Jewish Journal

The art of boycott

by Noga Gur-Arieh

May 8, 2012 | 9:51 am

Dervish. Boooooo

The Irish band Dervish was scheduled to perform in Israel next month.  As the concert’s day approached, Dervish’s Facebook page filled with posts by fans, who threatened to boycott the band itself, if they won’t cancel their visit here. Unfortunately for them, but mostly for their Israeli fans, the band members caved in to fans’ pressure, and decided to join the unreasonable cultural boycott of Israel.

Here is what the band members published (spelling mistakes included): “Dervish wish to announce they will not be taking part in the Irish music concert series in Israel this June.
Our original decision to participate in the concerts was, like all our tours and appearances, completely non-political. The organiser of the shows is a musician and friend of the band for many years. He has worked to bridge divides between people through music for much of his life. These concerts were organised in this same spirit. At the time we agreed to these performances we were unaware there was a cultural boycott in place. We now feel that we do not wish to break this boycott. Our decision to withdraw from the concerts reflects our wish to neither endorse nor criticise anyone’s political views in this situation. Dervish are a grouping of like musical minds, we are not a political party .Our motivation as a band has always been and will continue to be our love of music”.

This is a letter I sent them:

Good for you, Dervish, for not breaking the boycott, God forbid. It is very important to not take sides politically, by boycotting a state just because people with a clear political agenda have decided to do so. It is very important to focus strictly on doing music, which is why you made the right choice by not sharing it with your Israeli fans, who, the last time I checked, were humans just like the rest of your fans.
Take Elton John, for instance. He decided to perform here, even while being fully aware of the boycott. People threatened him, saying that if he will not boycott Israel, they will boycott him. It has been two years now, since he performed here, and last time I checked, he was still pretty popular. Same goes for Lady Gaga, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many more.

Dear Dervish band members, whose names I don’t bother to learn, this is not a game. This is not first graders who decide not to play with the foreign kid because of a dumb rumor they didn’t bother checking. This is the real world, and you are messing with people’s lives here. We, Israelis are real people, not fairytale characters who live in a faraway land. We are flesh and blood, and last time I checked, your Israeli fans did nothing wrong to our neighbors. Your Israeli fans are not decision makers, and certainly not murderers. They are people who try to live a normal life, while others think it’s funny to mess it up. Your so-called politically correct announcement is hurtful, and so are some of the comments written by your fans. For every Youtube video you see condemning Israel’s “apartheid” system and humiliating treatment toward Palestinians, I can show you a Youtube video showing the exact opposite.

Never judge a book by its cover. Ever heard that sentence? What if I will send a letter to Coldplay, saying Ireland is a terrible place, where they treat brown-eyed people like they are second-rate humans? I’ll attach a well-edited video with proof, and ask all of my Israeli friends to join me in that struggle. It is impossible to even think of Ireland, while this massacre is going on. Sounds absolutely ridiculous, right? But think to yourself: what if it actually worked, and you have nothing to do to make it stop? What if there is in fact a problem, but it is much more complicated than you can imagine, and you are being punished just because people are too narrow-minded and don’t bother digging a little bit deeper?
This is not high-school, this is international relations. Moreover, these are people. Just like you. You are not sure what’s really going on in Israel, and you will never be sure until you will come here. But the one thing that is sure is that hurtful cancellation. That happened for sure.  It is sad that a band like you forgot what music is all about - which is bringing people together. Music is the one international language which should never be infected with politics. Congratulations, you helped that infection spread. You are now poison.

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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