Comment: Don't blame the Palestinians for Santana

We should overcome our natural inclination to chalk up the guitarists cancellation to the anti-Israel bogeyman.

santana 311 (photo credit: AP)
santana 311
(photo credit: AP)
Did the specter of anti-Israel pressure have anything to do with the cancellation of Carlos Santana’s concert in Tel Aviv? Last weekend, less than a month after the blustery announcement that the Woodstock-era legend would be performing on June 3 at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, promoter Shuki Weiss released a statement announcing the show’s cancellation.
Citing scheduling difficulties that forced it to postpone various destinations in the upcoming concert tour, Santana’s management issued a statement saying, “We look forward to performing in the many historic places that Santana has long wanted to return to.”
For his part, Weiss said that he was amazed by the news of the cancellation of the show, which was already reportedly selling at a brisk rate.
“I am very surprised and very sorry for the change in the artist’s schedule,” he said.
Weis’s statement added that full refunds would be made to ticket purchasers. Those who purchased tickets with a credit card will have the transaction canceled automatically, while those who paid in cash could receive a refund at their point of purchase beginning Sunday.
Santana was just one of the name artists who confirmed dates for this year, leading a pack that includes Elton John, Rod Stewart, the Pixies, Rhiana, and rumors of shows by Bob Dylan, Metallica, Coldplay and U2.
UNNAMED SOURCES in Weiss’s office told Yediot Aharanot that Santana had received “messages” from anti-Israel groups that it wouldn’t be in his best interest to play in Israel. On January 20, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott sent an open letter to Santana calling on him to cancel the performance. Similar letters had been sent in the past to both Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen in unsuccessful attempts to convince them to call off their already booked shows here.
And McCartney allegedly even received death threats only hours before his 2008 show at Hayarkon Park.
Ultimately, while it’s reasonable that Santana did indeed receive a “message” about his Tel Aviv show in the form of this and other public calls to cancel, it’s not so reasonable to think that such bullying efforts would convince him to do so. After all, we’re talking about a guy who used to lead a knife gang when he was a teenager. So it’s unlikely he’d feel threatened by a few pro-Palestinian thugs.
In addition, it’s unthinkable that the artist and his management didn’t carefully weigh the offer to perform in Tel Aviv – not only for its monetary benefits, but also its political ramifications – before deciding to accept. They knew there would be protests, and that for some, it would be an unpopular decision.
What’s more likely is that at age 63, Santana decided he didn’t want toprolong his tour past the final advertised date of May 25 in Lisbon.So, rather than blame the anti-Israel bogeyman, as is our naturalinclination, let’s chalk this one up to a scheduling glitch, asSantana’s management announced.
And let’s hope that his esteemedcolleagues, like Elton and Rod, don’t pay any attention to the lobbyingefforts of those who would like us to experience a music-less springand summer. And there’s always a silver lining – we won’t have to hearthe fiery guitarist extraordinaire perform his slick Top 40 hit“Smooth.”