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Elliott and Rotten Keep Israel Gigs

Who is boycotting and who is not

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Missy Elliott.(Joar Jacobsson/Flickr)

Recently, several musical acts have canceled appearances in Israel to protest government policies. Ur-alt rockers The Pixies and the legendary Elvis Costello were two prominent no-shows; guitarist Carlos Santana nixed a gig earlier this year; actress Meg Ryan reportedly refused to appear at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Earlier this week, meanwhile, the remaining members of Pink Floyd reunited to play a benefit for Palestinian refugees; in 2006, bassist Roger Waters spray-painted “tear down the wall” on the separation barrier in Bethlehem (remember, they did The Wall).

But there is another side to this coin. Despite having received calls to cancel tonight’s Tel Aviv show, hip-hop artist Missy Elliott arrived in Israel yesterday, making visits to Masada and the Western Wall (where she left a note). And Johnny Rotten, of the Sex Pistols, announced that he will not cancel his August show, even though he has received hate mail on account of it.

I think the Pink Floyd/Johnny Rotten comparison is interesting (and, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Pink Floyd is outrageously anti-Israel—improving Palestinian refugees’ living conditions is a good cause). Floyd—undoubtedly one of the greatest and most important rock acts of all time—pushed the (over)produced and concept-heavy golden age of classic rock to its logical extreme and culmination. In other words, it was acts like Floyd that, in the mid-1970s, provoked the heavily stripped-down reaction embodied by The Ramones, The Clash, Patti Smith, and, of course, The Sex Pistols. What’s my point? Maybe playing Israel—in spite of others’ reservations, or even one’s own—is the punk-rock thing to do.

Missy Elliott Arrives for Show, Visits to J’lem and Masada [JPost]
Johnny Rotten Keeping Tel Aviv Gig, Despite Hate Mail [JTA]
Pink Floyd Reunites for Palestinian Benefit Concert [Palestine Note]
Related: Artists’ Boycott Strikes a Dissonant Note Inside Israel [NYT]

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You may have a point there, Marc.

Ironically, Roger Waters, something of a misanthrope, splits time between Manhattan and the Hamptons, and has, informally and perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, proposed a moratorium on allowing any more home purchases in the East End.

By way of a test of your thesis, it would be interesting to find out what, if anything, members of the band Yes, the ne plus ultra of progressive, over-produced rock have to say about Israel. It was their pompous keyboardist, Rick Wakeman, who is alleged to have gotten the Sex Pistols kicked off the EMI label, offended as he was by their tastelessness and iconoclasm.

Of course, Steve Howe replacement, Trevor Rabin is, I assume, Jewish.

Mike Wallin says:

Kudos to Missy for her concert and I assure you Carlos Santana’s cancellation of his shows were not for political reasons ….he has always been a great supporter of jewish causes and has donated his time for both Chabad and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the past.

rykart says:

Rotten performers for a rotten state.

Let’s hope the Israelis don’t yell “CUSHI” at Miss Eliot. She’s about all they’ve got left.

Patient: I always see spots before my eyes. Doctor: Didn’t the new glasses help? Patient: Sure, now I see the spots much clearer.

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Elliott and Rotten Keep Israel Gigs

Who is boycotting and who is not

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