Grammy-nominated indie rock band Big Thief were bombarded with thousands of threats from anti-Zionist BDS movement activists to cancel their two planned concerts in Israel before they finally made the decision to cancel the shows in Tel Aviv, the father of the band’s Israeli bassist told Israel’s Public Broadcaster Can Thursday.
Big Thief bassist Max Oleartchik is the son of famed Israeli musician Alon Oleartchik, founding member of Israeli rock band Kaveret. Max, 34, now lives in New York but was born in Israel, and his band performed in Tel Aviv in 2017. They were supposed to return to Israel for a concert in 2020, but the show was canceled due to the COVID pandemic.
On June 4, Big Thief revealed on Instagram that they would be having two concerts in Tel Aviv on July 6 and 7, but following the announcement, the band “received thousands of threats,” Alon said. Can.
“The reaction they received for [announcing] a performance in Israel was horrible and terrible,” Alon said. “They were crushed by it.” He added that his son Max “was also crushed by this, he really wanted [the concert] happen. They’re the least political band I know, they don’t have any statements about Israel, they write songs about relationships and humanity.
While announcing the cancellation of their concerts in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Big Thief also said, “To be clear, we oppose the illegal occupation and systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. We believe in total freedom and self-determination for all Palestinians.
“Our intention of wanting to play the shows in Tel Aviv, where Max was born, raised and currently lives, stemmed from a simple belief that music can heal,” the band added. “We now recognize that the shows we had booked do not respect this sentiment. We are sorry to those we hurt by the recklessness and naivety of our original statement about performing in Israel and hope that those who were planning to attend the shows will understand our choice to cancel them.
The Barby Club, the Tel Aviv concert hall where Big Thief was scheduled to perform in July, criticized the band for succumbing to pressure exerted on them by supporters of the BDS movement and called the musicians “a bunch of wretches.” spineless musicians who are afraid of their own shadow.
Creative Community for Peace, an entertainment industry nonprofit, said it was “disappointed” with the group’s decision to cave in “to the demands of a boycott movement that openly rejects coexistence and seeks destruction. of Israel, undermining the principles of engagement, tolerance and dialogue.
“Instead of using their voices as artists to bring people together and amplify the many coexistence organizations working to bring Palestinians and Israelis together through music, arts and culture on the ground, everything Big Thief has done is to create greater animosity and cause more division,” CCFP said in a statement. “Ultimately, the boycott is an affront to Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek to achieve peace. through compromise, exchange and mutual recognition.Music in Israel brings together people from all walks of life – Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, blacks, whites, Muslims and Christians – and concerts in Israel play a small but crucial role in hope of achieving this peace.
The organization also quoted Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave who previously said, “The cultural boycott of Israel is cowardly and shameful. Israel is a real, vibrant, functioning democracy — yes, with Arab MPs — and so engaging with Israelis, who vote, can be more useful than scaring off artists or shutting down the means of engagement.
Max has yet to comment on his band’s decision not to perform in his hometown.