Zappa’s concerts in partnership with Ir David to take place as planned

Despite protests against the venue where's they'll take place, Zappa's concerts will take place as planned in Jerusalem.

August 15, 2019 18:02
3 minute read.
Zappa’s concerts in partnership with Ir David to take place as planned

City of David. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

A recent agreement between the Ir David Foundation (the nonprofit Elad) and the Zappa Club to present a series concerts in Jerusalem in the Hinnom Valley at the foundation’s recently acquired venue there sparked protests from left-wing activists who oppose Elad’s mission to acquire property in east Jerusalem neighborhoods, but the concerts are preceding without a hitch.

A statement released by Zappa confirmed that the Beit B’Gai (House in the Valley) or Live B’Gai series would go forward as planned, with five performances featuring the artists Danny Robas, Arkadi Duchin, Revital Vitelzon Jacobs, Moshe Lahav and Shlomi Koriat coming up. The first concert in the series, by Noam Horev, was already held on August 13. The concerts run through the end of the month.

“As a body dedicated to music and culture in Israel, our goal is to bring a politics-free cultural series to the general public, in this case, to the Jerusalem audience in a series of performances held in collaboration and support of the local authority,” Zappa said.

“The Zappa Group works across the country on a wide range of projects in close cooperation with local authorities and cultural bodies. We did the same with the referral we received from the Jerusalem Development Authority and Ir David. [Zappa acted] recognizing that the activities offered to the group are within the law and take place in facilities directly related to the local authority or its envoy. Zappa did not examine the background of the location in question, as it does not in places where the group operates across the country, and had no way of knowing that [the venue] was a disputed structure. As a body that deals with music and promoting culture in Israel, it is important for us to make it clear that Zappa does not take any political stance.”

Ir David, for its part, said, “Ir David, which works for the development of ancient Jerusalem for the benefit of the general public, is pleased about these cultural events by leading Jerusalem artists, [alongside the] Jerusalem view of the [Hinnom Valley] outdoors, under the stars. This is one of the most beautiful areas of Jerusalem, and we are confident that the upcoming events to take place at Beit B’Gai constitute real news on the Jerusalem cultural scene, and allow the public to enjoy great music and great cultural events in a unique atmosphere. We regret that there are extremists and fringe [groups] cynically trying to use culture as a tool for promoting a political agenda.”

In response to the announcement of the concerts, the left-wing Free Jerusalem organization launched an online petition several weeks ago that urged Zappa to cancel the performances and invited those who agree to email Zappa. The text of the petition read in part, “This series of performances is a platform for legitimizing the work of the Elad Association, which is working to promote the Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.” According to the online site, more than 900 emails opposing the concerts were sent to Zappa.

A music producer who spoke off the record said, “Zappa runs a club in Jerusalem, but they’re not Jerusalemites. They had no idea what Ir David and Elad stand for, that it had any connection to evicting Palestinians who’ve lived in a house their entire life so they can move Jews in. They’re just going to get through these concerts and get it over with, but they’re never going to partner with Ir David again. It just confirms the perceptions of people in Tel Aviv and the center of the country that anything to do with Jerusalem is a headache and not worth the trouble.”

Asked whether it was likely that musicians would boycott Zappa because the concerts are taking place, he said, “That isn’t happening. It’s so competitive in the music industry now, people know if they boycott a venue there are literally dozens of other artists who are willing to take their places and get the money and the exposure.”

If Zappa continues to perform in this venue, he said, after this series of concerts ends, there might be trouble, he said: “And if the activists turn the heat up, it’s possible that some of the older, more established artists would choose to boycott. But I don’t see younger musicians doing that.”

Tickets can be bought here.

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