Macy Gray stands up to pressure to scrap Tel Aviv shows

January 20, 2011 - 12:17 PM by

It’s happened too often in the recent past – high-profile international performers like Elvis Costello and the Pixies who book and sell out shows in Israel, and then turn around and cancel them.

The pro-Palestinian presence on the Web and in campaigns calling for these artists to boycott Israel by using catch phrases like “Apartheid state” and focusing on its treatment of Palestinians is usually the main reason for the turn around in the artists’ decision to scrap their plans.

And at least on the surface, it’s what prompted American soul singer Macy Gray to post a status on her Facebook fan page questioning whether she should honor her contract to appear in Tel Aviv at the Reading 3 club on February 11 and 12.

“I’m booked for two shows in Tel Aviv,” Gray wrote. “I’m getting a lot of
letters from activists urging and begging me to boycott by not performing in protest of apartheid against the Palestinians. What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I want to go. I have a lot of fans there that I don’t want to cancel on, and I don’t know how my not going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?”

Around 2,000 people reacted to Gray’s status update, with the majority
writing messages like “cultural boycott is an integral part of the fight
against apartheid” and “cancel your tour and stand up for human rights.”

Others responded differently. “Please don’t give in to the haters – they claim that Israel practices Apartheid, but the last time you played in Israel, the Arab students of Israel’s Hebrew University were equally able to watch you play. That’s not apartheid; that’s freedom!” wrote one referring to her last performance here in 2008.

Having evidently weighed the various responses, Gray, who has performed three previous times in Israel, announced via Twitter on Wednesday that she had decided to honor her commitment to perform in Tel Aviv. “Dear Israel fans. Me and the band will be there in 20 days. Can’t wait. See you then. Peace,” she wrote.

While the case seems closed, it apparently isn’t. According to a couple insiders in the concert promotion business, it’s not so much the performer’s conscience that suddenly lights up when met by the pro-Palestinian onslaught – it’s something much more concrete.

“Some of these artists are getting death threats,” said one member of a production team in Tel Aviv. “They’re generally apolitical and don’t know or understand the issues of the region. But when they are threatened, it suddenly jolts them. Hearing or reading ‘if you play in Israel, we’ll kill you’ can cause some people to cancel.”

That allegedly happened to Paul McCartney a few hours before his giant show in Tel Aviv in 2008, when a caller reportedly threatened to shoot him if he went onstage. Sir Paul didn’t give in and the show went on as planned.

Whether Macy Gray – despite her apparent decision to buck the boycott calls – will have the gumption to do the same, if the haters of Israel resort to such uncivilized tactics, remains to be seen.

Comments

8 Comments on Macy Gray stands up to pressure to scrap Tel Aviv shows

  1. farid ibrahim on Wed, Jan 26th 2011 9:02 PM
  2. Listen as icitizen of israel (israeli arab) from abu -gosh live in nyc usa I’m for all artists to go on and perform as planned in tel-aviv. Becouse its very vital to separate politics from culture exchange. I have nieces who impationtley waiting for justin peiiber “concert which planned for march. In tel-aviv. I feel as an israeli arab its my duty to continue educate those who blindley judge the israeli as racist and full of hate. Ican only say from my personal life and experience that those and they blenty of israeli that I know are loving peacefull people . Shaloom. Farid ibrahim

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    [...] polling her Facebook fans for their take on Middle Eastern politics (she ultimately decided to honor her commitment). [...]

    [...] polling her Facebook fans for their take on Middle Eastern politics (she ultimately decided to honor her commitment). [...]

    [...] polling her Facebook fans for their take on Middle Eastern politics (she ultimately decided to honor her commitment). [...]

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