A wave of cancellations hit the Meteor Festival being held in Israel, reflecting the growing strength and influence of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). While artistes such as the British DJ Ross From Friends and American singer Tom Krell declined the offer from the festival on their own accord, supporting the artistic and cultural boycott of Israel, several other artistes responded to the call by Palestinian cultural organizations and cancelled their participation in the festival, joining the boycott.
The most significant cancellation was that of Lana Del Rey. Del Rey initially responded to the boycott appeal by justifying her performance, only to later pull out, stating that she was postponing her participation until she could perform for both her Israeli and Palestinian fans. It has been reported that she was paid an advance of $700,000 before she cancelled.
More recently, American electronic musician Shlohmo, who had initially agreed to perform so he could donate his fees to the inhabitants of Gaza, cancelled his participation in the festival, stating that his support to the oppressed through his absence was more important to him. Indie band of Montreal also cancelled their participation with a strong statement condemning Israeli aggression: “Now is the time for activism and protests against Israeli apartheid, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the human rights atrocities being carried out everyday in Gaza by Israeli forces. We have so much love for the peace loving Israeli people and an equal amount of love for the peace loving Palestinians.”
The Meteor Festival is being held from September 6-8 in a kibbutz in northern Israel. Festivals such as this serve to ‘art-wash’ Israel’s brutal regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid. The organizers of the festival are known to bring artistes to Israel that later serve to cover up for the regime by being its ambassadors. Accommodation during the course of the festival is being provided on illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen lands in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
Israel has used art and culture to whitewash its crimes against Palestinians and deployed them as tools of propaganda. Against this, Palestinian artistes and academics called for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in 2004. Since then, several noted figures from across the world have joined this call. Roger Waters, Lorde, Mira Nair and Danny Glover are among the many that have refused to have their art be appropriated by Israel. Palestinian cultural organizations called for a boycott of the Meteor Festival as it too serves the art-washing agenda of Israel. Just as artistes refused to play for apartheid South Africa, they must also not lend their voice to Israel’s apartheid, occupation and settler-colonialism. Like Lana Del Rey, Shlohmo and a growing number of musicians withdrawing from the Meteor Festival, artistes must also join the Palestinian picket line.