The Hit List: Which musicians are boycotting Israel?

By Jared Malsin

New York – Israel has faced a wave of cancellations by major musical acts in recent months, with several groups and musicians choosing to heed calls a boycott in the wake of Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza “Freedom Flotilla” on May 31.

For the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, these cancellations mark a major victory in setting up what some activists have termed an “international picket line,” a moral consensus against the actions of Israel’s government. This new momentum has even captured the attention of CNN and other major media.

As the summer concert season settles in, Palestine Note compiled this list of Hits and Misses to keep you up to date on who has chosen to join the movement for a cultural boycott of Israel, who refused, and who is still on the fence.

The Hit List:

Snoop Dogg

[Photo: Gergely Csatari, Wikimedia Commons]

Dizzle cancelled a show in Ramat Gan, Israel, in 2008, citing “contractual difficulties,” but could he have been motivated by the boycott campaign? Dee-oh-double-gee was under pressure from boycott activists. He was also once quoted as telling Palestinian-American hip hop producer Fredwreck “Why they building a wall around y’alls people’s shit. That’s fucked up, cuz.’ ”

Elvis Costello

[Photo: Marco Annunziata, Wikimedia Commons]

Costello (real name: Declan MacManus) made perhaps the most eloquent and impassioned explanation for his decision to cancel his Israel gig in May. ”Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent,” he wrote on his website.

“I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.

“I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.”

“It is a matter of instinct and conscience.”

The Pixies

The Pixies’ Black Francis. [Photo: Simon Fernandez, WIkimedia Commons]

In the wake of Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza aid flotilla, these iconic alt-rockers cancelled a Tel Aviv show just days before the performance. ”We’d like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans,” they wrote, “but events beyond all our control have conspired against us.” The reference to “events beyond all our control” presumably meant the flotilla incident, but we don’t know for sure.

The Pixies had received letters from human rights activists urging them not to “cross an international picket line” by performing in Israel. The group was applauded by rights groups for their decision to cancel. Meanwhile there has been much speculation about a reference to Gaza in the classic 1988 song “River Euphrates.”

“Stuck here out of gas, out here on the Gaza Strip,” the song goes, “from driving in too fast.” Whatever the meaning, there was a resonance with the Gaza flotilla incident. We can confirm that Palestine Note staff rocked out to the song following the group’s announcement.

Gil Scott-Heron

[Photo: Adam Turner, Wikimedia Commons]

In retrospect canceling his Tel Aviv show seemed like a no-brainer for the writer of “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” and other radical proto-hip hop tracks. “Don’t go the moon,” one boycott advocate urged him before he cancelled, in a reference to his poem Whitey on the Moon.

Devendra Banhart

[Photo: Lauren Dukoff, Wikimedia Commons]

In another post-flotilla cancellation, Banhart decided to let his freak flag fly, making it clear in a statement that he didn’t want to lend legitimacy to the actions of the Israeli state by performing there: ”We love the land and people of Israel, and have been looking forward to our third show there with unimaginable anticipation. Unfortunately, we tried to make it clear that we were coming to share a human and not a political message but it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own.”

The Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System

The Klaxons. [Photo: Rama, Wikimedia Commons]

The British rockers and Damon Albarn’s cartoon hip hop group announced their decision to cancel simultaneously. Along with The Pixies, they were to have performed at Israel’s Pic.Nic festival. The groups made no apparent statement, but Israeli music promoter Shuki Weiss told Haaretz thecancellation was political.

Carlos Santana

[Photo: David Gans, Wikimedia Commons]

The guitar legend announced in January that he was canceling a show scheduled for June, citingscheduling difficulties. Could politics have been a factor? Santana was the target of a campaigncalling on him to cancel his Tel Aviv concert.

The Miss List:

Elton John

[Photo: Ernst Vikne, Wikimedia Commons]

Shalom we are very happy to be here,” John told thousands of fans who packed into a stadium in June. “Ain’t gonna stop me coming here.” One fan told CNN the singer “stuck to his guns” by rejecting calls for a cultural boycott, amid a wave of cancellations following the flotilla raid.


[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

The heavy metal rockers performed a somewhat crunchy version of Master of Puppets at Ramat Gan Stadium on May 22, ignoring boycott calls. Ironically the group faced a boycott by their own fans over their outrageous ticket prices: over $300 for a standing ticket.

The Metallica song “And Justice for All” seemed to summarize the situation:

Halls of Justice Painted Green
Money Talking
Power Wolves Beset Your Door
Hear Them Stalking
Soon You’ll Please Their Appetite
They Devour
Hammer of Justice Crushes You


[Photo: Gemma Mary, Wikimedia Commons]

The 22-year-old Barbados native said her time in Israel in May was “an amazing, amazing experience.”

Joan Armatrading

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Armatrading rejected calls to cancel her concert in Israel and issued a somewhat convolutedstatement saying, “The Israel Palestine conflict is a convoluted situation, entrenched by years of reinforcement, but this is a problem that we know can be solved.” She also made reference to Apartheid in South Africa. She also visited an “Arab-Jewish cultural center” in Tel Aviv.

On the fence: Will they cancel?

DJ Shadow

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

The trip-hop master is facing calls (Don’t let that needle drop) to cancel his July 15th Tel Aviv show.

Suzanne Vega

[Photo: Michal Maňas, WIkimedia Commons]

A campaign urging this folk singer to cancel her July 19th Israel gig is gaining steam, including aFacebook group and fan posts on her own website.

DJ Tiesto

[Photo: VerTijs, Wikimedia Commons]

A group of students in Gaza wrote to the electronica DJ, telling him “we write to you to appeal to you to be on the just side of history, to have your voice with the oppressed.”


Bono. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

The Irish rockers entire tour is on hold because of Bono’s back problems. The group was reported to be playing in Israel this summer, but, according to the last version of their tour schedule, no date has been set. Here’s hoping they remember: Sunday, Bloody Sunday.



  1. skulz fontaine said,

    July 2, 2010 at 22:51

    Lemme see here, Elton John? Flaming has-been. Metallica? Flaming burned up. Rihanna? Flaming who cares and servile mercenary hack. Joan Armatrading? Flaming way over the hill and no longer relevant. Mercenary strike two.
    “On the fence?” Best to get off the fence. Liable to get a fence post jammed up one’s posterior. Suzanne Vega should know better. As for U2, NOTHING says mercenary and servile like the ‘kings’ of Forbes. Bono owns it you know. 40% of Forbes and oh yes he does. Bono likes the “tax dodge.” Oh yeah. Golly, sort of takes the proletarian sting out of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Et tu Midas?

  2. paddy said,

    July 2, 2010 at 23:39

    My Elton John days are OVER. I won’t even listen to a radio station if they play his stuff Same goes for TV stations who show his face. Same goes for any product that uses him in advertising.
    As for the rest – who cares. I haven’t ever bought any of their stuff and I won’t from now on. Elton is married to a guy from the island where I live (Vancouver Island). If I see them broken down by the roadside I will drive past them. There is a gay pride parade this weekend in Victoria so maybe he will be there with his husband. You can’t expect too much in the way of morality from poofs who support Israel.

  3. Adam Zettler said,

    July 2, 2010 at 23:52

    Metallica would sell their own grandmothers for money. Besides that fact they haven’t made a decent album since 1991, they should be ashamed of themselves even before performing in Rothschildreal.


    July 3, 2010 at 00:44

    I expected BONER-O to cave in, and ElTurd John, the rest I could care less, but Suzanne Vega surprises me a bit.

    maybe we can rename her old hit song; “PUKE AHHHH” (luka)

    just finished erasing their crap from my MP3 deck, and now the ‘fold the CD’s’ task is going to happen.

    When it comes to Israel, there is no compromise. And these feckless jackass artists de merde are going to find out the hard way either you are a HUMAN BEING with COMPASSION, or you are a MONEY/SHEKEL GRUBBING WORM and unworthy of being heard by your fans because you are aiding and abetting MURDER.

    So, which is it, BONER-O??? and El-Turd and Suzanne??? You’ve already pissed me off and I’ll never ever intentionally listen to your crap or buy your garbage ever again for your lack of any SOUL or CONSCIENCE.

    Ignore the boycott at your own peril, you greedy scummy filthy zionist supporting PILES OF HUMAN WASTE IN HUMAN FORM.

  5. Ladybat2 said,

    July 3, 2010 at 00:48

    Elton John is nothing but a hypocrite any way! Wants rights for Gays but could not careless for human rights for Palestinian people. Thats right Elton go and sing for the Nazis. Its suits you you big fat yellow canary!

    But the biggest dissapointment for me is U2. I really thought from the words of their songs that they get stuff like this. Just more hypocrites.

    But who is the biggest hero out of all the rockers? PINK FLOYD ROGER WATERS! Bless his heart! Now thats a rocker with guts. How I wish they could all be like him.

  6. Sonic said,

    July 3, 2010 at 01:18

    How about going anyway, charging $300 per ticket to see you for an hour, then giving all the proceeds to the Flotilla survivors? That would send a message!

  7. Phantomflinger said,

    July 3, 2010 at 02:56

    @Skulz: I don’t think you have thought that out properly, or are viewing it through the lens of youth because Metallica and EJ will sell out stadiums time and again and its through them that a political statement would have the greatest impact simply because the people that follow them now are likely to be the people with more influence than the young.

    It doesn’t matter if you think they are over the hill, they are still huge money earners and their songs sell very well despite many years since last hits, it would be a coup indeed to strike Elton from the lists in Israel but his support is something altogether different as he has been suckered in on the “Muslims all hate the gays” ticket.

  8. Richard K said,

    July 3, 2010 at 06:48

    If you care to research the truth behind 9-11 attacks. It was a 100% Mossad operation. the documentary “Missing Links” has a great collection of hidden facts that were dug up and also obtained through FOI.

    Wake up people, Israel is our worst enemy.

  9. Gordon Wagner said,

    July 3, 2010 at 07:36

    I hear that Israel counts on attracting name entertainers. Apparently it gets their attention when artists won’t tour there or cancel performances. Maybe that aerial bombardment of a captive civilian population isn’t the brightest, most civilized idea.

    You one of those Megaphonies I’ve heard about?

  10. Geltmeister said,

    July 3, 2010 at 09:23

    U2 should definitely perform in Israel. I don’t see why Israelis shouldn’t suffer the conceit of Bono, just as we have had to for the past 25 years.

    Here’s a man that paid $2,500 dollars to have a first class airline seat reserved so he could have his favourite hat flown from Ireland to Italy – for a charity gig!

  11. Zac said,

    July 3, 2010 at 09:29

    Israel needs heavy boycotts on them. These artists have an obligation otherwise they are hypocrites. Anyway we can all do our bit.

  12. josh said,

    July 3, 2010 at 10:29

    Word up Snoop, I’m so proud of the Pixies and Santana, and of all who follow their concsiense. Keep up the good fight,
    Of course I expect that guy who is the shame of Ireland to lick plenty arse in the Occupied Territory.
    Metallica is of course no surprise. They would do a benefit for simon viesenthal.
    eltron Jon played rush limpbone’s wedding reception. nuff said.

  13. josh said,

    July 3, 2010 at 10:32

    I forgot to salute Roger Waters for his song to Gaza!!!!
    And I must say Helen Thomas only said what I have said many times over.
    She should not have backed down/

  14. zippy said,

    July 3, 2010 at 15:05

    WHy do i have this add coming up on this page???
    Ads by Google
    Buy Land In Israel
    Huge Range of Properties. Buy Land In Israel Today!


  15. R. Zuercher said,

    July 3, 2010 at 16:46

    These; Elton John, U2, etc. will NOT be played on our Veterans National Radio any longer.

    As our contribution to the cause, these ignorant fartists were taken out of our play list!


    R. Zuercher

  16. desertpeace said,

    July 3, 2010 at 17:00

    Zippy, I do not subscribe to Google ads…. it must be your server doing that to you. Definitely not the fault of DesertPeace.

  17. nophoneo said,

    July 3, 2010 at 17:09

    Morrissey played Tel Aviv couple of years back. Guess he’s on the Miss List.

  18. giulio said,

    July 3, 2010 at 20:16

    Why isn’t the former-Beatle bass-player on the shit list?

  19. jeff said,

    July 4, 2010 at 01:00

    I have never bought one of those awful Jethro Tull records but I have at least 1 of most of those that boycotted those NAZIS in Israel

    Coincidence of the cosmos?

  20. Ladybat2 said,

    July 4, 2010 at 18:37

    In response to R. Zuercher post above…. THAT’S THE SPIRIT R.Z.! Thats how you put the hurt on those yellow bellied nazi loving canaries!

    And to Desert Peace, this is a very interesting thread. I have always been very curious as to which celebs are supporting our side and which support the zionazi side. So please do keep us updated as the list grows on either side. Also, I would like to know what celebs in Hollywood are saying about this. They are never afraid to speak out about other causes, (LIKE ANIMAL RIGHTS) yet about this one they seem to be as quiet as little church mice. I guess they think Palestinians and peace activists on aid ships are not worth as much as animals.

    We need to know whose movies to boycott as well. For example, most of us already know that washed up, has been, actor Sly Stone is a huge supporter of Isra-HELL. I can not even watch any of his movies now because every time I see his face all I can think of is he is a zionazi. So which other Hollywood actors are zionazis too? If any one can find out the answer to that question it would be Desert Peace. LETS PUT THE HURT ON THE HOLLYWOOD CELEBS WHO SUPPORT THE ZIONAZIS TOO! Because, Hollywood never tires of cramming Holocaust movies down our throats. When are we going to see Hollywood make movies about the Palestinian Holocaust? BECAUSE THAT HOLOCAUST IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN FRONT OF OUR EYES AND NEEDS OUR ATTENTION RIGHT NOW TO STOP IT!

  21. giulio said,

    July 5, 2010 at 15:32

    Ladybat- Most “entertainers” have “agents” who decide what they can, and cannot do, in public. These agents have an agenda that has nothing to do with their client.
    Indeed they even use their client to further their own agenda without their client
    even being aware of it. An agent can advise their client that the “mid-east conflict” is
    too highly-charged a situation to be involved with publicly,so “land-mine bans and animal-rights” become their “mission”. If you know anything about “Hollywood” and all that goes on there,you should be able to grasp which side of the “conflict” these
    agents are on. If silence is complicity, 99% of our “stars” are criminals. For a real change-of-pace,however,check out Roseanne Barr’s mid-east sermons. WOW!

  22. Ladybat2 said,

    July 5, 2010 at 20:15

    Giulio—Yes. I’ve heard some of Roseanne’s thoughts about Israel. I was surprised because she is Jewish and yet she is able to see the truth. I think there are probably more Jews than we think that are able to see the truth. I hear what you are saying about entertainers and their agents and yet some of them manage to have their own set of “balls” any way. Like Roseanne. Like Rosie O’donald and Janean Gerofelo (sp?). But what gets me so angry are the ones who do stand up for what is right and who have always shown themselves to be brave and smart about things like offensive un necessary wars and crimes against humanity and crimes against life forms weaker than our own. Like Martin Sheen and his son Charlie. See. they speak out about all those things and yet not a word about Israel from them.

    The biggest hypocrite of all is Bill Maher. He seems to be so smart and fearless about every thing else but when it comes to Israel all his smarts just goes right out the window. I do not understand how these people can be so anti war but yet at the same time support Israel. IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AT ALL! I was such a fan of his when I first started watching his HBO program. But in spite of all his anti war mumbo jumbo and all his complaining about religion, he still openly supported Israel. I could not understand how in this world he could justify that!

    I’ve had talks with people who have pretty high IQs. Or at least they seem to have high IQs. Very intelligent people with fancy degrees in education. Way more than I have myself. And yet when it comes to Israel its like all those high IQs just drop several notches and those fancy PHDs are just empty words printed on a fancy piece of paper they have framed and hanging on their walls.

    But the biggest let down of all is Obama. Just look at him. Nothing but talk. Nothing but a salesman. He just got finished signing a deal to start sanctions against Iran. He stood in front of the nation and said its because Iran is the only country that refuses to abide by the laws concerning nuclear weapons. Can you believe that? How can he stand up there and say that when he knows that WE KNOW THAT IS A BALD FACED LIE? How can he say that when he knows that we know all about Israel’s nuclear weapons and how Israel has never had to abide by those same laws that even WE the United States of America must abide by?

    I ask you this question….. which is worse my friend?….. the days when we did not have the internet and every thing was kept from us and we were totally in the dark about every thing? OR……. Now, every thing is open to us. Lies do not work any more because we have access to most all the information we want AND STILL THEY STAND THERE AND LIE RIGHT TO OUR FACES KNOWING THAT WE KNOW THEY ARE LYING? Which is worse? To be lied to? Or to be lied to when they know that WE know they are lying right to our faces? Its like being a kid and telling your parents you know there is no such thing as Santa but your parents want to keep you as a child so they keep insisting that Santa is real when you know they are flat out lying to you!

    At least when we were kept in the dark we had an excuse. But now we know what they are. They are liars. But what does that make us? We see, our vote changes nothing, our loud voices of decent changes nothing, not really.

    What does that make us then? A “DEMOCRACY”?

    Hardly. That was once upon a time a word we fancied for ourselves. Nothing more. And a dangerous title we gave ourselves. Because telling the world we are a democracy means telling the world WE THE PEOPLE are in charge. When we are not.

    So when our government does such horrible things to other countries, who will those people in those countries blame for that?

    You and me. Because we (or at least our government) have told the world that we are a democracy. And in a democracy all who live in it are to blame.

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