“Due to the present ongoing problems in Israel with all the recent shootings and people getting kicked to death in public etc, the band do not feel safe or secure with the idea of playing Tel Aviv, and as the ticket sales are also not very good I think it is in everybody’s best interests that we cancel the show now. Thank you for your understanding and I am sorry that it did not work out”.
That’s how Manfred Mann’s Earth Band cancelled their Israeli gig, scheduled for January 19th in Tel Aviv’s Reading-3 club. The security issue angered Israeli ticket buyers, who felt cheated and humiliated.
The show was originally scheduled for September 21st, 2015. Although the band has informed the Israeli promoter on November 3rd, the show only was officially cancelled in the last minute by the Israel production, citing difficulties with locating a proper Organ for famed keyboardist Manfred Mann. Ticket buyers were suspicious about the whole thing, but a new date was set (19/01/2016) and things looked fine.
On November 23, the band issued a quick statement, cancelling the gig:
However, the Israeli promoter, “Progstage”, refused to accept the situation. A wave of terror has swept Israel since September 2015, centering around the Temple Mount. The guys at ProgStage did not cancel the gig, and kept on selling tickets to Israeli consumers.
As the show’s January 19 date was getting closer, the UK band was bombed with questions from Israelis: are you coming or not? so they issued another statement on January 13th:
After this annoucement, the Israeli promotor had no option but to cancel. However, this is where things got ugly. Progstage staff accused Manfred Mann’s management of joining a cultural boycott against Israel (BDS). This, despite the band’s sweeping denial of any such attempt.
It should be noted that Manfred Mann’s Earth Band has performed in Israel on May 2004. The band gave two gigs in Tel Aviv and Haifa. So clearly, at least some of the band members what Israel is like.
After the Israeli press turned the lost gig into a minor political scandal, the summary is quite simple: many UK artists don’t feel safe in Israel. They watch BBC News and see an endless stream of terror attacks throughout Israel, including the occupied territories. People are being stabbed in the streets of Jerusalem, Hebron and many more cities. Many Palestinians are being shot to death by soldiers, sometimes on a daily basis.
Justin Hayward (for The Moody Blues), for example, also cancelled his Tel Aviv gig after two attemps of rescheduling. American band “Kansas” also cancelled their gig back in August 2014, because of the war with Gaza.
We, Israelis, understand why some rock groups decide to avoid visiting Israel. However, it should be noted that many big rock bands have perfomed successfully in Israel lately. Bon Jovi, Art Garfunkel, Suede and the Rolling Stones are just some of the artists who ignored the security concerns. Even the great Elton John is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on May 26th, 2016.