In win for BDS, 2 performers pull out of Israeli music festival

Award-winning singer/songwriter Lana Del Ray, who initially refused to cave in to BDS pressure, cancelled her gig in Israel, followed by electronic musician Shlohmo.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After assuring fans at the beginning of last week that she would attend the Meteor Festival in Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in northern Israel September 6-9 because she “believe[s] music is universal and should be used to bring us together,” Lana Del Rey told her followers on Friday that she will not come after all.

Pressured by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement to withdraw, the Grammy-nominated American musician backtracked from her original statements in which she “reminded” her fans that accepting invitations to perform around the world does not mean she necessarily agrees with the prevailing political views in those countries – including the United States under President Donald Trump.

Del Rey cited a desire for even-handedness as her reason for postponing her trip to Israel for a second time. The first time she cancelled was in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge.

“It’s important for me to perform in both ‘Palestine’ and Israel and treat all my fans equally,” Del Rey wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to line up both visits with such short notice, and therefore I’m postponing my appearance at the Meteor Festival until a time when I can schedule visits for both my Israeli and Palestinian fans, as well as hopefully other countries in the region.”

The singer was scheduled to be one of the headliners for the inaugural three-day festival that bills itself as a private endeavor that receives “no support, funds or benefits from any governmental or political entity.” It takes place on private land and has an agenda of “peace, coexistence, equality.”

The organizers therefore rejected the attempt by BDSers to snub it due to Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians.

“We believe deeply in music’s capacity to transcend and heal humanity’s rifts,” they wrote on their webpage, and since their aim is “to bring people of all kinds together through the common love for music and art….No one will make us hate, that includes BDS which insanely politicized our event.”

Henry Laufer, an electronic musician known by his stage name Shlohmo, also abruptly pulled out on Friday. He, however, was clear that it was for political reasons, tweeting that “supporting the oppressed thru my absence is more important to me” than performing.

Dozens of other acts from around the world as well as in Israel will play a large range of music, from jazz to rap to pop for fans who can camp out in the open parkland near the Jordan River.