music and mainstream publications, including Pitchfork, the Washington Times, Vulture and Yahoo News.
These reports, with rare exception, quoted heavily from the letter’s false accusations about Israeli apartheid and human rights violations, without any semblance of a counter-argument to these charges.
In reality, Israel is an open, liberal democracy that guarantees equal rights to all of its citizens. Hundreds of artists who visit or perform there every year speak glowingly about the Jewish state, despite the harassment they receive from the likes of Roger Waters and mostly ill-intended grassroots groups.
In its article, Pitchfork, a popular music magazine that bills itself as “the most trusted name in music,” created the illusion of a wave of support for a cultural boycott of Israel by musicians and artists.
The story conveniently neglected to mention even a handful of the high-profile artists who have rejected the call to boycott Israel — including Madonna, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Bon Jovi, Claire Danes, Helen Mirren, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Ricky Martin, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Quentin Tarantino, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Seal, Kevin Costner, Cyndi Lauper, Yanni, DJ Tiesto, Moby, Elton John and Bob Dylan — to name but a few.
The Pitchfork article also failed to balance the negative comments made by the letter’s signatories with even a smattering of positive descriptions, such as one by Madonna, calling Israel “the spiritual center of the world,” or by Jay Leno, who describes Israel as “this one little paradise in the Middle East where freedom reigns.” Pitchfork also failed to mention Paul McCartney, who kept his concert date in Israel despite threats against him.
Just two days after the circulation of the open letter,the chief pop–music critic at the New York Timesinterviewed Roger Waters, as part of the TimesTalks series of conversations with 21st-century “talents and thinkers.”
In the question-and-answer session, Waters admitted that the open letter fell on deaf ears, and that Radiohead remained committed to performing in Israel in July.
But those same publications that breathlessly reported about the boycott letter were inexcusably quiet about this new announcement.
When news outlets publicize calls for the cultural boycott of Israel and fail to provide balance, they are not sharing a news story; instead, they are helping to spread misinformation, lies and propaganda.
Last week close to 50 artists, including Roger Waters, Julie Christie, Mike Leigh,and Tunde Adebimpe, the lead singer of TV on the Radio, signed an open letter to English rock band, Radiohead, urging them to cancel their upcoming concert in Israel in support of the cultural boycott.
In addition to the anti-Israel “regulars,” some new artists joined the signatories including the hip-hop group, Young Fathers.
The open letter was widely reported on in both music and mainstream publications including Pitchfork, The Washington Times, Vulture and Yahoo News.
These reports, with rare exception, quoted heavily from the letter’s false accusations of Israeli apartheid and human rights violations without any semblance of a counter argument to its charges.
Several members of the entertainment community wrote letters to the editors, including Liberate Art and music lawyer, Ari Ingel[Read], of De Novo Music Group.
Letter to the Editors of Pitchfork Music Magazine Mark Richardson, Executive Editor Ryan Dombal, Senior Editor
Dear Ryan and Mark,
I have worked in the music industry as an attorney and manager for the past 15 years, and as a fan and regular reader of Pitchfork, I was very disappointed to see your coverage of the Roger Waters and BDS movement led boycott of Israel being faced by Radiohead in your April 24th article written by Matthew Strauss.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a complex issue with a long, complicated, history that has gone through many ups and downs, with wrongs committed by both sides. It is a far too complex an issue to cover in a mere 296 word article on your site or in this email to you. By publishing your article with a byline that read “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over,” you in essence supported the boycott of Israel, and gave credence to the BDS movement, by providing your readership with a drastically one-sided view of events. A splash headline that undoubtedly left a negative impression of Israel on your readers.
As someone who was born in Apartheid South Africa and later fled the country in the early 1980’s due to the government’s atrocious policies, I understand what it means to live under Apartheid. What is happening in the Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza is not Apartheid, far from it. Groups such as the BDS movement use the “Apartheid” label since it immediately conjures images of a racist regime that the world condemned and can quickly rationalize in their mind. These groups use the term because they know it plays into the hands of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda. It’s a calculated marketing ploy, not a factual reality.
In South Africa, a black woman would be arrested for merely having a man in her bedroom in a white neighborhood after dark. In South Africa, blacks were not allowed to be taught in English. In South Africa, blacks held no power in parliament and could not sit on the highest courts as judges. In Israel, it is the exact opposite. Arabs living in Israel can move freely around the country, sleeping wherever and with whomever they like, even after dark. Arabs in Israel and the territories are allowed to be taught in any language they choose and both have access to well regard intuitions of higher learning. In Israel, Arabs are not only members of Parliament, but also sit on the nations Supreme Court. The list goes on and on.
I urge you to also recall that Hamas, a designated terrorist and Islamic Fundamentalist group by America, controls the Gaza Strip after staging a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007. This is after Israel pulled out all its settlements and the settlers from Gaza and handed the territory over to the Palestinians with plans of an airport and giant new seaport. Instead of creating a bastion of peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people in this “occupied” territory, Hamas waged war against its own people, took over and began launching rockets into Israel. This in turn caused Israel and Egypt, an Islamic and Arab country itself, to both carefully control the border crossing to the territory. Egypt does not need Israel’s permission to allow goods, services and people to freely cross back and forth at its border crossing with Gaza, but it limits access precisely because Gaza is controlled by a terrorist group that uses the territory to destabilize the region.
I am not sending you this to argue that Israel has committed no crimes against the Palestinians, but the Palestinians have committed the same against the Jews and Israelis. Such is the nature of a complicated conflict, particularly one that has been raging for more than 100 years. The Palestinians have been offered a full-fledged state on at least three separate occasions (in 1947 by the United Nations, in 2000 by PM Barak and President Bill Clinton and then in 2008 by PM Olmert) and the Palestinians turned it down every time. As Bill Clinton stated in his biography: “Arafat’s rejection of my proposal after Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions.” You can read all about those 2000 peace talks in Bill Clinton’s own words at the link below, and I urge you and your readers to do so:
Once again, as it pertains to your article, you have presented your readers with a biased and one-sided view of a complex issue that will cause further hatred of Israel instead of better understanding of the situation. For instance, just last week the new leader of Hamas in Gaza lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for cutting salaries to workers and cutting energy supply to the Gaza Strip to exert pressure on Hamas, while at the same time stating that they are not seeking a war with Israel. As I said, complicated.
Pitchfork knows as well as anyone, music has the power to heal and to bring people to together. Everyone should champion a group such as Radiohead visiting Israel to help heal through music, playing for Arabs and Jews alike. Because despite what the BDS movement wants you to believe, there will be people of all faiths and nationalities at the show. In fact, on their current US tour, Radiohead has one Jewish and one Arab group opening for them. Instead of condemning a live show by a band like Radiohead and trying to silence music, you should be promoting the exact opposite.
Contrary to Roger Waters‘ claim at the NYT TimesTalk, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign did not originate as a Palestinian civil movement; the campaign and its rhetoric are tailored to resonate with the West.
Ilan Pappe makes it clear that a critical component of the BDS movement is to keep this myth/lie alive. And for anyone not aware, Ilan Pappe is a rabid anti-Israel propagandist. The fact that this came out of his mouth is extremely telling.
Your report on an open letter from artists Roger Waters, Thurston Moore and others urging Radiohead to cancel their July performance in Tel Aviv is not so much sharing a news story as it is helping to spread misinformation and propaganda.
The article repeats slanderous accusations against Israel and creates the false illusion of a wave of support for a cultural boycott by artists. Subtitled, “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over,” the article quotes extensively from the open letter but fails to provide balance or any semblance of a counter argument to its charges.
In fact, Israel is an open, liberal democracy that guarantees equal rights to all its citizens. Hundreds of artists who visit or perform there every year speak glowingly about the Jewish state, despite the harassment they receive by the likes of Roger Waters and, mostly ill-intended, grassroots groups.
Pitchfork conveniently neglects to mention even a handful of the high-profile artists who have rejected the call to boycott including Madonna, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Bon Jovi, Claire Danes, Helen Mirren, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Ricky Martin, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Quentin Tarantino, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Seal, Kevin Costner, Cyndi Lauper, Yanni, DJ Tiesto, Moby, Elton John and Bob Dylan to name a few.
It also fails to balance the negative comments by musician Thurston Moore with even a smattering of positive descriptions such as one by Madonna who calls Israel “the spiritual center of the world” and Jay Leno who describes Israel as “this one little paradise in the Middle East where freedom reigns.” Not to mention Paul McCartney who kept his concert date in Israel despite threats.
Pitchfork, which bills itself “as the most trusted name in music” would do well to look before it leaps into bed with those who seek to silence artists in order to impose their political will on millions.
We will never forget the past; we will fight to protect the future.
During the Holocaust, man’s darkest hour, art reflected both grim reality and hope for tomorrow.
Liberate Art would like to thank everyone who attended our exclusive NYC event for caring and working to make a difference.
This meeting brought together key members of the entertainment industry and leaders of the pro-Israel community who were eager to learn new strategies to combat the cultural boycott campaign against Israel.
Here are some comments from attendees after the event.
“Great presentation! Informative, inspiring and thought-provoking. Your hands-on experience countering the cultural boycott offers a unique perspective and important new tools to win this battle. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.” – Andrew Genger, Red Light Management
“Liberate Art is an important movement fighting the cultural boycott against Israel and positively impacting artists and celebrities. And Lana Melman is the inspiring advocate championing the movement.” Alicia Post, American Zionist Movement
In today’s world, Israel is under fire from all directions. Liberate Art Inc. is raising awareness and providing tools to help people combat the newest and potentially most dangerous weapon against the Jewish state – the cultural boycott of Israel.
Here is a snapshot of my last event in NYC: COUNTERING THE CULTURAL BOYCOTT AGAINST ISRAEL by Lana Melman, CEO of Liberate Art Inc
“Providing new strategies to combat the cultural boycott against Israel.”
Lana Melman Presenting
With Shlomit Revi – Shlomit & RebbeSoul
With Andrew Genger Red Light Management
With Sarit Catz – CAMERA
With Craig Lawrence – musician
Ryan Griffin & Ben Sweetwood from Maccabee Task Force
Joe Hollander, Brown University Hillel – President and Ralph Alterbaum
With Yudi Hercenberg – Deerwood Real Estate Capital
The cultural boycott is the one aspect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign that even Israel’s most passionate advocates often know little about. And if they’re not aware, they can’t take action to fight it.
Liberate Art is taking to the air waves to get the word out and give people the tools to effectively counter the cultural boycott against Israel.
Lana Melman, CEO of Liberate Art Inc, talks at the Mike Siegel Radio Show about why members in Hollywood and elsewhere from the entertainment industry are doing more to stop the cultural boycott against Israel.
Aggressive competition among promoters is bringing many big-name acts to Israel and creating a booming concert market, but the high cost of flying in the crews, security and expensive insurance policies keep ticket prices steep.
A few months ago, concert promoter Gad Oron flew to London to meet with Radiohead’s agent and manager, to try to convince the English rock band to play a concert in Israel. “They told me, ‘Israel? There’s no way right now.’ And now, not so long afterwards, another company has managed to get them here. Hats off to them,” says Oron, who has been bringing artists from abroad to Israel for more than 30 years.
In this particular battle, Oron was trumped by Naranjah, an upstart production company in the business since 2009 owned by promoter Eran Arieli, that before Radiohead had mostly imported much smaller musical acts. Radiohead’s concert will take place in July in Hayarkon Park.
The concert scene in Israel has lately become crowded and competitive. While the market used to be dominated by a few big producers who brought in a relatively small number of big acts from abroad, often earning complaints about the high prices being charged to see artists long past their prime, in the last few years the market has been changing and opening up. New production companies have been popping up, and besides increasing the number of concerts, they are bringing current top artists who are adding Israel to their official tour schedules.
The veteran concert promoters here include Shuki Weiss, who has brought the Pixies, Nick Cave, R.E.M., David Bowie, Morrissey and Madonna; Oron, who brought Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Martin, Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber and Elton John; Udi Appelboim, who brought Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Tom Jones; the Tzemach family, who brought Enrique Iglesias, the Scorpions and Simon & Garfunkel; and the Zappa Group (over the past 15 years), which brought the Pet Shop Boys, Mark Ronson and Suede. Besides Naranjah, the new production companies include Bluestone (run by Guy Beser and Shay Mor Yosef), which is responsible for bringing artists like Rihanna, Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith.
Bluestone recently joined up with businessman Guy Oseary, who has worked with Madonna and others, to found Ticketmaster Israel – the local section of the world’s largest digital ticket-selling platform. Meanwhile, American entertainment giant Live Nation acquired a controlling share of Bluestone’s subsidiary, Bluestone Entertainment.
Due to the large number of promoters relative to the small Israeli market, the competition among them has often turned fierce, and has allegedly involved underhanded tactics at times – such as attempts to scuttle deals, fabricated offers being sent to artists abroad with the aim of raising prices, or the spreading of rumors that a rival producer cannot be trusted to make the necessary payments.
“Young and bold new players have gradually been getting into the market, and making offers to artists. There’s a lot of competition, which means the audiences and artists benefit,” says Oron. Beser of Bluestone says, “It’s a highly competitive market, and sometimes you see blows below the belt.”
All the competition also means a lack of coordination among promoters. This summer, there will be three shows aimed at a similar audience – Nick Cave, the Pixies and Radiohead, which will all vie for ticket-buyers’ money and affections. The addition of shows by Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses means this summer’s competition will be especially tough, with all the promoters hoping to sell enough tickets to recoup their high costs. While such concerns are natural, for now it appears they have little to fear. Some 30,000 tickets have already been sold for Radiohead, and second shows have been added for the Pixies and Nick Cave.
479 shekels in Israel, 239 shekels in Glasgow
Big competition usually works to the benefit of consumers and causes prices to drop. The promoters do think that prices have begun to go down here, but the costs of bringing acts to Israel are still higher than in Europe and America.
A price comparison we did of shows abroad by artists due to perform in Israel soon found a disparity of 5-50 percent in basic ticket prices. For example, a ticket to Radiohead’s show in Israel cost 429 shekels in the pre-sale (these 25,000 are already sold out) and the current ticket price is 479 shekels. Tickets to the band’s Miami show on March 30 start at the equivalent of 246 shekels. Tickets to their June show in Florence start at 275 shekels, and for the Glasgow show in July, 10 days before the Tel Aviv gig, just 239 shekels.
Tickets for the Guns N’ Roses show in Hayarkon Park start at 355 shekels for lawn seats (295 shekels for Leumicard holders), but if you catch the band in Munich, you’ll only pay 328 shekels. In Australia, you’d pay 230 shekels, and in St. Louis, just 226 shekels. Tickets for Aerosmith’s show in Hayarkon Park start at 295 shekels, but go for just 220 shekels in Moscow.
The disparity in ticket prices for Nick Cave was the smallest that we found. A ticket to his Tel Aviv show starts at 234 shekels, compared to 224 shekels for his Detroit show and 168 shekels for his Boston show.
Naranjah cites high production costs to explain the ticket prices for Radiohead, but says that “given the high costs of transporting equipment and personnel from Europe and back, and the very high standards of the show, this is on average a low price for a park show of this magnitude. At last, Israel is getting a concert by one of the most important bands in the history of music, a band that is at its artistic and commercial height. Everyone will have the same chance to be close to the stage, unlike what usually happens with shows of this scale.”
High-priced concession stands
The promoters say ticket prices are higher in Israel due to the uniquely high costs involved: flying all the crew and equipment to Israel, erecting the concert venue and the expensive insurance. Yoni Feingold of the Zappa Group points out that when an artist does a European tour, he travels from city to city with tour buses and trucks. “To bring them to Israel, you have to fly everyone here and put them up, and fly in all the equipment, and it jacks up the costs,” he says.
Oron agrees. “In Europe, Radiohead moves from one country to another every other day. After the show everyone gets on buses and travels to the next city, so they can do several shows in the space of a week. In Israel, it takes two days just to do the setup, and the show only happens on the third or fourth day. And then they have to go back – so it’s just one show for the week, and that costs money.”
“The costs of setting up a show are huge,” says Beser. “In Hayarkon Park there is no infrastructure, so before every show you have to build everything from scratch – fencing, stage, electric lines, the backstage area. It’s not like in Europe, where there are big outdoor concert venues that have all the production infrastructure in place, and all you need to build is the stage. Also, insurance costs in Israel are high because of terrorism and wars. For the Bon Jovi show, we paid nearly half a million shekels just for insurance.”
Oron also mentions the sound and lighting companies. “In Europe they make a deal with the artist to do three months of shows, and here they only get to work a few times a month, so their costs are higher.”
The fees demanded by artists can also raise costs. A top artist can ask for anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million, and artists sometimes want their fee to be based a percentage of the producers’ profits. The increased competition among Israeli promoters has also led to a spike in artists’ fees.
On average, the cost of bringing a successful artist here can reach up to 10 million shekels. Bluestone says they invested 16 million shekels to bring Rihanna, and a similar amount for Bon Jovi.
To cover the costs, promoters need to sell at least 30,000-40,000 tickets. According to Beser, producing a show at Hayarkon Park is generally the most expensive. “Just to cover the costs of a show there, you have to sell 38,000-43,000 tickets,” he says.
There is disagreement over the number of potential ticket-buyers in the country. Oron estimates there are just 100,000-150,000. Beser, says, however: “We’re not in Europe, but I think there are at least 400,000 potential ticket-buyers. About 50,000 people come to a show in the park. If there were only 100,000 buyers, there’d only be two shows a year, but that’s not the case.”
One cannot help wondering if the cut the promoters take doesn’t play a part as well. “It’s true prices are relatively high here, but the promoters sweat blood over the whole production,” says Boaz Cohen of radio station 88FM. “They’re taking a huge risk each time they bring an artist here. A promoter could end up taking home 4 million shekels, or he could end up losing his home.”
Oron says the stories about artists’ bizarre demands are more legend than reality. “I’ve been in this business since the 1980s and back then artists’ demands were a big deal, because we didn’t have a lot of things here. I remember someone requested Remy Martin cognac and I had no idea where to find it. And the artists today are pretty modest, they don’t have all that craziness. Seinfeld requested a certain kind of mineral water that wasn’t sold in Israel. We found someone who was able to arrange it. But it’s not like Seinfeld would have got up and left if I would have brought him [local brand] Mei Eden.”
It’s been years since music lovers in Israel have had the opportunity to enjoy so many performers from overseas. A partial list of artists scheduled to perform here this summer includes Radiohead, the Pixies, Justin Bieber, Aerosmith, Guns and Roses, Rod Stewart, Nick Cave, Tears for Fears, Grandaddy, Jose Gonzalez, Fatboy Slim, Jean-Michel Jarre, Paul Young, Vanessa Mae, Emir Kusturica and Ace of Base. The list could include other top performers who have had good runs in Israel in recent years, including the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alice Cooper, Rihanna, Sia and Elton John.
It’s true that along with this glittering array there were also some resounding cancellations, one of the more memorable ones being that of the Pixies’ concert in 2010 only a few days before their performance, shortly after Israel’s fatal takeover of the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara. Since that cancellation they have performed in Israel again.
This story deserves to be shared. It’s set in 2002, in the midst of the second intifada, when artists were cancelling trips and concert dates in Israel. Many cancelled due to legitimate security concerns, while some bowed out due to political pressure.
Jazz musician Steven Hancoff, however, decided “to bring solace, support, and great music to people for whom terror has turned life into ongoing crisis and fear.”
This letter encapsulates one musician’s story and message.
In today’s world, Israel is under fire from all directions. The newest and potentially most dangerous weapon against the Jewish homeland is the CULTURAL BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN.
The cultural boycott seeks to intimidate artists who want to perform in Israel and uses the social media reach of artists to spread false and damaging messages about the Jewish homeland.
The cultural boycott is more than an attack on Israel; it’s an attack on freedom of artistic expression that affects everyone . Learn More
Liberate Art’s CEO, Lana Melman, has spoken with over one-thousand artists and/or their representatives, and has been instrumental in preventing numerous cancellations of scheduled concerts and tours in Israel.
Liberate Art’s 2016 Accomplishments
Op-eds / Talk Radio / Videos & Podcasts / Community Outreach / Entertainment Industry Support / Public Speaking Engagements / International Relationship Building / Supporting Israeli Artists / Hollywood liaison
Liberate Art needs your support to continue and expand our work
Contributions are 100% tax deductible
To the editor: Saltzberg offers a much-needed offensive strategy to defeat the immoral BDS campaign against Israel on college campuses.
I suggest we build on that strategy. The BDS campaign is itself a human rights violator that seeks to silence the voices of all who dare to disagree with its political agenda. It singles out the Jewish state for discrimination, something that would not be tolerated against any other ethnic minority.
It’s time not just to render the acronym meaningless but also to redefine it. A more accurate definition of the acronym BDS is boycott, discriminate and segregate.
Israel’s detractors don’t own the alphabet. Let’s seize the day.