Pixies have cancelled their first-ever performance in Israel, citing “events beyond our control”. Although the US band did not give a reason for the cancellation, organisers said it was linked to Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last week.
“The decision was not reached easily,” the band said. “We all know well the Israeli fans have been waiting for this visit for far too long. We’d like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans but events beyond all our control have conspired against us.”
Pixies were due to perform on 9 June, headlining the second night of the Pic.Nic festival. They are not the first group to call off their appearance at Tel Aviv’s Expo grounds. Both Klaxons and Gorillaz DJs pulled out last week, without giving reasons for their decision. Editorsand Israeli duo Carusella are still scheduled to perform, and English band Placebo went ahead with their show on Pic.Nic’s first night (5 June). “It’s important to [endorse] Israel these days,” an Israeli journalist remarked in a pre-concert interview with Placebo. “I suppose so,” joked frontman Brian Molko, with an awkward laugh, “You know, if you decide to go sailing.”
In the early hours of 31 May, Israeli commandos launched a raid on six ships carrying aid materials to Gaza. Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed and dozens were injured in the melee, which took place in international waters, 40 miles from shore. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the soldiers were defending themselves, but has opposed an international inquiry.
Even before the events of last week, Pixies were one of several western acts targeted by Israeli human rights activists advocating an artistic boycott of their country. “As much as some of us are huge fans and would love to hear your show, we won’t cross the international picket line … to come and see you,” wrote the group Boycott Israel on 1 March. Singer Elvis Costello cancelled two gigs in Israel last month, calling it “a matter of instinct and conscience”.
Shuki Weiss, promoter of the Pic.Nic festival, called on Israeli authorities to “fight against those who are doing everything they can to prevent artists from performing in Israel”. “We can only hope for better days, in which we will finally present the long-awaited visit of the Pixies in Israel,” she said. Refunds for Wednesday’s concert will be available.
Despite the recent spate of cancellations, several high-profile performers have performed in Israel, including Metallica, Rihanna and Kool and the Gang. Acts such as Elton John and Rod Stewart are scheduled to play the country later this summer.