Days of Palestine

Tuesday, March 21

Big Thief, American Band, Decides to Cancel Plans to Play in Apartheid Israel

M.Y | DOP -

Days of Palestine – Ramallah

The American rock band, Big Thief, has canceled Thursday their two shows in apartheid Israel after BDS calls.

In a tweet, the band said that we will be canceling our 2 shows in Tel Aviv. We would like to start by clarifying a few things from our first post. When we spoke of loving “beyond disagreement” and not knowing “where the moral high ground lies,” that was in specific reference to playing shows in Israel during a time when BDS is calling for a cultural boycott. This was not in reference to the Israeli occupation and the displacement of Palestinians.

“To be clear, we oppose the illegal occupation and the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. We believe in total freedom and self-determination for all Palestinians,” they added.

The band stated that although we have much to learn, these basic realities were never in question for us. We acknowledge that aspects of our previous post were written unclearly and in avoidance of the magnitude and importance of this conversation.

We also recognize there are limitations in our perspectives based on our various layers of privilege, they said.

The American band stressed that we said we are”well aware of the cultural aspects of the BDS boycott” and we have since realized that is not the case.

In their tweet, the band said that since announcing these shows in Israel we have been in constant dialogue with friends, family, BDS supporters and allies, Palestinians, and Israeli citizens who are committed to the fight for justice for Palestinians. It has been the only thing on our minds and in our hearts.

Our intent in 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, they added, we now recognize that the shows we had booked do not honor that sentiment.

In a message to its audience, the band said that we are sorry to those we hurt with recklessness and naivete of our original statement on playing in Israel and we hope those who were planning to attend the shows understand our choice to cancel them.

We recognize that withholding our cultural labor alone cannot be the only action we take. We have more learning to do so we can take more informed action.

As a band, we consider each other family, forever reaching to understand each other. In your responses to our actions, you have helped us to realize that we were in avoidance of entering this discussion about Max’s home in a more thoughtful way.

We are committed to growing from this, and moving forward with the transparency, accountability, and import that such a situation requires.

The concerts were initially announced two years ago before the pandemic intervened; the indie group then re-affirmed their decision with a post online over the weekend.

The statement was met with hostility online, with some criticizing the vague use of language in such an important matter.

Admitting they have “much to learn”, the group says the new statement follows a process of dialogue.

The band explain that their decision to play the shows in Tel Aviv – a city where one member lives – came from “a belief that music can heal”.

Meanwhile, the BDS Movement salutes the Big Thief’s courage and willingness to listen to the oppressed.

In a tweet, the movement said that we recognize the clear position of a majority of the group’s fans of principled support for BDS.

The Movement urged that all artists booked for Israeli venues and festivals that are complicit in apartheid, occupation and ethinc cleansing to cancel their performances and join the Palestinian struggle.