Meteor madness

Meteor Festival performer DJ Ivan Smagghe from France took to social media Monday to explain why he respects artists for taking a moral stand on issues, rather than kowtowing to pressure campaigns.

By
September 3, 2018 21:12
3 minute read.
Lana Del Rey at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards New York, U.S., (January 28, 2018).

Lana Del Rey at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards New York, U.S., (January 28, 2018). . (photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)

On the surface, it shouldn’t really concern us that an uninformed pop star from the United States decides to cancel a scheduled performance in Israel because she wasn’t able to arrange a last-minute sister performance in ‘Palestine.’

This weekend’s ambitious Meteor Festival, taking place over three days at Kibbutz Lahavot Habashan in the Upper Galilee, will hopefully survive Lana Del Rey’s abrupt decision to scrap her contracted show in Israel – and that of another dozen popular international DJs, who were slated to perform at the event. There are still some 50 international acts appearing, along with a slew of homegrown Israeli talent. Festival-goers, from Israel and abroad, will surely get their money’s worth of talent and experiences.
 
However, Del Rey’s odd move and lame excuse, coming on the heels of her being added to the bill at her management’s initiative (at a reportedly exorbitant fee) only a couple weeks ago, should be a wake-up call for those who diminish the scope and influence of the well-oiled BDS movement.
 
Young, impressionable artists like Del Rey – and Lorde, who canceled her scheduled show in Israel earlier this year under similar circumstances – are faced with a barrage of propaganda about Israel and the “government’s human rights atrocities,” as Los Angeles-based DJ Shlohmo, wrote in his cancellation announcement.
 
Some of those who cancel indeed are pulled by an ideological bent, no matter how misplaced. However, others don’t see red over Israel’s policies, they rather less green – amid the specter that future lucrative engagements in Arab countries might be placed in jeopardy or that their uber-liberal fan base might rebel with their pocket books.
 
Most veteran performers, well into their careers or near the tail end, don’t have to think about the financial or political ramifications of performing in Israel. A Brian Wilson or a Ringo Starr can ignore criticism without taking into account how it may affect their career. Or if the issues of the region really trouble them, there’s the path that the late Leonard Cohen and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson took: identifying Israeli-Palestinian coexistence projects they could support with their concert proceeds.
 
Lana Del Rey could have chosen that path, instead of making up a ridiculous excuse about not being able to play to her fans in Palestine – as if Palestinians are pining to pay hundreds of shekels to see an American pop star. But the emails, tweets and posts condemning her for performing in Israel got to her before a rational solution could be formulated.
 
Why should we care over what amounts to a business deal fallen through? Because artists like Del Rey and Lorde, and DJs like Leon Vynehall and Python are followed by millions of impressionable fans who are totally ignorant of the complexities and nuances of the Middle East. They have no preference for Israel or Palestine or whose narrative is the truth. The only thing they know is that their favorite artist is more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis.
 
Studies have well documented the trend of the post-Oslo generation in the US and Europe losing most if not all of the affinity toward Israel that their parents’ and grandparents’ generations had. The growing reluctance of young performers to perform in Israel, or to be easily dissuaded to change their minds by insidious, distorted propaganda, is an unfortunate part of that trend.
 
Meteor Festival performer DJ Ivan Smagghe from France took to social media Monday to explain why he respects artists for taking a moral stand on issues, rather than kowtowing to pressure campaigns.
 
“I have a lot less [respect] for artists-with-management who cancel after a lame fear campaign… scared for their “reputation” or the future of their $$$$ gig in Dubai. Political epiphanies seem to come cheap these days.
 
“But mainly I don’t need nor like to be told what to do or think. I know where I stand, I know where my friends stand, I know our sometimes disputes about “the situation” – but also I know [Israelis’] daily fight to make their country a better place.”
 
That’s an attitude that should be widely disseminated in the artistic community. We applaud Smagghe, as well as all of the artists arriving this week to perform; the organizers of the Meteor Festival; and the thousands of music fans who will be gathering in the North to celebrate a belief that music can help unite instead of divide.


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