Artists Take Sides

A Report on the Cultural Boycott

The Palestinian boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign has been largely unsuccessful in slowing Israel’s booming economy.


“It’s had a handful of symbolic victories, like Airbnb, but the economic impact has been nil,” says David Rosenberg, economics editor for Haaretz and author of  Israel’s Technology Economy: Origins and Impact.


But the cultural boycott is another matter. Economic stories tend to stay on the business pages. News that music celebrities are cancelling shows and arguing with other celebrities quickly finds its way into the headlines.


The buzz reverberates with younger audiences and can now be endlessly echoed and amplified on social media. Sometimes the feedback can be too loud for artists to ignore – particularly those still building their careers.


Noise aside, 2018 was not a great year for the boycott. Headline-grabbing cancellations by Lorde and Lana Del Rey barely dented more than 200 live performances by foreign artists in Israel. Visitors included Alanis Morisette, Ozzy Osbourne, America, Alice in Chains and Ringo Starr. So far a dozen major acts have been announced for 2019, including Bon Jovi, Slash and Steven Wilson.

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