Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pushing "Stop"

At last I can afford to buy tickets to shows of visiting music stars. This is because they are sure to be canceled and the money is sure to be refunded. The cultural embargo on Israel has begun, and boy is it shaking us up.

I enjoy these little dramas the same way as I do the current World Cup matches - from afar. I read that the Pixies are coming. I read that a ticket to the Pixies show will cost over 400 sheqels. I read that the Pixies canceled their show. I read that the public is in an uproar.

Last night I read that Denvedra Banhart also canceled his show, appearently because eager Zionists were making him out to be "the Israel lover" for choosing to come after all, and he wasn't too pleased with being politicized (This is implied in his apology to his Israeli audience. A recent tel-Aviv concert by British indie band "Placebo" is said to have been turned into a nationalist rally, complete with flags and chants). Israeli fans find it hard to internalize that choosing to perform here is just as political an act as choosing not to. We have a lot to learn and local media will teach us none of it.

You should have seen my Facebook page last night, it's even more full of freak-folk-freaks than of people appreciating the ingenuity of Elvis Costello. "Devendra Benhart, You broke my heart" one writes. I hastened to comment: "It's Ehud Barak who broke your heart, honey. Keep your eyes on the money."

Israeli fans of those foreign stars, many of them educated urbanites, have a huge power to promote change in this country. an embargo by, say, the Coca Cola company, which caters to all, may produce public unrest that could promote reactionary forces in Israel's politics (as if those need any more promotion) but the artist embargo touches on the lives of dormant liberals, those who could make a difference but are too busy DJing.

That The cancellations shake them up, that's evident, Will they eventually take their anger to the streets of Sheikh Jarrakh and cause something to actually change? It's worth a shot. My impression is that the Tel-Avivian hipsters can no longer pretend that everything is just fine, and that's an important thing.

It's now important to help them focus their anger on the government rather than on the artists. That shouldn't be too hard. They love these artists, these artists break their hearts. Folks, mend this country and your hearts will be mended. You've got to fight the occupation for your right to party.

If you live here and side with me on this, make sure you make your voices heard. Open up the eyes of upset music lovers to their call to action. Soon we may be dancing again.


Amitai S said...

Yup, we agree.
The sad thing is that those people will cry only when they get hurt themselves, and even then choose to blame the leftists instead of their government.

Shai said...

"My impression is that the Tel-Avivian hipsters can no longer pretend that everything is just fine, and that's an important thing."
Indeed, you must really be observing from afar!

יובל בן-עמי Yuval Ben-Ami said...

Wow, I'm definitely discouraged by how discouraged the two of you are. I have to stay optimistic. It's the legacy of my ever optimistic late grandfather.

Anonymous said...

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, A couple of years back the UK Student Union tried but were unsuccessful in a call for boycotting Israeli academics, some have called for a ban by universities in any dealings with Israeli academia. It is considered ‘career suicide’ for Israel to appear on your C.V.

Anonymous said...

oh... and its also considered unhip to buy any israeli produce.
Israeli is the the new 'old South Africa

jaron said...

i think devendra should have played here, and anywhere to spread his truth. i dont see any evidence of people being stirred up by his cancellation. i think quite the opposite, that it makes people more apathetic about politics. anyhow, heres my take...