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A planned performance by Ivri Lider in a "Friends of the IDF" tribute concert for soldiers in Rishon Lezion has been canceled amid controversy.
On Thursday, Lider's agent Roni Arditi claimed she received a phone call from the Friends of the IDF organizers demanding that she send them a letter declaring that Ivri Lider "likes the IDF and respects its values" and that this performance, and any future performances in the coming couple of years, will count as reserve duty.
Lider reportedly refused to send the letter, and consequently his participation in the concert was canceled. Other performers scheduled to perform, including singer Eyal Golan, comedian Adir Miller and rock band Sinergia, have expressed their disappointment. Veteran singer Zvika Pik is slotted to replace Lider.
With increasingly prevalent headlines about draft dodging celebrities, most prominently the latest slew of contestants on Kochav Nolad (A Star is Born), Lider may be the first of many big name talents to feel the IDF crackdown on this trend.
Sunday morning, OC Education Corps Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermayster said on Army Radio that no letter was demanded of Lider and that the singer was only told that he must begin counting his performances as reserve duty. The IDF, said Shermayster, does not require artists to express any political views.
When reminded that Lider had performed at many similar IDF events previously, Shermayster replied that "just because a mistake was made in the past does not mean that it need be repeated."
The controversy comes on the coattails of a new directive by OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern, former head of the Education Corps, which bans performers who have dodged military service from performing for soldiers. Lider did not serve in the army, so an agreement to count his performances as reserve duty would have been a loophole allowing him circumvent the new directive.