Big Thief have cancelled their two upcoming shows in Israel. Last week, the band announced two concerts in Tel Aviv on July 6 and 7 along with a statement originally posted in 2020, when the shows were supposed to happen, explaining that they wanted to play in Tel Aviv because it was bassist Max Oleartchik’s hometown.
“We are well aware of the cultural aspect of the BDS movement and the desperate reality of the Palestinian people,” the band wrote. “In terms of where we fit into the boycott, we don’t claim to know where the moral high ground lies and we want to remain open to other people’s perspectives and to love beyond disagreement. We understand the inherently political nature of playing there as well as the implications. Our intention is not to diminish the values of those who support the boycott or to turn a blind eye to those suffering. We are striving to be in the spirit of learning.”
After receiving considerable backlash online, the band has now said their decision to cancel the performances stems from having “constant dialogue with friends, family, BDS supporters and allies, Palestinians, and Israeli citizens who are committed to the fight for justice for Palestinians.” Clarifying their original statement, they explained: “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.”
“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 continued. “We now recognize that the shows we had booked do not honor that sentiment. We are sorry to those we hurt with the recklessness and naïveté of our original statement on playing Israel and we hope those who were planning to attend the shows understand our choice to cancel them.” Find the full statement below.
Barby, the Tel Aviv where Big Thief had been scheduled to perform, addressed the in a statement calling the band “cowards” and “spineless musicians who are afraid of their own shadow” (via The Observatorial).
We will be canceling our 2 shows in Tel Aviv. pic.twitter.com/ocSFtgnYz4
— Big Thief (@bigthiefmusic) June 9, 2022